We are big advocates of kids learning to swim – including babies. We encourage early exposure to water, and getting kids in the pool as early as six months. So if six months is good, four months or two months is even better, right?
Actually, when a child is under six months is one of the few times we don’t recommend swimming in a pool. The reason might surprise you, because it has nothing to do with a child’s ability to enjoy water or the risks you might normally associate with pools. Instead, it has to do with nutrition and the possibility a baby might ingest water while in a pool.
Why pediatricians recommend against drinking water before six months
Infants get their nutrition, including hydration, from milk or formula. Up until six months, it is typically their sole source of food and water. Drinking water in significant amounts can interfere with their ability to digest nutrients from milk or formula, can cause stomach upsets, and can make a baby feel full and decide not to eat.
By six months, babies are ready to take in some water, are typically starting to adapt to new foods and develop a more resilient digestive system.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that getting in a pool is automatically going to lead to those problems, that a child will drink a significant amount of water in a lesson, or that a child some weeks younger might not be ready. But we’d just as soon wait just a little longer to be on the safe side.
Skipping the pool does NOT mean no water exposure
Even if you aren’t going to the pool with your infant, we do still recommend lots of fun exposure to water from day one. Playing with your child in water and getting them used to splashing and the feel of water on their face is an important first step to water acclimation, and one you can start at home. Try:
- Pouring small cups of water over a baby’s head in an infant bath
- Holding your child in the shower and letting them feel the spray
- Splashing and playing with toys in a water-filled container while under close supervision from an adult
- View these tub classes with your child at home to become acquainted with FOSS before starting your Backfloat Baby lessons
All of these will build positive associations with water and comfort that can translate to an easier time when they do begin group swim lessons – ideally, as we say, at six months of age.
So to the parents of newborns we say, take a little time to introduce your child to the joy of water at home. We can wait, and look forward to seeing you at the pool soon!