Ah, babies look so cute when they’re enjoying themselves with water. But before you rush off to the nearest swim school to teach your infant to swim, consider this.
Read more: Learning how to swim
Swimming experts are divided on the best age at which a child should start taking lessons. Some suggest that lessons before the age of four are a waste of time, while others promote lessons from as early as three months.
According to the Child Accident Prevention Foundation of South Africa (CAPFSA), babies who have early aquatic training are not only at less risk of drowning but benefit from superior physical co-ordination, social confidence and mental development, and positive parent-child interaction.
Get in the swim
- CAPFSA recommend that babies should be at least five or six months old, as younger babies’ immune systems are not properly developed yet.
- The American Academy of Paediatricians (AAP) shares this view but warns that even though older infants are better equipped to cope with normal waterborne germs, they are nevertheless at risk of infection. Make sure that pools are properly chlorinated to reduce the risk of infection.
- Pools should also be between 30-32 degrees Celsius. Infants lose heat a lot faster than adults.
- Select the teacher carefully. The session should be enjoyable. Teachers who are in favour of methods of force, compulsion, punishment and threat can do more harm than good and instill a lifelong fear of water.
- Keep lessons short and sweet, no more than 15 minutes.
- CAPFSA warns that even with the best training, no young child can be considered 100% water-safe and they always need close adult supervision near water