3 reasons Why Submerging Baby at Swimming Lessons Is Safe
As parents we are programmed to keep our children safe from harm at all times, so it’s not surprising that many of us balk at the idea of intentionally submerging our babies underwater. It sounds very dangerous and looks drastic, but if done properly with guidance from experienced teachers, this activity can be extremely beneficial for both you and baby.
Here’s three reasons why submersion is both safe and beneficial for your baby:
1) Instinct takes over and baby's dive reflex kicks in
Did you know that a baby’s epiglottis – the little flap of cartilage that sits behind our tongues – automatically closes over to block the throat when they are submerged in water? This is known as the ‘gag’ or ‘dive’ reflex and prevents them from swallowing water and drowning. This reflex, which remains automatic up to the age of 18 months or so, means that your baby can safely go underwater for short periods of time while properly supervised. Nature is fascinating, isn’t it?
While pediatricians agree this is a safe activity, it is important to make sure you’re doing it properly. Forcing or ‘dunking’ your baby under the water can be stressful for them and lead to fears in the future, so be sure to ease them into it. Holding them in front of you and gradually letting go of them until they’re submerged is much gentler on their nose and throat. Your baby swimming instructor will guide you on the best techniques here, which leads us nicely onto our next point…
2) You’re in good hands
Submerging your baby should always be done under close supervision by fully qualified swimming instructors to begin with. Your first experience will be daunting and your instinctive parent 'danger' sirens will probably be going off like crazy, but this is what the professionals are there for.
With the swimming teacher's guidance and encouragement, you can feel reassured that both you and baby are in good hands. Your instructor will be able to teach you the proper techniques involved and keep a watchful eye on both of you to make sure everything looks correct. These lessons are incredibly well-structured and designed for absolute safety, so all you need to concentrate on is following the instructor’s lead and forming that extra strong bond with your baby as you both experience the water together.
3) It prevents future accidents
As we mentioned earlier on a baby’s instinctive water reflexes don’t last forever. So if you don’t take advantage of them from an early age, you risk them losing the ability to deal with a water accident when they’re older.
Babies and toddlers who learn to swim and cope with submersion will be able to support their own heads, hold their breath, get to the surface and hold on to the side of the pool until help comes.
Submerging your baby and encouraging independence in the water from such an early age will teach them not to panic if they ever get into difficulty in water on their own. There are many products that you can select to help with water safety such as baby and toddler float suits and floats and these might help reassure you about water safety.
So while you may initially have thought submerging babies is the opposite of keeping them safe, it’s actually the very best thing you can do to prepare them for independence as they grow up. As parents we can’t always be there to watch over them, so taking these steps now will give them the tools they need to cope with water danger.