Baby Swimming and Breath Control. Why it’s so important and how?


Firstly, children are only ever submerged within our teaching philosophy when they themselves show readiness. This is never done forcefully or without respect and care towards each child. All children develop at different rates so it is important to use information only as a guide as rushing this process can ruin the love of a swimming for a young child.

Throughout our recent Youtube posts there have been many questions around how children reach the stage that the children are at in the videos. In short this is not something that happens overnight but its more gradual to encourage a love of the water.

Conditioning is a stimulus response method used to teach baby breath control on command. By teaching baby breath control on the verbal trigger “NAME Read Go”, we prepare them for their first underwater experience outside the womb. By conditioning the baby we ensure that their first underwater experience a pleasurable one. When the water hits the top of the baby’s head they will react by holding their breath. Condition is a safe technique to teach baby’s breath control. To avoid ingesting water we sit the baby upright so the water runs quickly, smoothly and evenly over the face. If you are uncomfortable with conditioning, you can wait until you join formal learn to swim lessons to commence conditioning. If you practice conditioning regularly somewhere between 10 and 12 weeks your will notice your baby close their eyes and hold their breath on the verbal cue.

Steps for conditioning:

  1. Sit the baby upright
  2. Get a cup of water
  3. Use the trigger words “Evie, ready go”
  4. Wait one second then pour the water on top of the head
  5. Allow the water to run completely over the face before laying baby back
  6. Congratulate baby on a job well done
  7. Never condition a crying baby

Conditioning can become part of the daily bath routine as soon as the parent is comfortable. When conditioning it is very important that the parent stays calm and relaxed as the baby will react according to the parent’s body language. It is natural for the baby to stiffen a little after the water runs over the face so don’t worry.

Always ensure that the baby is sitting upright during conditioning. This allows the water to run smoothly and evenly over the face and avoids the baby ingesting water. Parents should start with a half cup of water and slowly work up to the full cup once the baby and the parent gains confidence.

While the baby should not ingest the water if conditioning is performed correctly, accidents can happen. On a couple of occasions when I’ve been conditioning my own baby’s they have coughed and drank a little bit of water. This is similar to when they drink milk, and it goes down the wrong way. If this happens don’t panic, just gently tap the baby on the back and reassure them that all is well. Stop conditioning and
recommence next bath time.

Learning to swim should be a positive experience for both parent and child. So, if the baby shows any signs of discomfort stop conditioning immediately. If baby is repeatedly swallowing water stop conditioning immediately. During the newborn stage the most important objective is to develop a love and familiarise your baby with the water.

For more resources check out our Youtube Channel or visit our Resources blog which has large amounts of Baby Swimming content to support you on your journey. For a detailed guide join our course.

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