Conditioning is a stimulus response method used to teach baby breath control on command. By teaching baby breath control on the verbal trigger read go, we prepare them for their first underwater experience outside the womb. By conditioning the baby we ensure that their first underwater experience is free from fuss and trauma.
Steps for conditioning
- Sit the baby upright
- Get a cup of water
- Use the trigger words “Evie, ready go”
- Wait one second then pour the water on top of the head
- Allow the water to run completely over the face before laying baby back down
- Congratulate baby on a job well done
- 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 do happen. On a couple of occasions when I’ve been conditioning Evie she has coughed and drank a little bit of water… similar to when the milk 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.
Learning to swim should be a positive experience for both parent and child. So, if the baby shows any signs of distress stop conditioning immediately. If baby is repeatedly swallowing water stop conditioning immediately. During the new born stage the most important objective is to develop a love and familiarise your baby with the water.