From the very first days of life, contact with water is an amazing experience that tests a newborn’s motor skills. The aquatic environment in fact recalls the mother’s womb for the infant, whose memory in the first months of life is still very much alive. It is a reassuring regression, which puts the infant in great intimacy with the parent while being rocked gently in the tub.
The right activities for each age group
Each stage of growth, from the first days up to 5 years, has specific features to consider when small children are approaching the water.
Let’s see in detail:
UP TO 6 MONTHS
The baby is not yet able to maintain a sitting position, dependent on everything from mom and dad with whom he or she has a symbiotic relationship. The operator is not the central figure but mediates the discovery of new motor conditions that water provides. One can guide the management of immersion, taking advantage of the closure of the glottis instinct that prevents drinking water. These are the months in which the instinct is more developed than ever, however, then it gradually fades with growth, so it is important to ensure that swimming will immediately become a natural activity.
FROM 7 TO 14 MONTHS
The baby starts to crawl and tries its first steps, there is a strong desire to discover and curiosity about the outside environment. The infant is separated from his parents’ arms even in the pool and starts exploring with the help of floating devices such as inflatable armbands, even attempting entry into the pool alone.
FROM 15 TO 23 MONTHS
the autonomy of the child grows, and with it the ability to float and safety in their movements. In the pool, the skills acquired are then solidified and they try their first jumps into the water.
FROM 24 TO 36 MONTHS
Separation from the parent start slow, favouring the instructor and the other members of the group. Autonomy continues to increase and they test new floating positions and independent free body immersion. They addressing new guidance skills in the space with water paths.
FROM 3 TO 4 YEARS
You can initiate complex tasks geared toward floating and independent immersion by picking up objects on the bottom of the pool or tub.
FROM 4 TO 5 YEARS
If floating devices are no longer needed and the child has gained a good familiarity with the aquatic environment, this means that the goal has been reached. The child is ready to follow real and proper swimming lessons, while mom and dad can watch proudly from the bleachers.
Finally, it is recommended in all these phases to avoid crowded courses of approach for water activities: the ideal situation would be groups of 6-7 children, gathered according to age.
How to ensure comfort and safety for small children
It is advisable to bring two robes or towels, one to dry and cover the child as soon as he or she gets out of the pool, on the way to the locker room and showers, and the other, which must remain clean and dry, to wear after showering. It is also good to layer clothing in order to prevent sudden changes in temperature between the external environment and the hot and humid internal environment, being that it may cause ailments and illnesses.
For babies who wear diapers, there are special swim nappies and waterproof costumes to put on in order to prevent irritation and redness of the skin. For older children who are sensitive to the cold, there are shirts and even small special neoprene wetsuits to stay warm even in the pool. Particular attention should be paid when drying the inner cone of the ears, in order to prevent excess water that causes discomfort or infection.
Let us know if there are any other tricks or tips to keep in mind to make the most positive experience possible in the water.