When is the best age for your child to start swimming? Definitely as soon as possible!
At Fulton Swim School we have lessons for every age; from 3 months old all the way through to adults. It is possible to start learning to swim at any age but there are some fantastic reasons for getting your little one into the water as soon as possible.
Your new baby in the pool (from 3 months onwards)
Babies love water! Being in warm water is definitely nothing new for your little bub after spending all that time developing in the womb. Getting into the pool isn’t a completely unfamiliar experience for your baby. Our pools are heated consistently to 32 degrees which is the perfect temperature for little ones.
When your beautiful new baby is born they have an instinctive response to water known as the bradycardic reflex, which is part of the mammalian diving reflex. This is the same reflex that protects babies from getting milk in their lungs, according to Goren Wennergen, a paediatrician and professor at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Wennergen’s study reports that this reflex disappears by 6 months old so starting them in the pool from 3 months is an amazing way to keep using this reflex that your baby is born with. Babies will instinctively hold their breath when their face is exposed to water so there is no need to worry about whether they know what to do, they’re born knowing! We of course teach you and your baby how to do this in a safe and fun way.
Some believe that swimming isn’t ideal for children under one, however we have seen some amazing benefits for baby development through our many years of teaching babies to swim at Fulton Swim School.
Some of the benefits of teaching your child to swim as a baby
Their five senses are ready to soak up information like little sponges! Water is a fantastic place to stimulate your baby. Stimulating the five senses (sight, sound, taste, touch and smell) is a fundamental part of supporting your child to develop emotionally, physically and psychologically. We use play and song to ensure your baby is stimulated and having fun while developing in the pool.
We design our baby swimming lessons to support the development of your baby’s primitive reflexes including their moro, grasp, and rooting reflexes. Healthline Parenthood has a great resource of what these reflexes are in more detail. Games such as reaching for floating toys, sitting on a mat, holding onto a bar being a monkey, and rolling over in the water are all ways our swimming lessons are designed to support your baby in their development of these reflexes.
Getting in the pool early with your baby also helps build both yours and their confidence being in water, and getting used to swimming early can also prevent your baby fearing the water as they get older.
Starting swimming at toddler age
If your little one is now toddler age, our preschool classes are so much fun to start learning to swim in! Full of songs, play based learning and positivity to support your child through their first time learning to swim.
It is critically important to us that your child learns to be safe in the water and gains the skills and confidence to save their own life should they accidentally fall into water. As mentioned in this article by the blog Healthy Children, drowning prevention is a family activity and swimming lessons are the first step towards water safety for both you and your child.
As we are teaching your toddler to be confident in and around water, along with survival skills such as floating on their back, safe entry and exit, rolling over and being able to move towards the water’s edge, we encourage your entire family to watch and reinforce the safety skills they are learning when near water.
By the time your child is toddler age they have developed a sense of self along with more awareness of danger and what makes them feel scared. It is perfectly ok if your toddler feels nervous about swimming for the first time. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not ‘ready’ to start swimming. In fact this is a great time to start because they will learn earlier on that water can be fun and safe. We will always teach at your child’s pace and what they feel comfortable with so they learn swimming lessons are an enjoyable experience.
Children are all different. Some will come for their first lesson and absolutely love it. Some will start off more wary and learn to enjoy it after a few lessons. Our swim teachers are fantastic at distraction and the first step for any new toddler beginning to swim is to have fun. We make it a priority that they are confident and happy in the water before expecting them to master their swimming skills.
Hesitation is not a bad thing or something to teach a child not to be around water. We teach even our most confident and water loving children to be hesitant around water for their own safety. Always checking with an adult if it is safe first. So if your toddler is a little nervous around water it’s a great place to start because we add fun and positivity to their hesitation meaning they will become a happy but also safety conscious child around water.
Beginning at school age
If your child is now school age it is time they learn how to swim. Drowning continues to be a significant cause of death of young children in New Zealand. Kidspot NZ has great information about how we can go about keeping our children safer in water and why swimming lessons is a good start. Participating in formal swimming lessons plays a crucial role in reducing drowning in children.
As with the younger children, we teach all ages water safety skills including; water familiarisation and a respect for water, gaining confidence in safe entries and exits, breath control, survival swimming strokes, floating, movement, and developing formal strokes so your child can efficiently cover greater distances.
Our lessons are designed so your child starts swimming at the level they’re at according to their swimming ability, not their age. This way they won’t feel that swimming is too hard. We of course want them to love swimming and being in the water while learning how to keep themselves safe.
At Fulton Swim School we have children and adults of all ages every week starting swimming lessons for the first time. Swimming lessons are so much more than learning the skill of swimming and being safe in the water. They are a way to have fun, grow confidence, feel healthy through movement, and develop coordination and motor skills for your child. Repetition and positivity are key to ensuring your child, no matter their age or swimming ability, grow their confidence and learn to keep themselves safe in the water.
Classes from 3 months are currently only available at our New Plymouth pool with classes coming early 2021 at our remaining sites.