Sunday, June 7, 2009

Water Babies

Courtesy of


Take your baby for a swim and see her natural swimming instincts.

Most babies (and toddlers and kids) love water. My daughter surely does! Even after I bring her out of the bath tub, she’ll want to get back in again and screams her head off when I bundle her up in her towel. For me, I started going to swimming pools since I was 8 or 9 years old. I learned how to swim when I was 11, without any formal training or classes. So my “techniques” are non-standard, so to say. I’ve enrolled myself in adult swimming lessons to get my techniques right but falling pregnant before I could get to freestyle and my ultimate dream, the butterfly stroke. There are no swimming lessons available for pregnant moms in Malaysia, or at least none that I know of, so I had to quit.

I would love to pass my love of the water to my daughter, but baby swimming lessons are scarce here or possibly non-existent, so I read up on the internet. Some of the well researched benefits are:

  • Early swimmers perform better on tests of social, academic, motor and personality developments.
  • Water offers a multi-sensory stimulation involving all senses i.e. touch, hearing, taste, sight and smell. The intense physical and eye contact with parents offer quality stimulation, which means excellent for parent and baby bonding.
  • Swimming allows babies to move independently and weightlessly through water long before they can walk, aiding muscle development, coordination and balance, lung capacity, stamina and the brain.
  • Early swimming helps develops babies’ personalities. Cautious babies learn to accept risk while boisterous babies learn to be more prudent.
  • As a result of all this, their independence and self confidence will increase.
  • A safeguard against water accidents. No amount of swimming lessons could guarantee a safeguard against drowning, but at least it would increase her survival skills in her times of need.

When to start taking your baby for a swim

It really depends on your own comfort, availability to a pool and your baby’s health. My daughter was terrified of the water until she was around 4 to 5 months when she really began to enjoy herself during bath time. I could tell by the serene look on her face, her quiet cooing and of course, the lack of cries and screams. Then she kept getting colds and a runny nose, so I kept postponing our trip to the pool. We finally got to take her for her first swim in our apartment baby pool in the morning, in order to avoid the noisy crowds in the late afternoons.

What to take with you

If you’re taking your baby to your condo’s pool like me, you can just bring a towel, as you can deal with everything else at home. But if you’re going to a public pool, you should bring pretty much the same things you bring with you during an outing such as:

  • A bottle of formula and some snacks for after swimming – swimming makes babies hungry just as they make you hungry
  • A towel or a toweling dressing gown (if you have one)
  • Water or bath toys such as balls, rubber duckies, plastic turtles or boats etc.
  • Don’t forget your diaper bag.

Have fun!

  • Let your baby splash & play with her toys. Throw one across the pool and “zoom” her through the water to get it.
  • Put your mouth under water and show your baby how to blow bubbles. This is an important lesson for babies to learn, as they can't inhale water if they are blowing. For young babies, blow a toy across the water and get him to blow it back, or at least mimic you blowing.
  • When he can sit up, usually at around six months, sit your baby on the side of the pool and lift him down into the water with a splash. Do it with older siblings and you’re guaranteed a few laughs and cackles!
  • Lay him on his back with his head resting on your shoulder and encourage him to kick his legs. My daughter instinctively starts to kick her legs about when in the water, even dipping her head a few times and gasping. Be careful not to let your baby swallow too much water, though.


  • Make sure the weather’s not too cold. It’s unlikely you can get a heated swimming pool just at the right temperature here in Kuala Lumpur, so try to take your baby in the morning before it gets too hot, or in the late afternoon.
  • As soon as your baby starts to shiver, get him out of the pool and wrap him up warmly. Babies and young toddlers can only stand about 15-30 minutes before they start to shiver, so be watchful.
  • Never EVER leave your baby unattended, or even let go of your hand of her, not even for a second. This is especially important if your baby is already mobile i.e. crawling or able to turn over on her own.

Take a look at my daughter in action. She's having the time of her life!

Playing ball with a friend.

Keep those legs kicking!

See what I mean? Time of her life!

Now she knows water can get into her ears, hehe.. .

All in all, she had a blast! I ended up with a sore back, though, from all that bending over. Next time I'll bring her baby float.


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