Aquatic awareness or baby swimming classes is one of the rare physical activities with the baby gym that can be practiced with an infant. Why register your child for baby swimmers? Starting at what age ? What are the benefits? So many questions that we asked Florian Colmagne, lifeguard.
After being bathed in amniotic fluid for 9 months, your baby is already like a fish in water. Moreover, many newborns enjoy the wrapped bath in the maternity ward. A pleasure that some young parents wish to continue thanks to baby swimming lessons in Paris, Metz, Marseille, Bordeaux, Pau, Nice… Indeed, everywhere in Europe, private or public swimming pools offer this sport, according to an à la carte formula or with an annual registration.
Why register your infant for baby swimmers?
“By practicing this activity, parents will be able to realize the benefits, all the aquatic possibilities and the dangers of water. For his part, the child will have the opportunity to really discover this environment, without fear.“, explains Florian Colmagne, lifeguard, before adding, “especially if as a parent, you don’t feel very comfortable because you must not transmit your fear to your baby“.
If you live by the sea, a lake, or have a swimming pool, it is all the more obvious to familiarize your child with the aquatic environment and prevent the risk of drowning.. Not to mention that this element is very present in our lives: vacations by the ocean, stay with grandparents, friends who have a swimming pool/jacuzzi, walks in nature with swimming in the river, pond… ).
The advantages and disadvantages
For the lifeguard, there are many:
- Spend a good moment of relaxation between the mother/dad and their baby, strengthen the bond;
- Develop baby’s motor skills, allow him to discover new sensations and a better understanding of the landscape in different positions (back, stomach, verticality);
- And of course, gain confidence, be comfortable in an aquatic environment for both adults and children, particularly during immersions, which are regularly practiced throughout the sessions.
“The first year offers a range of activities. If the adult is comfortable, the child will be even more quickly. By regularly following sessions, learning to swim itself is made easier for the child. child. At 3/4 years old, a child will be able to swim alone 2 to 3 meters “, underlines our expert.
- Greater risk of ear infections. To avoid them, it is recommended to dry your baby’s ears well at the end of the session and to put on a hat, or even a hood in winter.
Another pro tip : to limit the risk of ear infections, blow your child’s nose even more regularly using the syringe technique.
- Some children are also more inclined to develop molluscum contagiosum (especially in areas where they rub against French fries), a mild skin disease that particularly affects children under 6 years of age.
At what age should you register for baby swimmers?
According to Florian Colmagne, “the ideal is to start as early as 4 months so that he and the parent are comfortable. At this age, babies generally do not complain and immersion (being underwater voluntarily or involuntarily) is easy. They also don’t mind having water run down their face“. Nothing prevents you from starting later either…
“But be careful, between 1 and 2 years old, this is a sometimes more delicate period with more apprehension on the part of the child, the appearance of no and also the fears that take hold. It can happen at the same time. Most of the time it’s the period of fear first, then the period of no. But this obviously varies depending on the child. The period of fears is simply that the child begins to become aware of the environment around him and the risks linked to this environment (fear of the dark, of separation, of height, of unstable floors, of jump, submerge, etc.)“, warns the lifeguard.
In general, this sport concerns children between 4 months and 3 years old. For older children, the idea is to develop their ability to save themselves in the event of a fall, by reaching the edge. Then, the basics of swimming will follow (kicks, breathing, etc.).
From 4 and a half years old, learn to swim.
What if my baby cries during sessions?
According to our expert, “you have to be able to understand and realize why he is crying. An experienced swimming instructor will be able to help and support parents during this period. Keep in mind that you have to test but not force it, especially immersions, otherwise you really risk blocking your child. You have to persevere, even if some courses are more difficult. However, if the crying is intense (and your baby is between 1 and 2 years old), you should consider stopping for a while, then trying the experience again.“.
Another possibility : try again in a different setting (the family’s private swimming pool for example), with another professional who will have a different approach.
Choose your course wisely
Start by finding out: which clubs and swimming pools around me offer it? Indeed, not all municipal or private swimming pools systematically offer it. Additionally, their approach is often different.
Some structures only offer a place to splash around and have fun with your baby in complete autonomy during a time slot reserved for parents-children. And the lifeguard supervises, presents the accessories available and gives some advice. In other cases, it is a real “course” with supervised teaching (possibly with themes) and personalized, a progression in the exercises and games offered in order to develop the child’s abilities. Which therefore requires regular presence of the parent/child duo.
Tips before registering
Find out about the content offered so that it meets your expectations: is it free or regulated? How many duos can be present? Which healthcare professional is on site? What happens in the event of illness/absence? Should we commit to the year? In general, also favor places close to you.
Conditions for registering for baby swimmers
They vary depending on whether it is a public swimming pool or a private organization which has its own swimming pool or which benefits from slots in a municipal swimming pool.
Starting at what age ?
In principle, it is from 4 months, or even 5 months, with an up-to-date vaccination recordaccording to the official recommendations of the vaccination schedule.
The presence of an adult required
In fact, until at least 3 years old, a baby cannot be alone in the water. The presence of an adult (parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, etc.) is mandatory. But it is not necessary to know how to swim, since this activity is always practiced in a swimming pool where an adult is on foot. On the other hand, if you have any apprehensions or fear of water, it is better to talk to the lifeguard beforehand.
How much does it cost ?
The price varies greatly: it can be around €5 per weekly session in a public swimming pool to €30 via a private organization. Everything will depend on the content of the course, the method of membership: à la carte, monthly subscription, yearly, and also on different factors such as taking into account family daily life, the number of children, participation of your EC , or if you practice other sports/leisure activities in this location.
A baby swimming session, how does it go?
Everything will again depend on the location and the age of the child.
“Chez Eden Kids, a private structure for which I supervise baby swimmers, it begins (after the obligatory shower) with a welcome phase in the swimming pool, with a song, always the same. The parent introduces the child, says his or her first name, water runs over the baby’s head and face. Then, there are activities and discoveries for the little ones in the arms of the parent or more independently, on a mat, a fry, a board… The lifeguard is there to accompany the parent and the baby in the fall natural underwater, until the exit. The older ones will then quickly move away a little from the adult and quickly jump. Workshops are offered, then at the end, we bring together adults and children to do a little assessment and the closing song“, explains the lifeguard.
Baby swimmers in practice
What outfit for baby at the pool and the parent?
The base of course is the jersey. Some facilities require a “swimming pool” baby diaper and a swimsuit that fits well to avoid leaks. Others are less demanding and simply ask for a swimsuit that holds stools. Please note, men may be required to wear swim briefs or boxers in certain swimming pools. Likewise, the hat may be obligatory for everyone.
Pro tip : avoid putting caps or headbands (unless otherwise medical advice) on your baby. The goal is for him to also get used to having water in his ears and to understand this sensation.
Swimming pool equipment
Swimming goggles are not obligatory. They are even often not recommended for toddlers. Armbands are also not accepted most of the time, because they hinder motor skills. All the fun equipment is provided by the swimming pool to promote aquatic awareness.
Training of the professional present on site
This activity must be supervised by a sports professional holding the Professional certificate in Youth, Education…