Infant swimming is a natural phenomenon of human babies and toddlers who can reflexively move themselves through the water while simultaneously changing their respiration and breathing rates in response to being submerged underwater. The slowing of the heart rate (up to 20%) and the change of respiration with water passing through the nose/esophagus and into the stomach is also known as the Bradycardic reflex. It also enables them to open their eyes underwater. This phenomenon is generally observed in babies from birth to 6 months old.
Other mammals share this trait with humans though. The infant swimming reflex causes children to tummy down while seeming to paddle reflexively making them look like natural swimmers at birth. It is important to note that despite this infant swimming reflex children are not strong enough to swim or hold their heads above water yet. It must also be noted that at this age babies cannot also hold their breath voluntarily underwater.
As a parent, it is important therefore to expose babies or toddlers to swimming with the needed guidance to avoid accidents. The American CDC in a study showed that one of the top causes of death to infants between 1-4 years old is drowning. It is therefore essential that while exposing our children to swimming lessons necessary precautions MUST be taken. Holding the child while monitoring the swimming movements would be a great way to take precautions.
Feel free to let your baby try out swimming as long as you monitor him or her all the way.
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Well there you have it. Happy swimming babies!