After nine months floating in utero, you’d think your baby would be born with a perfect backstroke. Michael Phelps he’s not (yet), but exposing him to a watery world beyond bathtime can benefit both of you.
You get wet one-on-one time. Once the umbilical cord falls off, you can take a newborn in a pool, as long as it’s heated. Hanging out there can be super-soothing. Cradle baby against your chest, one hand supporting the back of her neck, and slowly wade through the water. Once she can hold up her head, grab her under the armpits and keep her facing you. No cell phones, no chores—just a chance to gaze into your baby’s eyes. "Parents often tell me that pool time is the only opportunity they have to spend thirty pleasurable, uninterrupted minutes with their child,” says Jenny McCuiston, a mother of two and owner of Goldfish Swim School in Birmingham, Michigan.
Your baby gets stronger. By the time your kiddo is about 6 months old, you can do mommy-and-me classes. “They help babies increase their strength, coordination, and balance, beneficial for crawling and walking,” says McCuiston. And they’ll probably like it more than tummy time (but keep up with that, too)!
Your baby stays safer. Kids who are introduced to water early on are at lower risk for accidents later in life, even in deep water. At Infant Swimming Resource, in Charleston, South Carolina, Rebecca Bentz, a mother of two, teaches babies as young as 6 months how to flip onto their backs and float. Lessons or no, the same rules apply: Never let your baby out of your sight for a second near water.
Your baby gains confidence. Your baby will adore how easy it is to move in the water, which will pump up her sense of independence—and inspire her to motor around outside the water, too. Bonus: Splashing around in the water takes so much energy, she’ll eat like an Olympic champ and sleep like a...well, you know.
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