Getting our little ones ready for lessons and ensuring that they are ready for their first submersion is imperative. This is something that you can be working on at home prior to even going to the pool. Conditioning is a method of pouring water over the face using a plastic cup and using verbal trigger words to teach the baby to respond by holding their breath and closing their eyes. They may also show other signs and reactions to conditioning.
By practicing conditioning daily, we are working on repetition of the same activity which ultimately leads to a consistent reaction by your baby. This is crucial, as we want to ensure that your baby is reacting every single time you give those trigger words ‘Name, Ready, Go’ and pour the water. We recommend that you start your conditioning in the bath tub with your baby upon returning home from the hospital.
You should sit your baby upright on your knee and ensure that you can maintain eye contact with them. When pouring the water, you should always pour the full cup of water straight over the forehead. There should be no hesitation whatsoever as we want the flow of water to be smooth and even and this will also ensure that your baby does not ingest any of the water. You should always take note of their reaction; look and listen to establish if they are holding their breath. As you start to notice an improvement, you can start to work on extending the length of your pour and counting whilst you pour. This will help you ascertain how long your baby is holding their breath for.
Why do we have to condition, I hear you ask. There are many reasons:
- Conditioning teaches breath control on command
- Conditioning helps to promote a positive and happy initial submersion
- Conditioning helps towards longer extended submersions
- By practicing conditioning regularly upon getting home from the hospital, your baby may display more confidence and be somewhat more comfortable in the water when you do go for that first swimming lesson.
- Conditioning trigger words may become their invitation to swim, therefore they should only enter an aquatic environment when they hear the trigger words and invited by a parent.
By conditioning your child you are working towards progressions in various swimming skills. These include submersions, free floating and much more. It is very important that you never submerge a baby that has not been fully conditioned properly and that you must never submerge a crying baby. This can lead to ingestion of water and develop a negative feeling towards the water. Your baby should only ever have positive, happy experiences in the water with you. Remember, conditioning can be a lengthy experience but with time, regular practice and a positive environment, you will be able to have lots of fun in working towards your baby’s swimming adventures ahead.
by Jane Lawrence
How do you keep kids interested and engaged in swimming? Share your ideas in the comments below.