SUMMERTIME BABY PLAY
Family holiday parties, afternoons at the beach, outings to the park, and pool parties are favorite family summertime activites. When spending time enjoying the summer weather and outdoor activities, plan some fun baby play time. If you are planning a picnic at the park, bring a large play mat for baby to explore and crawl around on. Include some swim lessons for baby in your weekly schedule to introduce baby to some play time in the pool which is fun and important water safety training. Then baby will enjoy spending time in the water with you at the pool. Wach a toddler swims across the pool using the same technique taught at several swim schools for babies. Remember that babies were in water before they were born and enjoy playing in the water at an early age.
TIPS FOR INTRODUCING BABY TO SWIMMING
One of the most important things to remember when you are ready to take baby swimming is to find an instructor who is trained in water safety and teaching infant swim lessons. It is important not to try and teach baby to swim without a trained instructor. Bring lots of simple toys to the pool for baby to play with such as the classic rubber duck. Pack some food because baby will be hungry after a short time in the water. They get a lot of exercise while in the water, which is why it is a recommended activity as part of an anti-obesity campaign. Swimming is also very strengthening and develops strong legs for early walking. Most important of all, make swim time a fun time for baby.
WATER SAFETY TIPS
Remember to practice safety at all times when at the pool, near a body of water such as the ocean or lake, or at a home where there is pool. Never take your eyes off of baby or allow her to go out of your arm’s reach when near water. If you have a pool at home consider installing a safety fence with an experienced baby proofing company such as Family First based in Los Angeles. Also, remember that babies need to be watched closely when in the smallest amount of water, including bathtubs at home. Of course, one of the best water safety tips is teaching baby to swim.
RUBBER DUCK BATH TOY
One of the classic baby toys is the rubber ducky. Babies love them. Why? Maybe babies like them so much because of their adorable face, or their small size is easy to manipulate with just one hand, and they float on top of the water. These 2 inch long toys are easy to hold in one hand and chew on. The wind-up bath toys have parts that may break off, are very heavy, and baby can not learn to manipulate them on her own. Developmental toys such as the rubber duck invite the participation of the child in creating the activity.
RUBBER DUCK AT BABY SWIM LESSONS
Bring the rubber ducky to infant swim lessons. It provides baby with a simple way to entertain herself when she is waiting for her lesson or resting during the lesson. This is one of the best pool toys for baby because it floats, is easy for her to hold, and can be put in her mouth. If you have two or three different colors or styles it is beneficial for the swim time. They float on the water near her as she learns to paddle with her arm. Then you pick her up to rest while handing her the duck.
BATH TOYS FOR BABY GIFTS
These adorable rubber ducks come in different colors and even different costumes which make for fun baby gifts. These simple and inexpensive bath toys make great stocking stuffers for babies and can be tied on to the top of a baby shower gift in place of a bow. Swimming pools offering infant swimming lessons often have quite a stock of these animals. The variety include the cowboy rubber duck, mermaid rubber duck, firefighter rubber duck, and the princess rubber duck. Visit Partypalooza.com for pages of variations on these two inch bath toys. A unique baby shower gift would be a collection of six different ducks. This is one gift where moms are happy to receive more than one!
BABY AT THE BEACH
Swimming, sandcastles, and sun are a definite recipe for fun! Watch the above video from socciandpency’s youtube channel to see Shelby prove our point. In the summer, the beach is the largest playroom baby could imagine. Observe Shelby crawling on a very large blanket and then continuing to crawl on the soft sand. She has the uncluttered expanse of the beach around her. Imagine the different sensations she experiences through her skin. She feels the texture, temperature, and dry or wetness of the sand under her hands and knees. She also feels the waves of the sea washing up and receding away as she sits at the edge of the shore with her mother. She anticipates these waves with delight and curiosity. She loves to play in the sand with her fingers and explores the different sensations between the dry and wet sand.
She also enjoys watching the other children splashing and surfing in the water! Her eyes receive a lot of stimulation as she follows the moving water on the sand, the child on the boogie board, or the grains of sand falling out of her fingers. For babies not yet crawling, they will love to watch what is happening around them. As Shelly demonstrates above, the beach is a wonderful playground providing much baby play. Bring her pail and shovel if he has one! Please read our articles “Summer Tips for Babies” to keep baby healthy and safe during her summer fun.
BABY IN THE SWIMMING POOL
Summertime play also includes baby swimming lessons! Children and babies of all ages benefit from the time in the water. Not only is swimming fun, it is also beneficial to motor skill development. The pressure of the water on the skin is wonderful for developing proprioception, which is the ability to clearly feel one’s body move in space. Improving proprioception will improve any motor skill a child or baby is learning. Often babies meet their motor milestones sooner when they participate in infant swim lessons because they improve both muscle strength and coordination. To learn more about babies and swimming, please read our articles “Can Babies Swim” and “Baby Diving Reflex.”
Stellar Caterpillar also loves the environment of the swimming pool. It is fun, dynamic, and confidence building. Swimming is a very productive outlet of energy, develops muscle strength, improves coordination and challenges young children to try new and intimidating activities such as going down a water slide. When conquered, these challenging activities build self-esteem. With both babies and children, learning to swim makes them water-safe as well. Please find a qualified infant swim instructor and learn pool water safety. And, don’t forget to bring snacks and dry clothes along so they can get comfortable after they get out of the water.
PROPRIOCEPTION AND THE SENSE OF TOUCH
How do we know where we are in space? Through pressure. When you sit on a chair you feel the contact of your bottom against the seat of the chair and your feet against the floor. When you recline on the sofa to watching TV, you feel the pressure of the back of the legs, pelvis, torso, shoulders, and head against the fabric on the furniture. These sensations of pressure tell you that you are lying down. This ability to feel orientation in space is called proprioception. We have receptors in the cells of our skin, muscles, joint, and bones that respond to the pressure of touch by sending signals to the brain to pay attention to the area receiving the touch.
THE PRESSURE OF WATER, SWADDLING, AND SWIMMING
For baby, she has been in the watery environment of the womb for many months. Water creates pressure and helps baby feel her body more clearly. After birth, parents often swaddle baby to recreate the secure feeling in the womb of the pressure of water on baby’s body. The pressure of the material snuggly wrapped around her body is comforting because it helps her feel where she is in this new airy environment. Her new environment gives less sensation to the skin, bones, and muscles than the watery environment of the womb. Babies enjoy swimming lessons because the water is familiar to them and the pressure feels comforting. Benefits of baby swim lessons include gentle strengthening and improved proprioception as she feels each body part very clearly as it moves against the pressure created by the water. Learn how to swaddle your newborn and locate a school offering swim lessons for babies to develop your child’s proprioception.
TOUCH, MOTOR SKILLS, AND BABY’S BRAIN
Baby’s brain sends the signals to her muscles to move. As baby learns her motor skills, touch is very informative. The pressure of your hand on her leg clarifies that particular body part in her brain. When she feels her leg more clearly she can use it in an improved way. For example, after tapping and gently squeezing baby’s leg she may begin to kick that leg with more vigor. An activity to try at home is to gently tap each of baby’s limbs in a rhythmic way and name them for her. If repeated regularly, she will like it and it may calm her when she is fussy. Just remember, through the sense of touch information is being sent to the brain where her motor skills originate.
COACHING MOTOR SKILL DEVELOPMENT WITH TOUCH
The baby in the photo at the top of the post is on her stomach. She feels she is on her stomach because of the contact of her abdomen and chest with the floor. When her teacher puts her hand on baby’s back, baby feels that part of her body more clearly. She also feels where she is in an improved way because of the contact to both sides of her torso, front (against the floor) and back (from the teacher’s hand). She feels more secure when she feels the dimensionality of her torso rather than only one side. This technique can be used to improve motor skill activities such as tummy-time. When baby is on her tummy you can tap her back so she feels more secure and will learn to lift her head. Simple hands-on skills can be learned to guide baby through each motor milestone.
A SWIM LESSON FOR MADISON
Autumn is here, the kids have returned to school, and yet the Southen California warm sun continues to shine. What better time for baby swim lessons? The weather is beautiful and the pools are not as crowded! In the above video, Madison’s teacher introduces her to the floaties. With the floaties on she practices kicking, one of the first motor skills for swimming. Very closely watch her legs at the very beginning of the video. This is Madison’s fifth lesson, and she is not quite nine months old. The first few lessons focus on getting her comfortable in the water and introducing the kicking and paddling. We will follow her progress in future posts.
BABY SWIM LESSONS, LOS ANGELES
One can find all of the important elements of a swim school, as we discussed in our post “Can Babies Swim,” at the Los Angeles area Beverlywood Swim School:
- individual instruction
- warm water (about 90 degrees)
- lots of toys
- happy babies and children
The above video was filmed at the Beverlywood , offering adult, children, and infant swim lessons. In our post about baby swim lessons, we discussed the technique of Jen Loven. Jen was famous for her infant swim technique, although her school closed. The Beverlywood Swim School was started by Crystal Scarborough, Jen Loven’s sister. Today their instruction continues the successful technique developed by Crystal and Jen.
Some of my adult fitness clients took their children to swim lessons at Beverlywood as much as 20 years ago. I have been told, “It’s the ONLY place in LA to learn to swim!” An afternoon at the pool is absolutely wonderful baby play. There is so much for her to see and to explore. One observation I have made is that upon arrival at the school, Madison gives very big smiles! She curiously watches the swimmers. After swimming, she is very energized, happy and, of course, hungry! P.S. Don’t forget to pack some baby food!
NOTE: Stellar Caterpillar is not paid in any way to promote Beverlywood Swim School. We simply want to share outstanding local infant resources with Los Angeles readers.
“See Nigel Run? U.K. Push to Trim Baby Fat,” Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2011.
“Babies should spend less time watching TV and swim more, according to new health guidelines issued by the British government,” reports the Wall Street Journal regarding recent U.K. Department of Health recommendations. For the first time, the agency issued exercise recommendations for children under 5 as part of their campaign to prevent and reduce obesity. Almost 1 out of every 4 adults in the U.K. is obese. In the U.S., 17% of children and adolescents are affected by obesity, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The baby play activities identified by the U.K. agency as “sedentary” and “to be reduced” include spending time in baby bouncers, strollers and car seats, and watching TV. Recommendations encouraged for infants include swimming with parents and playing on baby gym mats. Time on a mat encourages rolling, crawling, and many motor skills which exercise baby’s muscles.
This is the first time the U.K. has issued guidelines toward the under 5 population. To date, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has not issued any recommendations for infants and children under the age of 5. Last month The Institute of Medicine, which advises the U.S. government on health issues, released recommendations for infants and toddlers as part of an obesity prevention campaign. The report recommended adults give infants under 6 months of age daily tummy time exercise. In our previous articles on “tummy time,” we discussed how the exercises during tummy time strengthen many muscles such as the neck, back, and arms. Tummy time is indeed vigorous baby exercise! Both tummy time and swim time for babies provide great exercise and help prevent obesity.