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Water Reflexes & Babies - What You Didn't Know

Updated: Apr 6, 2022

It's terrifying as a parent to think about bringing your baby into the water and learning to gain a swimming foundation at an early age. Parent & Me classes were designed with you in mind. They are incredibly important for many reasons, the first being to educate you.

For many, this might be the first formal swim lesson you have ever taken. Safety is our first priority. We want to show you how to be safe with your baby in and around water and educate you along the way. If you have never had swimming lessons, if this is your first baby, or if you have never taken a Parent & Me swim lesson before, we highly encourage you to take this next step. You will also benefit from the social environment, this is an excellent place to meet other parents who are in the same stage of life as you and your child.

You baby was born with certain life saving reflexes that aid them in aquatic environments. We want to take a moment walk you through a few of them and why they are important.

The "gag" reflex, is an instinctive reflex for babies to naturally hold their breath. We can trigger it in several different ways and doing so, we help teach team how to cope with natural instincts they already have. One example of how we do this is getting your babies face wet. As an adult, this reflex is triggered much differently, a good example would be if you unexpectedly tripped you automatically would hold your breath. If you look at the diagram, you can see where the epiglottis is located. The epiglottis acts similar to an on/off switch to the larynx and esophagus. A great example of another way this reflex is used is if you are introducing your baby to food through "baby led weaning".

The "mammalian reflex" is something that every mammal has and is triggered by cold water. Once triggered, it naturally allows the body to use less oxygen by slowing the heart rate. You could practice triggering this by blowing in your babies face. Watch how they naturally respond, they will automatically take a quick breath in and begin to momentarily hold their breath. Many parents do this to calm a distressed baby.

It's critical to learn to work with these reflexes, become confident as a parent in an aquatic environment, and get comfortable with your child in water. It is our desire to see all families safe and prepared, contact us directly for more insight on Parent & Me Swim Lessons!



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