The Natural Reflexes of a Swimming Baby
Many parents and caregivers are amazed by our baby swimming videos of infants as young as six months old successfully practicing advanced water survival techniques, rolling over, floating and even swimming underwater. We’d like to take all the credit, but it turns out babies are programmed by instinct with two very helpful natural reflexes to help protect them against drowning.
“The diving reflex” is the first of these natural responses. Known properly as the “bradycardic response,” this is a natural reflex common to many mammals, including humans. When a baby is submerged in water, the natural survival reflex is to hold their breath and open their eyes. (It’s the same reaction you can provoke by blowing into your baby’s face.) Infants also react in other ways that are less obvious: heart rate decreases and blood is conserved in the vital organs. This allows for added survival ability underwater, typically until adult help arrives.
Secondly, until they are around six months old, babies placed tummy-down in water will wave and kick arms and legs in a motion close to that of swimming. This is not actual swimming, however it is a protective reflex that demonstrates babies are born hardwired with the ability to understand an aquatic environment and, with professional support, thrive within it.
Reflexes alone are not enough, baby swimming lessons are important for very young children to help them develop these natural tools into techniques that can save them in the event of a water emergency or drowning.
Not sure if your child is ready for baby swimming lessons? Texas Swim Academy specializes in safely and successfully teaching infants as young as six months old water survival techniques that vastly improve their ability to survive a water emergency. Visit us to see a class and watch our highly-trained and certified instructors in action – we’d love to show you what your child is capable of.