Baby swimming
August 27, 2011 1:41 PM   Subscribe

Sure a baby has a swimming reflex but that doesn't mean watching them swim isn't absolutely terrifying.
posted by Foci for Analysis (63 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Terrifying how? They haven't even grown their flesh-tearing serrated teeth in yet, and I certainly don't see any claws extended.

oh god i bet they can scent blood on the water
posted by elizardbits at 1:44 PM on August 27, 2011 [24 favorites]

Yikes. I can't believe my mother went through something similar to that, she put me in swimming classes at age 2 since dad was building a pool. She's confessed to me that it was terrifying for her, but I loved swimming when I was older and can't even remember not being able to do it.
posted by dabitch at 1:46 PM on August 27, 2011

Man, all those "you're abusing your baby!" comments make me mad. I wish my parents had done this. I'm in my late 20's and I'm pretty sure those babies would survive while I drowned.
posted by Auguris at 1:52 PM on August 27, 2011 [8 favorites]

All I'm saying is that when I get kids there's no way they are going near any body of water without inflatable armbands, helmet and parachutes. And life guards. You know what, they aren't even getting baths PERIOD. If they get dirty I'll just wash them with sand or lick them clean. And they better damn stay inside when it's raining.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:54 PM on August 27, 2011 [5 favorites]

These videos really bother me. Couldn't they let those babies play with something safer, like guns?
posted by mullingitover at 1:54 PM on August 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

Isn't it easier to just tether your baby to a cinderblock so that they can't get near the pool? This seems like too much work.
posted by orme at 1:54 PM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I am curious to see whether this triggers the same "Traumatizing to babies! No babies crying EVAR if parents can help it" response that the Jill Greenberg thread did.
posted by hermitosis at 1:57 PM on August 27, 2011

Silly babies. They don't understand you take your socks off before you go swimming.
posted by Dr. Zira at 2:02 PM on August 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

Yes, a baby might have a swimming reflex. I have a gag reflex, doesn't necessarily follow that it's a good idea to excercise it.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 2:09 PM on August 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

I hate all of these people, but especially the people who let the baby fall into the pool with concrete steps about a foot away from the baby's head.

posted by the young rope-rider at 2:11 PM on August 27, 2011

The whole point of this is getting toddlers comfortable and safe in the water so there's a better chance they'll grow up to be assured adults when it comes to swimming. Forcing them into the water when they're distraught seems counter-intuitive.
And, no, I'm not in the clan of "No babies crying EVAR." If they want something and don't get it and they cry, too bad. Let em cry til they pass out. But this, I can see that the child might actually feel like they are in danger. And then receiving an "I don't care" response from the parent doesn't sit too well with me. Then again, maybe I'm viewing it wrong. Maybe the parent made sure the child understood they were in a safe environment, but had to do it anyway because it was good for them. Like with eating broccoli.
posted by shesaysgo at 2:12 PM on August 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

I still have my swimming "diploma", it's a small leaflet that has a checklist of the skills I learned. Like "roll over" and "float" and "pick poker chips up from steps in pool". Mom says I had to swim blindfolded at some point as well, following her voice as he walked around the pool calling my name, and she spent that whole lesson trying not to cry.

Again, I loved swimming when I was older, I was in the water most of the year. I can barely watch these clips but if this is what my classes were like, I have no trauma.
posted by dabitch at 2:13 PM on August 27, 2011 [4 favorites]

This post just seems like an advertisement for Infant Swimming Resource. An American Academy of Pediatrics paper on infant swimming lessons (PDF):;105/4/868.pdf
posted by Grumpy old geek at 2:13 PM on August 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

This all seems very Neville Longbottom vs Uncle Algie to me, actually.

babies are such little fatty fatcakes that they are super buoyant, though.
posted by elizardbits at 2:14 PM on August 27, 2011 [7 favorites]

dabitch, if you had to pick up poker chips I imagine you were older. I took swimming lessons as a toddler/pre-schooler and loved them, ad have accompanied toddlers to swimming lessons that they enjoyed as well. It's not worth terrorizing them when you can wait a year or two, be gentle, and have everyone more-or-less enjoy themselves.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:15 PM on August 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

As long as the baby is learning something, and not just fussing, I think this is great.

If nothing else, if the child accidentally falls in the water they will have learned how to survive. Ideally children are never unattended around pools, but we all know that it happens way too often. If I were a parent I'd take whatever (reasonably) safe measures I could to increase their survival odds.
posted by sbutler at 2:16 PM on August 27, 2011

Regardless of the issue of whether or not this traumatizing or a wise safety precaution one should take with their children I really do like me some baby-in-pool action.
posted by coolxcool=rad at 2:17 PM on August 27, 2011

I was born prematurely and was a very skinny baby.

My mom still tells the anecdote of how she took me to baby swimming classes, put me in, and watched me sink right to the bottom.

Of course, they pulled me out or I wouldn't be writing this.
posted by bad grammar at 2:18 PM on August 27, 2011 [15 favorites]

For the moderately less insane, the Red Cross has a parent/child acquatics program that promotes "water readiness" for the 6 months to 3 years set. It's a lot of songs and games that sneakily lead towards actual safety and swimming skills while letting kids get more comfortable in the water, and giving parents a bonding activity to do with their kids. It's not going to create any Michael Phelpses, but even the two year olds start to understand some of the safety, like not running by the pool, and most of them love the water after the first lesson or two (many right from the start) and it helps develop motor skills and wears them out too.

They "chase" toys while mom or dad supports them while they kick to go after the toy; they sing "wheels on the bus" with hand motions that imitate what will eventually be the basis for strokes; they float (supported) on their back while looking at the ceiling singing "twinkle twinkle" (protip from observing: 90% of babies immediately jackknife and sink when put on their back in the water); etc. As they get older they do more and more that's like "real" swimming. My two-year-old currently thinks "bobbing" his whole head underwater is about the funniest thing EVER.

We initially picked it as just a daddy-baby activity (there are a LOT of dads in these classes) because my husband likes to swim and wanted a thing they could do together, but we're kind impressed with all the sneaky learning going on in the fun.

But those types of videos are probably not quite so "OH MY GOD" worthy.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:34 PM on August 27, 2011 [4 favorites]

Of course, they pulled me out or I wouldn't be writing this.

I'm not fooled; you're posting via an ARGH-to-english auto-translator. Keep away from my brains, zombie. I may not use em as much as I should but I like keeping em in my head.
posted by phearlez at 2:35 PM on August 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

When my first-born was little, we couldn't find a baby-swimming class for her, so we tried to train her in our bathtub (yes, we were crazy). Then, when she had learned to walk, we went to this huge pool area in my in-laws' town. We played in the babypool, but at some point, I decided I needed a swim, and my mother-in-law agreed to take care of mini-mumi.
I dove in, began swimming, and then suddenly I saw mini-mumi jumping in the water and sinking into the deep end. WTF!!! I am not a good swimmer, and it was hard for me to dive down and get her up. People were screaming. Arguments ensued, mother-in-law promised it was an accident, and I resumed my exercise. Then baby jumped back in. Almost drowning hadn't made any bad impression at all. She is still like a seal in the water at 18.
posted by mumimor at 2:53 PM on August 27, 2011 [4 favorites]

One of the first hazes of a memory I have is of being in a pool and my parents helping me to float. As far as I can remember, I've always been able to swim, and I'm very thankful for that.

Regardless of what the Pediatricians say ("no data are available to determine if infant and toddler aquatic programs increase or decrease the likelihood of drowning") the logic of introducing a toddler to water in a safe environment and allowing them to experience the sensations of floating, paddling, and holding their breath under water seems reasonable to me. If a toddler has the experience of floating and moving towards the edge of a pool, I think it makes sense that they'd be more likely to follow through on that if they should ever fall in unsupervised.
posted by Revvy at 3:05 PM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I loved baby and mom swim with my youngest, started when he was between 1 and 2 and would have started earlier if I could have found a class. He loved it too, and is a strong swimmer and surfer as an adult. When my older son was about the same age, he had stepped into a pool at a party and sank right down. My husband saw his little hands sticking up and pulled him right out, no harm done, but it was scary and what if nobody had been watching? All my kids became good swimmers, but starting as a baby for my youngest was a big plus.

I attend a water exercise class now, and some of the women there never learned to swim and are afraid, even in a shallow pool. That is sad. It is so easy to learn when young.
posted by mermayd at 3:23 PM on August 27, 2011

Almost drowning hadn't made any bad impression at all.

So the moral of all this is -- put the baby in the pool and get yelled at; don't put the baby in the pool, and the baby will just jump in the pool. There is clearly no way to win.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:29 PM on August 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

My dad and Grandpa did this with us. With Grandpa it was especially fun, because he was this huge old whale of a man and we would float out to the center of a 3 acre lake on his belly and he would teach us (2 skinny little 2 y. olds) to float like Grandpa. Watching these makes me thing of that.
posted by Tchad at 3:42 PM on August 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

I can't see what riles folks so in this.

Seems to me that the amount of water-angst that is generally projected onto children these days seems at least as harmful, forever instilling an irrational expectation to instantly drown. Our son discovered how to swim at the seaside at three, after having played in the sand and surf for his first two summers, when we convinced him to try on a mask and snorkel. He walked into the water, had a look under the surface, and then, since there was interesting stuff further out, walked into the sea until he was floating. He floated out and paddled around for half an hour, finally steering back to the shore. (And was admittedly perplexed when we told him that he'd just swum.)

That's just to say: there is an instinctive relationship to water that can be fostered, and if one way to do that involves seeing how an infant can get flotation, where's the harm? Sure: if they hate it, lay off - but I would think a good ISR trainer would not resort to forcing them as a teaching approach.
posted by progosk at 3:43 PM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I can see that the child might actually feel like they are in danger. And then receiving an "I don't care" response from the parent doesn't sit too well with me.

In my experience, about 50% of kids cry during their first swimming lesson. Its understandable- they've just gotten the hang of gravity and now they're expected to deal with buoyancy too, and its cold and wet and there's a strange woman telling them what to do. I'd cry.

But an "I don't care" response from the parents is the absolute best thing you can do. If your child reacts to water with tears, and you run and pull them out and try to soothe them, that validates their fear. Water must be scary, or Mum/Dad wouldn't have reacted like that.

When I taught, we encouraged parents to bring a magazine or their phone and pretend to read during the lesson (actually reading was also allowed). Whenever the student called out for their attention, they would look up, smile, wave, and go immediately back to what they were reading.

I'm not familiar with the technique taught in these videos. This may be because the pool I taught at was only mildly heated, so we had to set our age minimum as 18 months, whereas the kids in the videos are less than a year old. When we did the tripping/falling drill, we tried to instill a reflex to immediately spin around after hitting water. This was because poor swimmers tend to start to dogpaddle when they hit the water, resulting in them swimming away from the edge into deeper water. In their panic, they don't realise that the wall behind them is much closer.

I'm torn on the value of teaching swimming skills to very young children. I know first hand it can work- I'm alive because of the drill I described above. And water familiarisation from a young age is invaluable. But I also worry about it causing complacency. Teaching your kids to swim is important, but there's a reason why its the third out of the five instead of the first. And not just because it scans better that way.

I found the lack of a fence in the final video chilling. A door so light that a pomeranian can push it open should not be the only thing between your child and your pool. If the parents have taken the time to have their son taught to swim, but haven't had a pool fence with an automatically locking gate installed, they need a slap upside the head.
posted by PercyByssheShelley at 3:48 PM on August 27, 2011 [4 favorites]

especially the people who let the baby fall into the pool with concrete steps about a foot away from the baby's head.

I'm strongly in favor of heaving the babies into the pool early so they can save themselves if something terrible happened, but I, too, was freaking out over those giant concrete steps. Don't make it easy for terrible things to happen while you're STANDING THERE, people!

I was a crazy water-loving baby and when they took me to the beach for the first time at four years old they thought they could leave the tiny winn by the surf and I'd play with buckets like the other babies. Then they glanced back and I was making my determined doggy paddle for the back of the break zone.

Babies cry about all kinds of things that are good for them, like baths and food they don't like and taking naps. If it was a bunch of people dunking the babies for giggles, that would be horrifying. This is just safety preparedness.
posted by winna at 3:50 PM on August 27, 2011

This is a really interesting post. Mr. M. and I just got our pool re-plastered and opened it for the first time last weekend (right in time for Hurricane Irene, but at least we have 30,000 of non potable water now), so we've been talking about our childhood memories of swimming a lot lately.

Mr. M. had swimming lessons as a kid and was on the swim team in high school. He and his brother were all state swimmers back in the days of yore. During college and after his first year of law school, he spent summers as a lifeguard at the public pool in his neighborhood and he also gave swimming lessons and later coached a swim team. Apparently this was a very good way to meet girls.

About a week ago I confirmed with my mother that I never had swimming lessons. When I was maybe 6, my aunt and uncle got a pool. All of the cousins (there are 9 of us now, but at the time the 3 youngest hadn't been born) spent all summer roughhousing unsupervised in the pool, none of us wearing a single drop of sunscreen. My mom and my aunts would sit inside and drink tea -- probably relieved to have a break from their needy children -- while utter chaos reigned outside. Somehow between being dunked and being thrown off floats left and right by each other, we all figured out how not to drown.

It's kind of funny and kind of sad to think about that level of parental non-concern now. I'm sure my cousins and I were all very fortunate that none of us drowned, but at the time, it was like no one even thought about the possibility that anything bad could possibly happen to 6 (and later 9) kids under the age of 12 left unsupervised in a pool. I think I probably wouldn't be as hands off around pools if I had children, but I'm really glad that I got to grow up around a pool the way I did. I'm anxious about a lot of things, but I've never been anxious about water, which I'm sure I would be if my mom and aunts were young mothers now.

And now for a tangent...when my aunt who had the pool was about the age I am now, she died of breast cancer. She left behind my uncle, their 3 young sons, her nieces and nephews and her brothers and sisters-in-law. Our extended family grew up together at her pool. I really miss my Aunt Maureen. She was funny and irreverent and loving and open-hearted toward all of us. I wish I'd been able to get to know her as an adult and I wish she was here now so that she could swim in my pool.
posted by Maisie at 4:06 PM on August 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Won't somebody PLEASE think of the children?????

That said, Go Banana jr. has been in swimming classes since she was 6 months old (the youngest Toronto Parks and Rec will take them). Infant swim classes are entertaining on so many levels. After the initial panic and mommy-clutching most of the little helpless roly-polies really quite take to the water.
posted by Go Banana at 4:16 PM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I wonder if we can get to see the outtakes.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:22 PM on August 27, 2011

Im confused..I think this is great and all but question, does the baby hold its breath while under water? or are they able to breath in the water? I mean,, they have lived it in for 9 months (water) ...-courious mommy-to-be
YoungNMarried 5 days ago

posted by piratebowling at 4:30 PM on August 27, 2011 [7 favorites]

Im confused..I think this is great and all but question, does the baby hold its breath while under water? or are they able to breath in the water? I mean,, they have lived it in for 9 months (water) ...-courious mommy-to-be
YoungNMarried 5 days ago

posted by piratebowling at 7:30 PM on August 27 [+] [!]

How is that even a question? Obviously the babies are breathing through their gills.
posted by Maisie at 4:33 PM on August 27, 2011 [5 favorites]

My kid has never had any fear of water (or: traffic, high edges, knives) and we've been taking him in with floaties his whole life. It's frustrating that he won't let *us* teach him to back float, because honestly he'd pretty much be swimming if he could do that, without having to take lessons. But no, he refuses to let Mom show him anything and so is still in his life vest at 5.

I wish we could have afforded the baby swimming lessons at 18 months, but we were in a One or Other of Us Always Seems to Be Unemployed time of our lives then and were more worried about rent.
posted by emjaybee at 4:42 PM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm glad that last one starred an "Infant Baby", because watching an adult baby swim would not be as interesting.
posted by Mooseli at 5:04 PM on August 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

My parents told me my first experience with water was at 1 1/2 years old in Spain at the Mediterranean coast during summer vacation. They let me play in the surf and said I pretty much immediately chose to stay in the water all day long every day for the rest of the vacation. Apparently they couldn't get me out without huge amounts of drama and crying. Mind you the waves and the tides in that area (bay of Rosas at the time) are fairly gentle. In a weird way being in the water was somewhat safer than being on land... I remember another vacation a few years later in the same area where I got blown off my feet constantly by gusts of Tramontana winds coming out of the Pyrenee mountains.

Anyhow, we went camping there every summer for as long as there was little kids in our family (I'm the youngest) and I remember that there was always parents with toddlers and little kids and they were allowed to play in the water too. Of course people would be keeping an eye on them at all times just like my parents kept one on me I'm sure. I certainly don't remember any sort of panicked attitudes about it all.

For me and my friends (mostly born at the beginning of the 70s/early 70s) childhood was filled with activities, toys and environments that I'm pretty sure would send many of today's parents into a frenzy of outrage and fear.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 5:15 PM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hairy Lobster: My parents told me my first experience with water was at 1 1/2 years old in Spain

Umm, I mean, first experience with water in terms of something resembling "swimming". I'm sure my parents put me in contact with water at least occasionally during the year and a half leading up to that point in time. :D
posted by Hairy Lobster at 5:18 PM on August 27, 2011

Hairy Lobster: My parents told me my first experience with water was at 1 1/2 years old in Spain

Umm, I mean, first experience with water in terms of something resembling "swimming". I'm sure my parents put me in contact with water at least occasionally during the year and a half leading up to that point in time. :D
posted by Hairy Lobster at 8:18 PM on August 27 [+] [!]

I don't know, I heard that was the first time you were bathed.
posted by Maisie at 5:27 PM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

The first two little pop Gunns did not get lessons this early. They learned to swim about the age of 5. But the youngest pop Gunn took mommy and me swim lessons. He is now a big white water kayaker and surfer but does not even have his driver's license yet. The other two love to hang by the pool, but not active water sports participants. Probably just ocincidence, but you never know.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:30 PM on August 27, 2011

Stuff of nightmares.
posted by punkfloyd at 5:57 PM on August 27, 2011

I don't understand the big deal. I have no idea why anyone construes this as abusive. Infants have a diving reflex they don't outgrow until 18 months. You can push their heads under water and they will hold their breaths, instantly and automatically; I know this for a fact because I ran this experiment with my infant sister on more than one occasion, just to try it. (She went to an Ivy so I don't think it did her any harm.) She would flail (startle reflex) but she never cried. It was no big deal.

Our neighbour's child was born at home in a pool and continued to be immersed and then to have swimming lessons from infancy. She could float on her back and paddle before she could walk. This is immensely preferable to the other neighbour's 2 year old who got up one morning, climbed over his crib, opened the door, walked down a flight of stairs, opened a sliding glass door, crossed a patio, and drowned in a pool while five adults who loved him slept.

This was before mandatory gates and pool alarms, but I think carefully supervised early swimming instruction is far less perilous than the alternative, which is basically just hoping your kid doesn't drown. Surely having a skill gives you a better chance at survival than not having it.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:16 PM on August 27, 2011

Some of the comments are absurd! How in the world is is negligent to teach your child basic survival skills??
posted by 200burritos at 6:46 PM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not having a pool is another option. A pool plus a small child is crazy dangerous. Even children who know how to swim can easily drown.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:47 PM on August 27, 2011

My daughter just finished an infant swimming class at 20 months. It was 10 minutes a day 4 days a week one on one with the instructor. Most lessons either myself or my wife were in the water with her as well. It's moderately traumatic on the first lesson or two as they are definitely expanding their comfort zone (and yours). After that it went really well until we started working on the swim then rotate and float action because she didn't always want to float as much as she was being asked to.

What was interesting was that several of the kids that went before her were older and some already had some degree of anxiety about the pool. Invariably the first lesson or two would be traumatic but by the end of the first week the were generally over the fear response and were enthuisastically trying to pick up both rudimentary swimming a floating.

Even though I don't have a pool at my house having basic water safety instilled at an early age is something I think is critical. In the period of time that it took for us to get her to pass a clothes test (simulating falling into a pool with clothes and a diaper on) the comfort level of both my wife and myself has gone up dramatically. We'll still be in close proximity whenever she's near the water but we won't be on pins and needles the whole time.

Other than it being moderately expensive I found it to be a rewarding experience and while it's no doubt at least a little traumatic, I'm not sure that the emotional cost isn't worth the increased peace of mind.
posted by vuron at 6:59 PM on August 27, 2011

I'm with Darlingbri and others. I don't see the big deal, and I don't have a reflexive horrified reaction to these videos. As I think I have mentioned previously, my son and I were doing swim classes at the local San Diego YMCA when he was a wee one. I would blow in his little face, he would reflexively gasp, and I would drop his little ass under water, and he would pop up like a little cork. He could also float on his back, and by the time he was two, he could swim from the middle of the pool to the edge. Hell, by the time he was four, he was swimming the length of my parent's club pool, thereby earning the right to jump off the damn diving board. Put your children in the water as quickly as you can! Your kid will be a confident swimmer, and your fears of infant drowning decrease tremendously.

That's my two cents.
posted by msali at 8:23 PM on August 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

It’s interesting how different people’s reaction to anything involving children is. I’m missing whatever gene makes you see them as anything other than small, undeveloped people. They’re not automatically cute, or interesting, or whatever.

I have no idea what would be terrifying about those videos. Nothing like that reaction would have even occurred to me. I did think the couple I watched were interesting, and a pretty smart idea.
posted by bongo_x at 9:40 PM on August 27, 2011

This does no good for those proverbial children who drown in 5-gallon buckets. And forget rip tides. Also: When taking your baby to the beach, try not to get them sunburned.
posted by IndigoRain at 10:08 PM on August 27, 2011

The thing that blows me away with these videos isn't the babies- it's the lack of fences. The one where the kid in the blue suit falls into the pool, flips and floats- but then looks like he's struggling to float, dunking at least once.


fence the pool, close the gate, learn to swim, supervise and watch your mate, learn how to resuscitate!
posted by titanium_geek at 12:50 AM on August 28, 2011

I find the "absolutely" video very disturbing. It's not just that the baby is crying, is that she is being held on her back by both arms very much against her will, and struggling to get out of the grasp of someone who is apparently trying to harm her. I cannot for the life of me see this as a good way of treating a small child. I also disagree wildly with this parenting philosophy of "ignore their cries". Just because something, in your abstract adult judgement, "shouldn't" be disturbing, or isn't dangerous, does not mean that you should not comfort your child when they are upset about something. The upset exists whether you think the reason is "valid" or not. I think that all the child is being taught when treated that way is that mommy and daddy don't care, are not there for you, and can't be relied upon for emotional support.
posted by parrot_person at 12:51 AM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Mom says I had to swim blindfolded at some point as well, following her voice as he walked around the pool calling my name, and she spent that whole lesson trying not to cry.

So they had Marco-Polo lessons too?
posted by Gungho at 5:05 AM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh gourd. I learned to swim before I learned to walk. I love swimming, it's pretty much my favorite thing ever and I even used to do it competitively. Absolutely no fear of water on my part and I've taught swimming lessons to (older - as in, 5yrs and up) kids.

For his part, my son seems to have caught the water bug from me. He's 5mos and from the very first time I put him in the tub, he's loved the hell out of his bath and will "swim" happily for... well, he could do it forever, but at some point I get sick of having water splashed into my eyes (I get in the tub with him) and well, that's the end of his fun. He will very, very happily stick his head all the way back (while I'm holding him) and put his ears in the water. He'd probably get his whole face in there were I not totally NO FUN WHATSOEVER and refuse to allow those kind of shenanigans.

Anyhow. I tried. Couldn't watch. Too "OMIG-D WOULD YOU AT LEAST HOLD ON TO THAT BABY JESUS H."
posted by sonika at 8:53 AM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Elder Monster was born on a day that was 84 degrees at 8AM. The entire rest of that summer was much like that - hot, sticky, and disgusting. And our air conditioner was not performing well. But our apartment community had a nice pool, and I decided that we would avail ourselves of it.

I think he was a week old when I first took him into the pool? I caught a lot of hell for that! But I kept doing it, holding on to him when he was tiny, and eventually getting him one of those infant pool rings so he could float around and splash when he was able to sit up on his own. When he was about 14 months old, he wriggled out of his donut-thing, realized he could float on his own, and gleefully yelled "I FWIMMIN!" And that was that.

He's 19 now. I can't drag his skinny ass out of any pool he gets in, not for love, money, or food.
posted by MissySedai at 10:30 AM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

hmmm...more evidence for the 'hairless humans evolved in rivers not trees' theory? i wonder if baby chimpanzees are as agile in the water?
posted by sexyrobot at 10:45 AM on August 28, 2011

i wonder if baby chimpanzees are as agile in the water?

The other apes do not like to swim because their body density and center of gravity makes staying afloat very difficult.
posted by Revvy at 11:46 AM on August 28, 2011

Swimming chimp. See related YouTube videos.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:39 PM on August 28, 2011

The baby in the first video is making the sign for "milk" over and over. Sure, fine, swimming, whatever. Someone give that kid some food!
posted by gurple at 3:19 PM on August 28, 2011

I love teaching babies the sign for milk because they apparently think about milk All. The. Time. It's like in The Sims when they're walking around the house and just randomly have thought bubbles like "diamond ring" or "UFO".
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:55 PM on August 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

Yeah, I was mostly just "eek this is a little weird to see" until I got to the link in 'absolutely', at which point I had to stop watching, because that little girl is terrified and being forced against her will, quite clearly.
posted by so_gracefully at 10:10 PM on August 28, 2011

Swimming is good. Forcing children to do anything till they scream and thrash is not.

I think loving the water and enjoying it should be the first objective (assuming the Prime Objective has been met, i.e., adults protect children from ever accidentally falling into water)

Sigh. I should read mefi in chronological order. Now I'm just imagining these babies growing up believing they can surf Teahupo'o.
posted by Surfurrus at 2:40 AM on August 29, 2011

assuming the Prime Objective has been met, i.e., adults protect children from ever accidentally falling into water

But you can't. With the best intentions in the world, you cannot unequivocally know this will never happen. With the exception of homicides, all childhood drowning deaths are accidental.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:11 AM on August 29, 2011

So--and I'm not arguing here, it's a genuine question--wouldn't it be better to instill into children a healthy fear of water? Or at least let them keep their natural inclination to assume that water is dangerous and they should seek the comfort of a parent? Wouldn't overriding that fear make water less safe?
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:38 AM on August 29, 2011

"wouldn't it be better to instill into children a healthy fear of water?"

My husband, who's from Florida, said this was a major parenting goal when he was growing up, that parents didn't WANT kids to think water was fun until they were 7 or whatever and could take "real" swimming lessons, because you wanted them to be afraid of the endless number of poorly-secured backyard pools until old enough to deal with it. (I have no idea if this is still the case or if this was a time-bound phenomenon, nor how widespread it was, but most of his friends grew up like this.) I, having grown up in the midwest where hardly anyone had a pool and swimming was a supervised, summer-only, public-pool activity, thought this was bizarre, but then saw the logic in it when I thought about it.

Anyway, when I suggested we do the "mommy-and-me" water acclimation classes, he had to really think about it and get comfortable with the idea, since his reflexive response is to keep that healthy fear instilled as long as possible. (He decided since we live in the midwest AND it was a red cross course, it would be okay.)

So yes, apparently there are two diametrically opposed schools of small children and water safety, as well as the continuum along the middle there.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:46 AM on August 29, 2011

Fear of water can be very dangerous - it is panic that kills. Learning to understand - if not love - water is essential if one lives near it.

I was raised around water. My children and grandchildren grew up in Hawai'i, so were in the water as infants. We never "taught" swimming when they were so young. They learned about the power of waves, the dangers of reefs, the slipping of sand (and strong currents and drop offs near the edge). They learned to 'feel' the ocean. They all copied us big swimmers - and could do basic floating and dog paddling very early.

My toddler grandson insisted on testing big waves; a hard way to learn, but we stood nearby to fish him out by his suit. His mother was still swimming way out to the far reefs a week before he was born. My oldest granddaughter was more studious. She followed us to surf, duck-dive big waves and could free dive fifteen feet deep by the time she was 8. By the time all the kids were 5 they were taking 'formal' swim classes. Most competed on swim teams and were experts at snorkeling and surfing. They never turn their backs on the ocean.

If you live by water, you just have to learn to respect it ... and how to not panic. I think that is what those babies were really learning -- to trust their bodies ... to be a part of the water. Maybe if people aren't around water a lot those classes are a 'short cut' to the kind of security felt by real water people who are connected to the ocean.
posted by Surfurrus at 1:38 PM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

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