Baby swimming is one sensory activity that promotes a healthy lifestyle, cultivates a life skill and promotes parent-child bonding. In recent times, many people are captivated by the idea of how babies can rescue themselves by “drown-proofing” methods – they float on their backs spontaneously when they fall into the water. These methods promote the idea that drowning risks are decreased when babies and toddlers are taught to rescue themselves in this manner.
We have been receiving many enquiries on whether we teach such skills to babies. However, MoovSwim does not advocate in the teaching of these methods. The UK baby swimming industry has come up with a report to state its stand against drown-proofing in this manner.
There is no proven study to demonstrate that such drown-proofing methods work
There has not been any study done to prove that such drown-proofing methods have decreased the risk of drowning in young children. It is unethical to conduct such research, as it would mean that children are subjected to potential risks. It is indeed amazing to watch videos of children being able to float on their backs when they fall into the water, but have you ever considered the training that goes behind the scenes?
Forceful conditioning is harmful to babies’ delicate developing brains
In order to achieve these roll-to-back-float techniques, babies are conditioned to fall into water, and then forcefully learn to rotate to float. The initial few sessions consist of lots of crying and screaming due to the unnecessary stress and pain the babies have to go through to “survive”. While parents entrust their infants to trainers with loving intent, the experience of enforced conditioning does not match this loving intent for the child. The contradictions inherent in receiving praise and rewards at the cost of inflicted pain are known to those who study child abuse. For a young child, being thrown into the water and struggling to keep afloat under the loving gaze of his parents simply does not amount to the perception of the world as a safe place.
Rotations to back float enforced on infants is not proven to aid in early swimming
Forcing a baby to float on her back in the second half of the first year is acting against the developmental drive of human posture, the primal aim of which is to attain verticality in a top-down spinal developmental sequence. For babies forced to float on their backs prematurely, the development and then the integration of the righting reflex are suppressed at a time when they are crucial to the integration of both primitive and postural reflexes most particularly the Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex. To promote water safety and to enhance survival chances of young children should they fall in water accidentally, back floating need to be taught in a series of multiple body rotations, rather than be singled out as a static life-saving strategy.
Drown-proofing is a conditioning method that poses unnecessary stress for a child in learning water safety. We believe that children should enjoy themselves in water safely in a gentle manner, and view water as a fun medium to play in. There is no guarantee in drown-proofing your child, and parents should always supervise your child around water bodies.