Free swimming, what is it?
Bath time here a quiet moment and privileged shared with her baby that many parents appreciate on a daily basis. But do you know that it is possible to give a bath a little more “sensory” for your baby, without any artifice, simply by letting him discover the water in his own way? This is what free bathing allows, a bath without any childcare accessories to hold it (deckchair, bath ring), the baby simply deposited in a bottom of water at the right temperature.
“The so-called ‘free’ bath is really a moment of free motor skills where the baby will be in a bathtub, or a foldable bathtub / swimming pool, completely free to move, with a minimum of water, of course, so that he does not risk anything” establishes Jasmine Holder, physiotherapist specialized in pediatrics in Strasbourg , and fan of free swimming, who regularly offers it to the parents of his little patients.
Free motor skills and the benefits of free swimming
Practicing free swimming regularly is above all a moment of pleasure, but benefits on the tone as in development of the child should be noted. “The free swim is a very rich activity in terms of movements, the baby is not held, by a deckchair for example. Freed from any constraint, in a bottom of water, baby can play with legs, armsand judge the characteristics of the water : pat it, splash it, feel the effects of water on the skin, even on the mouth” says the physiotherapist
That’s not all, free swimming can have a real positive effect on minor developmental abnormalities that babies may encounter: “In an infant who presents with small engine delaya free swim spent on the back, then when the parents feel comfortable, on the stomach, will in a way a little force baby to raise his head to play and so stimulate his head posture.” evokes the professional, who explains that she also offers it to children with torticollisor a positional cranial deformity.
How to set up this free swim at home? The process is very simple, as explained by the physiotherapist.
As for a classic bath, a free swim requires water at 37 degrees approximately, the body temperature, which is run in a bathtub about 5 cm high.
The benchmark is that once the child is lying down, the water must be between baby’s ears and eyesso he has no risk of being underwater, even if he moves or turns around.
The material, a simple towel
For the free swim, no baby equipment is not necessary. “I only recommend placing a towel at the bottom of the bathtub, for the soft/pleasant and non-slip side it provides. In addition, if the child moves or turns around, his jolts will be dampened.”
Timing issue we do not exceed 15 minutes, even if baby is having fun. Free swimming is very energy-intensive for him, nor is it a matter of him being cold, exhausted and turning this positive moment into a moment with an unpleasant ending.
It is also not necessary to do only free swims on a daily basis, it should not not be a constraint but a sharing between the baby and his mum or dad: “The best thing is to think in organizational terms. Hurrying to give the child a free swim when you come home from work, tired, is not of much interest. In contrast, make time for the week in free swimming, when the parent has time and can also enjoy it, seems to me a good decision.
Finally, we offer free swimming before soaping which would make everything more slippery. We let him play, we soap and rinse before baby is too tired.
When to start taking a free swim? At what age ?
If free swimming meets your expectations and desires for autonomy of movement, it is still better to wait a few months. “I don’t suggest never on a newborn infant, evokes the professional, first of all because just after birth, it is not the first thing to do, and there is something else to think about than free swimming. And then everyone must take their mark, baby as parents. On the other hand, from the age of 3 months, offering open swimming is quite possible.
any family bathtub classic allows you to try your hand at free swimming. You don’t have any at home? Free swimming remains possible by adopting a baby bath adapted to the child’s age, such as a collapsible bathtub “but it must be wide enough for the child to stretch out their arms and legs without bumping into the edges”, advises Jasmine Holder. Also think at the swimming pools which offer a simple alternative.
Can free swimming represent a danger?
Practicing free swimming does not mean, of course, practicing a bath without any safety rules. It is imperative that an adult be present. Water in general can be a risk factor for drowning for the child, since it can be submerged. “But the conditions of free bathing are not dangerous: not only is the infant under the direct supervision of the parentsbut we are talking abouta bottom of water precisely for this reason. “Remember to prepare everything you need for the bath outing (towel, clothes, diaper, etc.)
However, nothing prevents you from going gradually at first, keeping a physical contact with a hand on the child’s stomach or under the neck…to reassure you as well. Then to keep only eye contact, and communicate with baby by asking him to move and enjoy it.