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What will baby get out of swim class?
Marcy Westchester
Marcy, it's good to get your baby comfortable with water, which can be refreshing for children. Water play is also fun for parents to share with their baby.

While many young children enjoy the water a lot, others are a little more fearful. Follow your baby's lead. During the baby's first six months, it's good to get him comfortable with the bath. If he seems to enjoy the water, you can try a pool with warm water after 6 months, once his immune system is better able to defend against germs. But if your baby is a little fearful of water, don't push him until he seems ready.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that parents can consider infant/toddler aquatics programs to help their child become comfortable and have fun in the water, but not for learning actual swimming skills. They point out that baby aquatic programs have not been shown to decrease the risk of drowning, a leading cause of death in young children. Although some children can learn to swim as toddlers, most are not developmentally ready for formal swimming lessons until they're 4. If your baby participates in an infant water program, he might appear more comfortable in the water, but be careful not to develop a false sense of security. Whether or not your baby participates in one of these programs, it's crucial that you always supervise your child within arm's length in or around water.

You should also know that babies can catch infections of the eyes, ears, skin and respiratory and gastro-intestinal systems in pools. Remember to put your baby in swim diapers to help prevent the spread of germs from stool. Bathe him well after leaving the pool. And don't take your baby to the pool if he's sick, or if he has problems with his immune system.
Karen Sokal-Gutierrez M.D., M.P.H. Pediatrician