To help your baby become comfortable going underwater in the pool, here’s a simple trick: Blow in their face before dunking them. They will instinctively gulp air and hold their breath, making it a perfect opportunity for you to pretend the kid is the next Ian Thorpe for a quick second.
Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images
It’s a common technique used by swim instructors — the gust of air activates what’s known as the mammalian diving reflex, which is strong in babies up to around six months. (It still exists in older infants, but gradually lessens.)
The response is a defence mechanism for the body, the same one that protects them from getting milk in their lungs.
How to do it: While in the pool, hold your baby under their arms, facing you. Count to three and blow quickly on your baby’s face. Watch the baby make that funny reflex face and then gently lower your baby’s head completely under the water for one second.
Lift your baby back up and then smile and cheer. Your baby will probably emerge like it was no big thing.
Here’s a video from swimming instructor Beatriz Skeens:
You can also do this in the bathtub before pouring water on your baby’s face. Skeens writes that if you practice for many days, you’ll no longer need to blow — the baby will know to hold his breath on the count of three.
If the kid does get some water in his mouth, don’t freak out. It happens to everyone at some point.
It’s important to note here, in case it needs to be said, that just because a baby can hold his breath under water does not mean he can swim. This trick is merely meant to help your baby become more comfortable in the pool or tub, with you right there by his side.