Not Convinced About "Birthlight's " Swimming Program for Very Small Babies Yet?

by Pool Builders on 03-26-2012 in Articles

Recently I came across a new concept called "Birthlight Baby Swimming." The article interested me, so I have sought to find out more. Imagine my delight when I realized this was very much centered around the child, promoting & requiring a stronger bonding and playfulness from parents.

It seems Birthlight's methods are designed to create an excellent foundation for the child's future in the water, promoting safe practices and confidence. As well as this, the classes are promoted as an ideal environment for mothers and their new babies to bond & socialize. They even seem to encourage the whole family to spend quality time together.

We all know every new born baby has the potential to become a water baby, and the sooner a child discovers the freedom of buoyancy and underwater swimming, the more relaxed and independent he or she will become.

Whilst I applaud this, the marketing for the Birthlight approach claims to have developed this program over twenty years. And the original approach developed in Birthlight baby swimming was inspired by Amazonian forest people with whom Françoise Freedman was doing fieldwork in her early twenties.

The forest people had fun everyday in rivers with their babies and children and learning was easy, carefree and effective. They were rough and gentle at the same time and the babies rarely cried. Babies were trained to hold on to their parents and swim towards them, and always picked up before they got distressed.

I have seen similar practices in outback Australia and parts of Asia however the Birthlight program has involved pre-birthing yoga practices and pre-natal water workouts so their baby yoga & aquatic programs seems to be a natural progression for parents.

At the moment the Birthlight movement seems centered around the UK. I could only find one teacher in the USA, New Zealand and Australia generations.

However as a 40 year plus baby teacher I find it incredible that I have not heard of this program. Could we be that sheltered in Australia?

Water as a medium for very young babies, in which parents and babies can relax together without distractions offers a particularly powerful and effective foundation for early learning. After watching many videos on you tube, parents seem to be well trained and are very gentle and relaxed in handling their infants in an unconditional loving and supporting way. The babies look content and comfortable in the water, not that different from the many other play centred baby aquatics programs around the world.

Perhaps the babies are a little smaller as they do take children into the program from a couple of weeks old.

However, whilst I fully applaud this concept, the aquatic professional in me must wonder and question about two things.

The quality of the water & provisions for these smaller babies. In many of these videos, it appears the children are in a normal public pool. I would not think it appropriate when you are working with these smaller newborn tots that it is a suitable environment.

The consistency in the training of instructors and delivery of the program. According to the web site, course and diplomas are easy enough to get, with no prior swimming background required prior to an intensive weekend course, participants can become teachers almost immediately as a requirement to gain their experience then accreditation six months later.

Working with newborns and young mothers in the water is a specialist field and should not be treated lightly as such, just on this point alone, I am not fully convinced about the Birthlight but happy to remain open to be convinced at a later date.

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