Child enrichment classes have become increasingly popular in the last few years. You can choose from music sessions, cooking classes, sensory play groups, little gym classes and the choices continue to grow. Baby and infant swim classes are a relatively new addition to the selection.
In Malaysia, swimming classes for children typically start at about 5 years old, an age when they are able to go into the pool and start learning strokes. These classes are available at public pools, clubs, some schools and private lessons at a condo or at home.
Now there are baby swimming classes being offered that start from about 4 to six months of age. It may seem a little young, but most babies do enjoy the sensation of water, which you can see during their bath time.
In a baby and infant swimming class, led by a properly trained and certified baby and infant swim teacher, you will be shown water safety techniques for both baby and parent. You will be taught exercises to help with familiarisation and water confidence and, perhaps most importantly, it will be a fun experience for you and your child to interact with each other as well as other parents in the group, under the guidance of an experienced teacher.
Water safety is often the primary reason parents might choose to attend lessons. Most people have direct access to a swimming pool in their condo or home, or go on trips or a holiday where there will be a pool, sea, river, lake or waterfall to play in. So learning safety techniques is actually a necessity.
Introducing your child to recreational swimming at an early age can help with preventing a fear of water at a later stage, especially if it is introduced in a structured way. It helps to develop a familiarisation of water and boosts their confidence. Lessons can be beneficial for parents who may also have a fear of water and how to handle a child in the water. An experienced teacher will be able to give parents the right tips for holding a child safely and confidently in the water and how to enjoy the time and have fun too.
Any activity with your child that encourages movement and interaction is beneficial and being in the water with your child and engaging with them has many plus points:
- It helps with learning – moving in the water, playing with toys, singing songs are all stimulating activities.
- It helps with their physical and mental health – swimming engages the entire body and helps with lung development, as well as increasing the flow of oxygen to the brain.
- It helps with developing reflexes and coordination – exercises are taught that encourage hand, feet, eye coordination.
- It helps with developing their strength and body movement – kicking and moving of arms through the water are beneficial for development of the body.
The skin to skin contact and the close proximity of child and parent make it an activity that helps promote bonding between parent and child. It develops trust between child and parents. A lot more fathers are also taking the opportunity to go into the pool with their child and enjoy the experience, sometimes even more than the child!
Being in the water can also be a very relaxing and calming experience for many babies and their parents. There is the fun aspect to it, but at the end of the lesson there are often songs and exercises introduced that add a more gentle aspect to the session.
Baby and infant swimming sessions are seen to be a well rounded activity for both parent and child to learn and enjoy a beneficial experience together.
There are a few swimming schools to choose from in the Klang Valley:
Aquabubs SwimSchool – Bangsar
Erika Peres Swimming – Various locations
Happy Fish – Kota Damansara
LA Swimming Centre – Port Klang
Supersharkz - Various locations
What you need to ask:
What certification do the teachers have?
How much experience do they have?
What are the facilities like – baby / child friendly? Clean? Warm water showers? Easy access?
What you can expect to pay:
Between RM30 – RM90 for a group class, usually 30-40 minutes in duration, which is enough time for baby to be in the water. Most swimming schools will charge for a term plus registration fees.