This is called the bradycardic response, or commonly “the dive”, and it makes babies open their eyes and hold their breath underwater. They may also move their arms and legs in a swim like motion. This reflex starts at birth and lasts for about 6 months, occasionally up to one year. It will also engage if you blow gently on their face.
Just because babies have this reflex, doesn’t mean you don’t have to be careful when submerging your baby. It may look like they are swimming but there are risks if you aren’t properly assisting your baby. At KCS our instructors go through 40 hours of training to teach swimming and an additional 5 hours or infant specific training before teaching our parent and tot classes. This includes specific training on how and when to safely begin submersions for babies of all ages.
In Babies level 1 for children from 3 months to 6 months our goal is just to get your baby used to the water and have a fun boding experience with their parent. Level 2 is where were start working on submersions and back floats as well as basic safety skills, babies are 7 to 15 months and while the bradycardic response may be mostly gone your child will be able to hold their breath on purpose and not risk swallowing water. Our science-based curriculum allows us to understand child development and design our classes with developmental milestones in mind.