Infants Saving Themselves

Infants are born with multiple reflexes that promote survival.  Many of these are fully functional and manifest their usefulness in the first days of life.  Others seem to be more of a mystery, with the exact reason for why they have the reflex is less visible.  One of these reflexes is called the swimming reflex. 

The swimming reflex appears when an infant is placed face down into water.  The infant will then begin to paddle and kick in a swimming motion.  Logical reasoning behind this reflex is that if an infant were to be dropped in water they would be able to help survival by making these motions.  Now, of course, infants can not swim, and this reflex seems to disappear after four to six months. 

What if you could use this innate relfex to help teach a baby to actually swim..  at least to the point that they could keep themselves afloat for long enough for an adult to rescue them?  It sounds crazy, but it can be done. 

It is possible to teach an infant to keep themselves afloat if they find themselves in any body of water ranging from a lake, to a bathtub.  According to infants age 6 months to walking can learn to:

“Float, stabilize their float, relax, breathe, rest, and aquatic problem solve.  This age group has the physical
ability and mental capacity to be taught to rotate, rise up, and get their own air.  They can maintain a breathing float until help arrives.”

Toddlers, beginning walkers to 3 years old, can:

“Propel through the water, rotate onto their back, stabilize their float, relax, breathe, rest, rotate to horizontal propulsion, and aquatic problem solve.  Children at this age have their own unique movements in the water and should not be expected to “learn to swim”.  They can propel through the water, but are not yet ready for “stylized swimming”.  Toddlers can be taught to move from underwater to float to solid ground, utilizing their stabile floating posture, breathing, and propulsion as they go.”

Drowning is a real and serious danger that can happen to any child.  Giving children all the skills possible is a fantastic way to help prevent a tragedy.  However useful this technique is in the first couple years of life, it can never compensate for constant adult supervision of children when around water. 

You don’t believe me?  Watch this video 

I found all of this information at

Rebekah Pinegar


~ by rebekahcp on September 19, 2009.

One Response to “Infants Saving Themselves”

  1. I sawa program showing doctors in Russia delivering babies under water. These babies started moving their arms and legs as soon as they came out and floated to the top. They stayed under for a couple of seconds. It seemed like this felt natural to them. This was a few years ago. Did you see anything new on the web on this?
    Behzad Moaddeli

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