I consider myself to be open- minded about certain things. What some people find strange or weird tends to spike my curiosity. Well, imagine my reaction when I stumbled upon this, and countless similar videos on Youtube.
Holy moly, it’s a floating head! Of course, I started thinking: “Does it hurt the baby?” “Why do they do this?” “Why haven’t I seen this in the US?”
As I started to look at more videos and asked some of my Chinese clients to help me understand this, I came to discover that this practice in very common in China and other countries. It is seen as a way to transition the newborn from the aquatic environment of the womb to the “traumatic” world.
It is thought that the environment created in the tub allows the infant to move about freely in a suspended state, much like the womb. Many believe that the weightless environment creates a platform where the babies can move their limbs, get exercise, stretch and explore their world, all while being cognitively stimulated by a nearby parent. Usually songs are sung, music is played, or the parent simply talks to the baby as it floats around in the tub.
Hmm. I sat there, conflicting emotions. Part of me thought; “this is just too weird, creepy almost…” but then the other voice in my head reasoned that the babies all seem to enjoy it the more they get used to it, and it is such a common practice that if it were harmful to the children, it wouldn’t be so popular.
I looked at the company that produces it,and didn’t entirely agree with their marketing campaign:
” The first step to active infant swimming and water safety is learning to tread water safely and securely. Swimava allows natural movement of arms and legs so your baby can develop the ‘treading movement’ naturally and as early as possible”
Any well-trained and experienced infant instructor will tell you that the first step in infant swimming in NOT treading water securely, but rather establishing comfort in the water, breath control and buoyancy. The essential body position for any kind of “survival” style floating or “regular” swimming is horizontal, not vertical. An infant/ toddler simply doesn’t have the physiological, mental or physical ability to tread water. It is developmentally impossible at that age.
However educated I am on the subject of infant swimming, I know there are hundreds of parents who aren’t knowledgable about the specifics of body position, water buoyancy and swimming related nuances, but if this little ring will help bring a parent closer to their child, get them interested in the water, learn to love, appreciate and respect the water, then one day they will be enlightened at their first official swim lesson.
I will let Modest Mouse’s song “Float On” sign off:
Alright already, we’ll all float on.
Alright already, we’ll all float on OK.
Don’t worry, we’ll all float on.
Even if things get heavy, we’ll all float on.
Alright already, we’ll all float on alright.
Don’t you worry, we’ll all float on.
We’ll all float on.