What is the GAG REFLEX
The 'Gag' reflex is present from birth and changes as he baby grows older and becomes used to swimming and breath holding. The gag reflex is elicited when water enters the baby's mouth ; the reflexive reaction is to close of the trachea so no water enters the lungs, this creates a water tight seal over the windpipe. However, this doesn't close the oesophagus which leads to the stomach, so the baby can still swallow water. There is no definte agreement as to when this reflex disappears and turns into learnt behaviour; some stage at the end of the first year or second year of life. It varies from baby to baby
We will never submerge a baby under 6 months just because the gag reflex is present. We will always look at other activities in the lessons and each natural breath control by introducing it slowly with the consent of the baby. Babies will always be cued and engaged with the activity and if they are ooking away, leaning bac or arched, they will not/should not be submerged.
What other reflexes are there?
The 'Amphibian Reflex'- The most basic of newborn reflexes in the water. It is responsible for the belief that babies can swim. This is because it causes the legs and arms of newborns to move in spurts that propel them forward for a metre or so unaided. Reinforcing this with practice in the pool between four and eight months helps make the transition from involuntary to voluntary leg kicking
The Righting Reflex- A baby of four or five months will try and lift their head to an upright position when placed on their back. Babies lying on their fronts will also tend to keep their heads upright above the water. These movements of the head are part of the 'righting reflex'. This reflex does not aid swimming and it isn't a good idea to try and force children on their back when its trying to sit up. in lessons, time on the back will be keep to short periods of time, and we try moving back to front and side to side in swinging movements instead
Skills are learnt through repetition. In class, we use repetition to help encourage voluntary skills such as leg kicking and breath control which will come above the reflexes as they start to naturally disappear. We use key words and phrases also help your baby to link certain activities in the water with their experiences so they know what to expect and the sensations they will encounter.
I will be with you every step of the way, so please dont worry. We will have a great time.