"Readiness is when they do it."
Magda Gerber was an early childhood educator, who worked with parents and babies in the States. She incorporated the theories and ideas of Emmi Pikler, who was a paeditrician in Budapest. The thinking behind the quote above is that children can't be rushed into achieving milestones - they will only learn to sit, stand, crawl, walk, run, read, and do all the other things we expect of them when they are ready.
The blogger and parent educator Janet Lansbury was inspired by Magda Gerber, and she has an excellent website full of resources and information. I decided to use some of her ideas with my daughters, although I definitely wasn't a purist - like most mums, I relied mainly on my intuition rather than following a set of parenting rules.
The main concept underpinning Gerber and Lansbury's ideas is to let your baby develop at his or her own pace. As parents, we're under such a huge amount of pressure - you need to have them walking at one, toilet trained by two...the list is endless! When I learnt to slow down and watch my baby, rather than endlessly trying to get her to do things according to my expectations, I started really enjoying my days as a mum.
In the swimming pool we can encourage a baby to develop at his or her own pace just by learning to watch them. We can look for signs that a baby is uncomfortable or not ready for a skill, or signs that a baby is finding something too easy and is ready to progress. There is no need to push a baby to go under water to meet a photoshoot deadline in your lesson, or to lie on their backs when they aren't yet ready. When you relax and give your little one plenty of opportunities to show you what they can do rather than trying to impose your expectations on them, you're in the position to get the best out of them in the pool.