This Week's Questions
[posed by John F. and Inetta C.]
Do you know?
Although I do not consider myself an expert in the following, I feel I have developed a technique which helps babies love being in water, including under water. I base this technique on the idea that babies have a primitive reflex that causes them to hold their breath when you blow on their face. Used in conjunction with diving for a favorite toy, I believe parents could use this technique to help their children to learn to love being in water. The essence of the technique (as used with my three year old son Jack) is this.
First, I blew on his face to get him used to holding his breath. Next, I worked on getting him used to having his face submerged, so as to minimize the chances he might get startled by being under water. Finally, I chose a moment when he and I were connected and brought him under water with me.
How did all this turn out? While we were under water, we made eye contact, smiled, and laughed at each other. It was a truly an amazing moment for both of us.
Currently my wife is pregnant with my next son, Aiden. When Aiden is born, I intend to use this technique with him as well. In fact, in order to do a truly effective study of this technique, I've asked my wife, Jennifer, if she will agreed to have another ten babies with me.
My questions are:
[Question 1] By what criteria does one come to be considered an expert in techniques such as this? In other words, how could my technique gain credence?
By what criteria does one come to be considered an expert in techniques such as this? John, I would advise you to bypass this question entirely and consider submitting a brief article to a parenting oriented magazine, either in print or online. Certainly what you've described sounds like it would make a very interesting article. And something I believe many parents would find useful.
Moreover, waiting until one is proclaimed an expert is a sure fire way to prevent you from being seen as credible. It will also guarantee you will have little to no chance to share your ideas on acclimating babies to water with other parents.
As for how your technique could gain credence, John, I'd suggest you consider approaching your local YMCA, public pool, or nursery school to discuss with them how you might co develop some kind of program. Perhaps the theme of this program might be how discovering a love of water could build and strengthen parent-child bonds. Sounds to me like it would be great fun.
At the same time, it would also go a long way toward helping you to gain credibility, both as an expert, and for your technique. Besides, what parent could fail to see the beauty in this kind of thing?
[Question 2] The irony in all this is, I learned that babies have this reflex from a conversation I had with a truly wretched parent, a woman who threw her baby into the water after triggering the breath response. In fact, when I think about her doing this, I feel strong reservations as to whom I might teach my technique. My main concern is the possibility that if it were used incorrectly, or without a knowledge of emergence, that the opposite outcome might happen; rather than learning to love the water, the baby might get injured.
With this in mind, how would I know who to teach the technique to? And what would qualify them as teachable? Would the teacher / parent have to be "fully" conscious? If so, how would you test for their ability to stay conscious?
I suppose you could develop a "rule out the psychos" test. Translation. No character type "ones" should be allowed into the class.
All kidding aside, you could probably rule out those who would be absolutely the wrong candidates simply by asking people how they feel about throwing a baby into the water.
If they respond with horror, then they will probably do okay. But if they start lecturing you on the benefits of going through the "school of hard knocks," then you might just want to begin warming up the red hot poker and do some practice on the tied scrunchy end of a blown up balloon. Just in case you might need to insert said red hot poker into the human orifice which most resembles the tied scrunchy end of a blown up balloon.
Oops. Did I just slip into a Layer 4 tirade again <smile>. Sorry. As you might guess, people who hurt babies aren't too high on my admiration list.
I'm sure you get my point though.
[Question 3] By what criteria could people be considered safe enough to be taught this technique?
What would they need to do exactly? I'm not sure. Perhaps something like first having to teach another adult the technique before ever trying it on a baby.
Maybe the parents could pair off and try teaching the technique to each other? Perhaps a response of sheer laughter would be the pass / fail criteria.
Maybe they could all explore their own injuries in and around water? And perhaps, they might try to help each other by doing some emergence techniques so as to develop compassion.
Maybe they could explore the various reactions a baby has to having breath blown in it's face? And what is the best way to do this and get the baby to laugh?
Maybe all of the above?
[Question 4] If a parent or teacher has an injury about water, how might this affect the baby?
In the theoretical sense, we know that all blocks impair one's ability to visualize something. Which then leads us to rely on non visual based substitutes like logical or statistical constructions to guide our actions in life.
In essence, wounds literally blind us to some visual aspect of life, meaning, we become unable to picture something. Thus, being wounded in and around water means we become unable to picture some aspect of being in and around water.
How would this play out in the real world? Well, if you had a serious injury, such as almost having drowned once, and if you were working with a baby in a shallow pool of water, then perhaps there would be no "noticeable" impairment, with "noticeable" being the operative word. Move the work into deeper water though, and the script of whatever happened in the original scene would internally repeat. At least the psychological and spiritual aspects of the injury.
How would this affect the baby?
Any relived mental and emotional pain or blankness would definitely color the baby's experience negatively, perhaps even to the point wherein the baby might get startled. Were this to happen, then the baby would incur what I call an "iterative block," a second generation injury which directly results from being personally exposed, in a startling way, to someone else's block.
Please know, in all likelihood, you've never heard me mention this term; "iterative blocks." Even so, iterative blocks account for a good portion of intergenerational injuries, blocks which children have in common with their parents.
Know, however, that despite outward appearances, wherein these blocks may appear to be the same injury as the parent's, in truth, they are never the same injury. They only appear this way outwardly because they get restimulated by what appear to be the same life circumstances.
To answer your question though, any injury a parent or teacher has can potentially injure a baby. Why? Because babies pretty much live 24/7 in the state of hyperawareness. They also make constant efforts to connect to whomever is near them. Thus, babies are especially vulnerable to startling disconnects, and startling disconnects always injure babies. Including in and around water.
[Question 5] When the wind blows, how would the baby respond? Does the baby need to be submerged in water in order for this reflex to be useful in teaching babies to love water? Is the baby's response similar to when a baby is being bathed? Is this the same reflex we use when we drink water from a glass?
 When the wind blows, how would the baby respond? This depends on the association the baby has made to the combined experience of wind and water. And on whom was holding the baby. For instance, were it to be you who was holding the baby, I'd guess the baby might have a pleasant aha just from being held by you in this situation. However, were the baby to be held by someone who was injured in and around wind and water, the baby might risk being injured.
Not surprisingly, if you were to watch people facing strong winds and ocean waves, you might notice that it's not only babies who respond to wind this way. Most people hold their breath when the wind blows in their face. More so perhaps when in the presence of large bodies of water.
What I'm saying is, I wouldn't be surprised if you found that many adults have injuries in and around facing winds and water. This means your ability to teach them your technique would have to include addressing their blocks in and around wind and water, including that they would need to learn to consciously breath and open their eyes at least to the point wherein they would not endanger the baby. Ideally, you might even orchestrate some joint "aha's" between the parent and the baby, experiences which, in effect, would permanently bond the parent and baby in a common emergence.
 Does the baby need to be submerged in water in order to use this reflex to teach babies to love water? John, I would think so, although I'm sure there are degrees of being submerged here. How deep, and for how long, for instance. These are questions which would need to be studied and incorporated into your technique as time went on, thereby expanding the potential scope of any possible emergences. And minimizing any chances the baby would be injured.
 Is this response similar to what happens when a baby is being bathed? My guess is, it would be similar, but not the same. Large bodies of water effect us in ways not easily put into words. For instance, consider how you feel when you captain your sail boat or when you water ski. Now consider how different this feels from when you are in a bath tub or in a shower.
 Is this the same reflex we use when we drink water from a glass? Wow! Great question. And being your wife is a P. T., I'd suggest you ask her for her input. My guess is that it is not the same reflex, although it might overlap. Moreover, it potentially could add a world of credibility to your technique were you to become more knowledgeable in and around how human beings react to both wind and water. Especially babies. But also adults.