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Hanging simply refers to your baby holding onto an object above with her hands. Brachiating is similar to hanging, except that the baby moves from one hold to another by swinging her arms (like a gibbon swinging across tree limbs).
Brachiation bars are commonly found in playgrounds.
Both these activities can be used to improve your baby's respiration, as they help to increase her lung capacity. This in turn helps to increase oxygen flow to the brain.
One of the reflexes that newborns have is the grasp reflex, whereby they will automatically grasp onto an object placed in their hand. This grip is often strong enough to hold the baby's entire weight.
We would advise only starting to try to let your baby hang by herself after she is able to hold her head steady, and starts to bear at least some weight on her legs. In the beginning, we would advise you to try this exercise on a bed, and also have a partner assist you by being ready to catch hold of your baby in case your baby lets go.
Let her hold on to your thumbs as she is seated and facing you, then gently pull her up to a standing position. While she is holding your thumbs, also place your other fingers over her fingers so you can hold on to her if you feel her grip loosening. If she is holding on tightly enough, then proceed to lift her arms higher and eventually lift her legs off the ground too. Make sure her hands and your thumbs are dry and not slippery.
The good thing about using your own thumbs is that you will get a good idea as to whether your baby's grip is tight enough, and if not, you can immediately hold on to her hands by closing your other fingers around her fingers. Once your baby has gripped tightly, she is very unlikely to suddenly let go, but if she is tired, she would start to loosen her grip gradually, so you should have enough time to react if her grip loosens.
Once she reaches the age of three, she may start to have the ability to brachiate along brachiation bars. This is good not only for improving respiration, but also for coordination and general motor skills.
Now, on to swimming...