MY TOP TIPS FOR SWIMMING WITH BABIES AND TODDLERS
Swimming with babies and toddlers is amazing and a fabulous way to bond with your baby, but if you are not confident in water it can be daunting. I used to teach babies and toddlers to swim before having my twins and four kids under four made it impossible to work. I wholeheartedly believe that teaching a child to swim is a vital life skill. These are my top tips for swimming with babies and toddlers.
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- Enjoy it – baby swimming lessons are not really about creating future Olympians! It is more about building water confidence and giving you a lovely weekly experience with your child.
- Swimming starts with water confidence and even just a happy splashy bath time can really help with that. The more your baby gets splashed even on the face the more comfortable they will be.
- Enjoy the water with them laugh/ smile every time they get splashed, sing songs etc… Your baby will start to make positive connections with being splashed and being in water. Apart from anything else this make hair washing and bath time fun and easy. There are some great song ideas here: https://www.swimteaching.com/2008/04/songs-and-lyrics-for-learning-to-swim.html
- Ask questions – never feel bad about asking your baby swimming teacher a question if you are unsure about an activity. When I first took my eldest to baby swimming lessons I was a little uncomfortable about some of the exercises we did, but I didn’t want to seem neurotic so I said nothing and assumed that they knew best. As a qualified swimming teacher now I understand that what was happening was totally fine, but I should have asked
- Fake it until you make it – if you are a bit nervous of being in the water or of having your baby go under water I would advise you to try not to show it. Put on that smile and just tell them how great they are doing.
- Encourage your baby to be on their back in the water (with you holding them). This is the start of floating. At some point they are very likely to stop enjoying being on their back in water and this is totally normal. I would suggest still try even just for a very short time each time you go swimming. This is because being able to float on your back is a key water safety skill.
- Try to be consistent with going swimming with your baby especially if they don’t instantly love it!
- If you are swimming with a baby check the pool temperature before you go to a public pool or before you sign up for swimming lessons. The STA (Swimming Teacher Association) policy states that the water and air temperature must be higher than for normal public swimming; at least 30°C or 32°C for babies under 3 months old or weighing less than 5.5kg/12lbs