The greatest tip we can give is when you go to the pool with your baby, don’t make it about trying to ‘teach’ your baby to swim. We know that sounds strange as the topic is referred to as Baby Swimming, but the foundation of baby swimming has to be first and foremost about HAVING FUN and, if done correctly, that fun experience of water will remain with them for life. Here are some top tips from our Learn to Swim teacher.
Recently, I had the experience of taking my niece, who is two and a half months old, to our local pool. As we got into the pool it wasn’t a rushed experience, we took our time, not just in the getting changed process but also as we entered the pool and I slowly lowered her legs into the water whilst holding her close to me.
Initially we just walked around the pool. With me holding her close to my chest I felt her body relax more. I rested her head on my shoulder close to the cheek of my face and we moved around and talked. She was amazing, relaxed and at ease and not for a single moment on that first swim did I let her leave my body, but instead made sure that for the whole time we were in the water together I personally stayed calm and relaxed. That first time, we only stayed in the pool for 15 minutes even though the temperature of the water was a supportive 33 degrees.
From that first experience of water she has since been relaxed and had many fun times in the pool. From my experience it is vitally important that a young baby first enjoys the water with its family in this way.
Here are my top tips that I use to support and develop baby swimming confidence and enjoyment in the water.
1) Connection – Stay close with your baby. Make your time together in the pool relaxed and enjoyable and not about wanting your baby to achieve something.
2) Warmth – Keep your baby warm both in and out of the pool. This can make all the difference with regard to their early pool experiences. Ensure you go prepared with a neoprene wrap, a baby nappy and a towel.
3) Fun – When swimming with your baby it is all about making the experience as enjoyable as possible. Try taking some fun toys with you such as water soakers or water squirts.
4) Face Wet – Begin to introduce your child to getting their face wet. This can be achieved by using water soakers and dripping the water over their head and encouraging them to do it to you too. Face wet doesn’t mean dunking them under the water. Remember that they’ve put their trust in you and it’s important to build the relationship.
5) Movement – moving around the pool with your baby provides a different sensation to what they are normally used to. Encourage them to splash, to kick and to move however they want whilst you remain holding them.
6) Confidence – As your baby gains confidence in the water you can begin to create space between you. Use an inflatable swimming ring so that they begin to feel that they have some freedom. Then progress onto a float suit that will support your baby. Always be close and in a position to support them.
7) Time – Be conscious of time. Remember that they are very young and that they will feel the cold much sooner than you. Observe and be sensitive to this.
8) Repetition – Try to make baby swimming a regular weekly activity that you do together. The more regularly your baby goes to the pool the more joyful the experience will be and the more confidence they will acquire.