Summer is here and the holiday season is often when your baby and toddler may learn a new skill. One of these is learning to swim and this can bring many benefits for your baby. It can be a slightly daunting experience for most parents trying it for the first time, though for the most part there is nothing to worry about, as infants can start swimming from birth. Be aware though that babies can chill easily, so consider the temperature of the pool.
Swimming is a wonderful activity for helping your baby and toddler to improve their coordination and balance, their muscle tone and fitness. It is our country’s favourite pastime, which makes it very social and fun. It can be a true family event.
Here are some ideas for giving your baby water confidence and getting them swimming
• Little babies love the sensation of being in warm water; they have spent the last 9 months floating in amniotic fluid!
• Get them used to water by bathing them and gently playing with them at bath time. Try to get their face wet so they get used to the feeling of the water.
• If possible, go to the swimming pool when it is quiet. Pools can be quite noisy and overwhelming
• When you are carrying your baby to poolside and getting in, try to hold them facing you so that they feel relaxed and confident.
• Cradle your baby in your arms, supporting their head and lower them into the water and let them ‘float’. Maintain eye contact, keep smiling and talking to them calmly and reassuringly.
• Try gently trickling water onto their face
• Remember little babies will get cold quickly so it's ok to keep it short.
Older Babies and Toddlers
• Make sure your baby and toddler feels safe – hold them as you enter the water and use floaties, arm bands and swimming aids to give them more confidence and eventually independence
• Have fun when in the water and make a game of it
• With very young children keep it short
• Start using the right language and really encourage them to use their legs