How to teach babies to swim – A mom’s experience guide

With the summers on set I have been taking my almost 3 year old daughter to swimming almost everyday and regularly was asked several question on Instagram stories about when I began, how to begin and tips on helping babies to adapt to the love for water.

So before I begin, please note that am not an expert. I am a Mom. I read and I research and then I figure out what works for my baby 🙂 So this blog sums up m teaching experience little K. Please don’t treat this as the bible and am sure you would be clever enough to figure out the zillion data floating on www!

My first experience in the pool with my baby

I took my baby for her first pool experience at 9-10 months age and she took to water like a fish. I personally love to swim but I learned it when I was some 15-16 years old and decided I wanted my child to get comfortable with water early on. Yes, don’t treat this as swimming classes. Till children are 4 its more important to encourage them to love water, learn to close their mouth, breath control and basically kick and paddle through

The When and How to begin with swimming with baby

It can be a nerve wrecking for many parents to take their precious child to a public pool, especially here in India. Before I share about our experience here are few useful tips to decide when and how to take your baby for the first dip

  1. Your child must be at least 12 weeks old or 6kgs plus, whichever comes first. Along with age, take your child’s experience and comfort with water into account before you decide to jump in
  2. Ensure the pool is at least 30 degrees temperature or choose to begin when the pools are naturally warmer.
  3. There should be a gap of 30 minutes post a mild feed or 1 hour post a solid meal.
  4. And of course, get a good swim diaper to hold the explosive poops!
  5. It is not important that you are a swimmer but you need to get into the pool and should be comfortable with the depths. Your child is watching you and needs your support for a new experience.

So can an infant swim?

From what I have researched and seen, yes! I have seen babies as young as 18 months or 2 year doing under water swim on youtube. However, with the limited knowledge and experience I have as a parent who loves to swim, my approach was a bit different. I wanted my kid’s experience with a swimming pool as gentle and joyous! No aggressive, cry-it-out techniques here.

Preparing for a fun swimming experience 6 months to 3 years

  1. Most kids take to the love for water early on and a fun bathing time can enhance this experience. For kids 6 months to 2 years old, help them get comfortable with water being splashed on their face and close eyes as and when. Use verbal triggers to let them know when to expect a splash and get ready. Breath control is one of the key swimming skills that needs to be worked on early on
  2. At this age, you simply want to introduce your child to the water. You can play in the pool with her yourself or join a class that’s about having fun and getting comfortable in the water — not learning to swim. Activities may include showing her how to splash, singing songs while bobbing around, and playing gentle games together.
  3. Ensure you are in the water all the time along with your baby and always supervising and close by. It’s best to be on the deeper side and stand while you can hold them in your arms and support them.
  4. Remember when holding infants in the pool to grip them softly and sink them down so they can feel their buoyancy. Remember your body language will rub off on the child so make sure to relax and communicate positively through verbal and non-verbal interactions.
  5. The horizontal floating hold is one of the most important holds for teaching babies to swim. Not only does it allow for good eye contact and exercise, but importantly it puts baby in a horizontal body position ready for submersion. This horizontal position is significant because when we float baby we want the water to run smoothly and evenly over the baby’s forehead. Many people make the mistake of submerging infants in a vertical position which can easily force water up the nose causing discomfort or distress.
  6. For kids 2 years plus you can begin simple lessons like teaching how to blow bubbles in water and getting their face wet without swallowing water. Never submerge a baby under water. They can swallow huge amounts of the chlorine treated water and you really don’t want that.
  7. For kids 2 plus you can also try fun games that help them to try and kick and try and float in water. Maybe throw a ball and watch them reach for it. Kicking his legs, and float supported on his stomach or back.
  8. Most kids can be taught to control their breadth once they are 2-3 years old. Start with just bobbing in water and letting the water vet the chin and then slowly completely till nose. Always let the child know before you plan to submerge them. Maybe like 1,2,3 under! So they are prepared to take a breadth and then hold. Another important this is to let them learn to jump in water. Initially just with sitting on side and you gently pulling them in. Next let them know if they jump mommy will catch them. Sooner they will be comfortable to hold their breath and jump in
  9. Aim for short but fun timing. Watch out for signs of distress. Keep your swim sessions timed for 10-15 minutes and increase them as per the child’s eagerness. Swim at least 3 times a week to make it efficient. Every day is even better!
  10. Ensure you give loads of praises. Many children won’t instantly feel comfortable in the water and will lack the confidence to continue with future session. Keep their spirits up by constantly praising both during and after the swim class, no matter how small or slow their progress is.

I hope you find it useful and share your comments. If there is anything else you did like to talk about, drop a comment or catch me on Instagram for a daily dose of fun!

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