Tips & Advice for Getting Your Baby to Swim
We all know that most babies love water. Put them in a basin of water and they will happily wade around, feeling the splashes of water against their tiny body. This is why many parents would want to take this to the next level and teach them how to swim. But how are you supposed to that? Let’s find out.
When babies should start learning to swim?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children are not yet developmentally ready to learn to swim until the age of four. However, this is only for the formal swimming forms like the backstroke, breaststroke and such. But it has also been well documented how babies are seemingly able to instinctively “swim” when placed in water.
Some people explain this ability as a sort of remnant memory from their time on the womb immersed in amniotic fluid. This ability is most often displayed during the first 6 to 12 months. Thus, this period is considered as the best time to introduce them to the water, as they are still very comfortable when placed in it.
After the above period up until their 18th month, babies are still able to adjust to the water and quick submersions. However, their level of comfort steadily declines. By the time they reach 19 to 24 months, toddlers enter what is known as the “challenging twos” stage where they tend to be more apprehensive to get into the water. As such, it would be best to introduce them during the earlier stages.
Choosing the right swimming program for babies
While many parents would prefer to teach their babies to swim themselves, there are also those who opt to let professional trainers do it for them. If you belong to the latter, there are a few things you need to consider when choosing a program for your bundle of joy.
Think about the skills that your baby will learn under the program. Note that there are specific skills that kids should learn at a certain age. These are summarized below:
1. 6-10 month old babies and swimming
At this early stage, babies can learn to hold their breath for a few seconds when dipped underwater. By 12 months, some are able to swim for five seconds in between two adults. They can also instinctively reach out and grab onto the side of the pool
2. 19-24 month old babies and swimming
Once they become confident, toddlers at this age can start learning how to jump from the side of the pool, turn around and swim back. This is also a good time for them to develop their endurance as well as kicking abilities.
3.28-36 month old toddlers and swimming
Here, toddlers are now able to learn to come up for a breath after going underwater. However, it would be best to teach this skill only after the young swimmers have learned to initiate it on their own. it is also at this point where they develop strong flutter kicks for propelling themselves in the water.
4.36 months to 4 years olds and swimming
Kids will now learn to perform the back float. This is also when they become more encouraged in diving and swimming underwater.
Opt for a program that has a gentler method of teaching. Remember that your goal is not only to get your child swimming but also develop a liking for it. Also, make sure the program you sign up for has the right pace for your child’s development.
Swimming exercises for youngsters
If you are the type who wants to do a more hands-on approach to teaching your baby to swim, the following exercises are designed to help you guide them into getting accustomed to the water and eventually making their first swim.
1. Jumping into the pool
The goal of this exercise is to introduce your baby to the water and teach him how to get in. To start, let your baby sit at the edge of the pool. Here, you need to teach them that you, as their parent, should be the first one to enter the water.
Once you settled in a good position, signal for them to jump. You can call him out with “1, 2, 3 jump!” or any similar phrase, just make sure you use the same phrase every time. At first, you can guide them by letting hold onto your fingers while gently pulling them in. Once they get accustomed to it, you can start encouraging him to jump on his own.
2. Going under and blowing bubbles
With your baby now accustom with being in water, the next step is to get them to learn to hold their breath underwater. One great way to introduce this to them is by blowing bubbles with him. This will teach him to blow water out and not breathe in while his mouth is underwater.
3. Passing underwater
Once he or she is already comfortable with holding his or her breath underwater, it’s time to teach him or her some basic swimming motions. Hold your baby by their sides horizontally. Once you are ready, signal to them and gently put them under. While they are submerged, gently push them around and encourage them to kick his legs.
4. Swimming independently
With your baby already developing the confidence to go underwater, you can start teaching them how to swim without assistance. Begin by repeating the previous exercises, but let go of him for brief periods. Note that this might startle him a bit, so be sure to be ready to catch him.
Once he gets the hang of it, walk backward while holding him in front of you. Gently let go and urge him to swim towards you while you spread your hands for him. Your baby will now instinctively swim towards you.
Teaching your kids to swim at an early age will give them an important skill they will be able to use later on. However, don’t rush to get your baby paddling away. Instead, make these a gradual learning experience to allow them to fully develop their motor skills and confidence. Also, make sure that this would be a fun experience for them and you.