Teaching your toddler to be confident in water takes time. These simple steps will help ensure that you both have fun in the pool for many years to come.
Make Sure they’re Comfortable
First things first: choose swimwear that’s comfortable and practical. A simple, non-bulky swim suit will help your toddler to feel at ease in the pool.
Splash About stocks a great range of children’s float suits and swimwear that helps them stay safe and comfortable.
Take it Step by Step
A swimming pool with walk-down steps is perfect for introducing toddlers to the water. Sit down with them on the steps to help them get used to the water. Do they have a favourite bath toy? If it’s practical enough to pop into your bag, bring it along to the pool.
Alternatively, these Maru Kids Spikey Monster Squirt toys are great for little hands in the pool.
Blow Bubbles in the Water
Most kids are naturally fascinated by bubbles – try blowing bubbles on the surface of the pool and watch as they immediately join in.
Kick and Splash
While sitting on the step, you can teach your toddler one of the main skills of swimming – kicking their legs. Kids will love this opportunity to create as much splash as possible. Demonstrate how to best kick your legs, keeping your legs quite straight, only bending slightly at the knees.
If you’re not the best of swimmers, this simple video gives some tips on how to properly kick in the pool.
Reaching Under the Water
Still sat on the steps, it is now time to get your toddler more comfortable submerging body parts under the water. A pair of goggles will submerge under the water. Place goggles on the step below where you are sat and challenge your toddler to reach down and grab them.
Take them on a Ride
It is now time to move away from the steps. Pop your toddler on your shoulders and walk through the pool, up to a depth where their feet will touch the water. This helps them understand that moving and gliding through the pool is natural.
This is one of the harder steps of the process and one that may be met with some resistance – going underwater with your toddler in short bursts. Use a 3-2-1 countdown and lift them upwards and then under water with your, pulling yourself up shortly afterwards. Always use smooth movements so you don’t alarm your little one.
Getting Back to the Steps
To ease any nerves that your child may have, show them how easy it is to get back to the steps by taking them to a side of the pool and place their hands on the edge. Then guiding their hands over one another, lead them back to the steps. Encourage them to try this method with you close by.
When your toddler is calm, it’s time to start the back float. Kneel in the pool so your shoulder is just out of the water and keep your child just in front. Then encourage them to rest their head on your shoulder and take a deep breath. With your hands, slowly lift the child’s bottom and legs up until the toes break the surface of the water. Hold them loosely for a few seconds before letting go. Unless toddler starts to move or panic, they should stay prone and afloat. The longer they stay afloat, the more comfortable they will feel and the more they will enjoy it.
The Glide and Swim
Once your child is comfortable that the water will support them, get them used to moving through the water with your support. Start about 5 feet from the steps and support the child on their front, holding them by the chest and legs. Encourage your toddler to put their arms out in front of them, close their mouth and put their face in the water. Then slowly and smoothly move them towards the steps.
Repeat this step, leading the child to the wall this time and get them to kick their legs. Continue to repeat, encouraging them to paddle their arms as well. As their kicks get stronger, take away your hand from their legs and when their paddles get stronger, remove the other arm. Always ensure that you stay close to the toddler.
If your child loses momentum, support them again and encourage them to start kicking and paddling again. Aim to repeat this until they can confidently swim five feet.
Be sure to praise your toddler throughout the process and reward them with playtime at the end of the swimming session.
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