Many toddlers and babies love to be in the water and taking them swimming is a great fun and helps them to learn an important life skill. Swimming with your toddler encourages bonding, because of the high levels of physical contact and helps to develop their trust in you. Taking your child swimming from an early age enables you to be sure that they will adapt quickly to the water and also helps them to develop key motor skills early, supported by the buoyancy of the water. It can prevent accidents later on, when they might find themselves around water without you and above all it can be really good fun!
Ensure that when you take your toddler to swim you do so in a pool which is at an appropriate temperature for them. Ideally, the pool should be at least 30 degrees. Do not swim for too long and make sure that your child is not getting too cold. Children’s pools can be highly chlorinated so keep an eye out on your toddler and make sure that he or she is not having any kind of reaction. Chlorine can also absolutely ravage some fabrics, so if you are going to spend a lot of time with your children in the kid’s pool, be sure to check out our range of chlorine resistant swimwear.
It’s important to introduce basic rules for the safety of your child very early on. Toddlers have already begun to develop their communication skills, so ensure that you use these to keep your child safe around the water. Make sure to tell them that they should never enter water on their own and only when you tell them to do so. Remember that however well your toddler seems to swim, you must always watch them and be close by. Don’t allow your toddler to run around the edge of pool – poolsides are very wet and can be slippery, making it all too easy for your child to slip and hurt themselves, or even fall in.
A key way in which you can support your toddler is to help them to not be afraid of the water. Fear can slow, or prevent, the development of skills and may put your child off learning to swim. Ensure that, at first, your child is completely supported when in the water and knows that you will always be there to catch them and keep them safe. This helps to build trust. Make sure that you are confident, calm and giving the appearance of enjoying yourself. Be enthusiastic and positive about everything they do in the water. This helps to give your toddler confidence and makes sure that they will enjoy swimming and want to repeat it often. If your child becomes distressed, stop what you are doing and try again later.
Teach your child to be comfortable in and around the water. Many toddlers dislike having their ears submerged under water, which often happens when swimming, so acclimatise them to this as early as possible. Try getting them to put their ears underwater, one at a time in the bath. Once they are used to this in the comfortable environment of their own home, you can try it in the swimming pool too. After this, you can teach them to put their faces in the water and show them how to float on their front and then on their back.
Once you have established these basic skills your toddler will be more than ready to start learning to swim and, who knows, you may have instilled in them a lifelong enjoyment of swimming, one of the greatest forms of exercise.
Happy Swimming – Sarah Bohn