Advice on Swimming With Babies and Toddlers
Swimming is a favourite activity for a lot of children, and there are plenty of reasons why. They have fun, and as they gain confidence in the water it spreads to lots of other areas in their life too.
Swimming is also a great way to spend time with friends and family, strengthening important bonds. And of course, it builds stamina and flexibility to help keep hearts and lungs healthy, while also improving balance and posture.
On a more serious note, getting your little ones into the water early is an important safety issue. Drowning is the second-most common cause of death in children under 4, and the tragedies often occur during “non-swim” times when the area is not being supervised by an adult. Swimming classes teach them what to do if they fall in, and they’ll be able to remain calm enough to do it. So get ready to make a splash with your whole family – including the youngest members!
Your Attitude is Everything
With swimming, as with everything else, your children will look to you to see how they should act. They learn by imitating the behaviour that you model for them. Teach them that water is not to be feared, but that they do need to be careful. Show yourself as happy and having fun, and they’re sure to follow suit.
Get your kiddos used to moving their limbs in the water and getting splashed in the face, even before they’re old enough for formal swimming. Bath time works a treat for this, and is also a fun way to spend quality time with them on a typically busy weekday.
Then, experts say, get into the pool with babies from the age of six months. Younger than this and they’re likely to get too cold, and at six months they should still wear full suits to help them stay warm – as well as swim nappies to avoid any accidents. They’ll usually instinctively kick and wriggle around, so make sure to encourage them. This is how they learn that moving is what keeps them afloat.
A little later, you can join a local swimming group. These are a lot of fun and usually feature a host of different games which children love as much as adults enjoy land-based and online New Zealand Bingo. And don’t forget floats, armbands and goggles whenever you’re splashing around.
Since first-borns tend to be a little more cautious, the best age to do this with them is from about eighteen months to 2 years. Younger siblings, eager to keep up with their big brothers and sisters, tend to start earlier and can begin classes at around a year.
As soon as kids start spending time in pools, get them familiar with turning around and swimming to the edge behind them when they fall or jump in. This is much closer than the far edge, which they might not be able to reach, but since the farther edge is what they see last their natural instinct is to head there after falling.