Teaching your little one how to swim isn’t just a fun summer activity and memorable bonding experience for the two of you; it is actually a crucial life skill that could save their life. While there are plenty of classes available enroll in, even infants to start learning how to kick and hold their breath, The American Association of Pediatrics suggests holding off any lessons until your child’s fourth birthday, when they are developmentally old enough to learn and properly execute the necessary skills to stay afloat.
While it isn’t possible to drown-proof your child, you can begin to equip them with a familiarity and safety knowledge of the water to help prevent any tragic accidents. Introducing your toddler to the water at a young age under constant supervision is an excellent way to lay the foundations of a lifelong love of swimming.
The absolute first thing any parent should keep in mind when preparing to teach their toddler the basics of swimming is safety. Never, under any condition, should you leave your child unattended around or in the pool. Even if they can stand in the water in the kiddy pool, don’t turn your back and leave them to their own devices. It only takes a split second for them to trip and suck in a breath. An infant can drown in an inch of water in under 30 seconds, so you can never be too safe.
Do not submerge any child under 3, or force them beneath if they are afraid.Water intoxication can cause sleepiness, nausea, seizures and in rare cases, death.
Ensure if you own a pool, it is fenced and locked at all times and inaccessible by the toddler. Keep a phone, First-Aid kit, towels, inflatable ring, and any other essentials nearby.
2-3 Years Old
At this stage, you want to introduce your child to the water. Although they may be active and exhibit strong interest, never allow them into the pool by themselves. Hold them at all times, but play fun games that require them to move their arms (such as reaching for a ball), kicking their legs and floating supported on their stomach or back.
Teaching them how to blow bubbles is a great way to helping them get used to having their face wet and teaching them not to swallow water. While a safety jacket is fine, make sure you don’t leave your child alone, and don’t trust inflatable wings, rings or anything that can deflate and leave them stranded.
Remove all pool toys post-swimming, so your child isn’t tempted to reach for them and accidentally fall in.
4 years and up
At this stage, your toddler is ready to begin formal swimming lessons and learning proper swim techniques. Some you can try with them are:
– Helping them get into a floating position and teaching them to remain that way for 5 to 10 seconds unassisted.
– Learn to glide through the water with kicking and arm movements.
– Go from standing to swimming position without any help.
Try playing pool games in which you interact with them, whether it’s tossing a ball back and forth in the water, or kicking back from the wall into a floating position.
Never force your child to do anything they feel uncomfortable with, and take advantage of any swimming classes you can find as the guidance of a certified instructor is invaluable and can help your little one learn not just how to swim, but water safety and socialization skills as well.