Babies can be taught to swim. I have experience teaching babies, children, and folks of all ages. I’ve had 3-month-old babies happily swim under water. Here are some techniques to get your little one swimming:
First, help your child adjust to cold water. Hold your baby snugly against you and whirl in both directions. Make a joyful noise and share the little one’s delight.
Spitting is the most important survival skill. High spits, low spits, spray spits, and drool spits are all demonstrated. Any effort that expels water gets praise. Hold your baby so the water level is over her chin. You can then let the water come up to the bottom of her lip and gently splash her lips. If a wave hits him, he will know what to do.
Blowing bubbles is next. Once baby is blowing bubbles, it is easy to get her to go underwater. The child can also be taught rhythmic breathing.
A “kick necklace” develops skills and confidence. Stand in shoulder deep water and wrap the baby’s arms around your neck, with the baby’s back to the sky. Gently and firmly hold your baby’s knees to keep her legs straight. Move her legs in a kicking motion while saying “Kick Kick KicK!” Walk backwards to give the illusion that she is propelling herself. Teach her to splash you with flat hands with all fingers touching. These are “swimmer’s hands.”
You can put your baby’s head on your shoulder, hands under her arms, and walk backwards with a gentle swirling motion. It’s very relaxing for the baby. Soon she will be floating on her back. The child’s head rests on your shoulder with the chin pointed up. Tilt her head back to keep her nose out of the water. I use copious praise when I teach infants and children.
You want your baby to be able to hold on to and climb out of a pool. Position your arms underneath her arms with your hands on the pool ledge so she doesn’t bump her chin. Older babies can move sideways on the pool wall, with sliding hand movements. Now teach her to climb out of the pool. Do not lift the baby by her bottom to help her climb out; have her use your bent leg as a step, lowering your leg with each attempt. Solid survival skills are built on small successes.
We are blessed with a warm ocean and cool waterfall pools. You can enhance your children’s enjoyment and your own peace of mind with these skills.
Image Credit: Sylvie Berg