If you’ve ever wanted to swim with your baby, don’t be afraid – it can be an amazing experience! Introducing your baby to swimming is also a great way to have fun while bonding.
You can easily get your baby ready for swimming with a few simple yet effective exercises that will help develop their swimming skills.
How to Start?
The very first step is to find a position in the swimming pool where you have a firm footing.
Next, hold your baby firmly under the armpits and slowly lower her into the water. Let her start to get a feel for the water with her hands and feet.
Keep her head above water level from the chin up but leave her hands and legs free to move about in the water. You can make it a little more interesting by singing rhymes while walking with her around the pool.
Use a small floating toy and encourage her to try “swimming” toward it; this will help her gain confidence and mobility in water.
Don’t worry if water splashes on your baby’s face as this helps her become more comfortable in water. Once you feel that she is not only comfortable, but loves the experience, you can move to the next stage.
The Humpty Dumpty Move
To start the second exercise, let your baby sit on the edge of the swimming pool while you stand inside the pool.
As you sing “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall”, bring her slowly into the pool while holding him securely. Continue keeping her head above the water from the chin up.
Now, repeat the Humpty Dumpty move, only this time, try to immerse her right up to her chin instead of keeping her entire head above the water. Repeat as many times as needed until she is used to it.
Now, gradually try immersing her nose under water (only for a short time). After several more repetitions, you can progress to immersing her up to her eyes.
Remember, babies love repetition and this exercise is a great way to build trust and bond with your baby at the same time. This exercise will help your baby become more comfortable with you and the water.
The Back Float
The final exercise is the back float, which is one of the most important exercises for anyone learning how to swim.
Start by letting your baby lie down facing the sky on the surface of the water. Make sure your child’s head is in line with your shoulders. To make it more interesting, you can sing “Twinkle, twinkle, little star” or get her to look for flying birds or an airplane in the sky.
Slowly start walking backwards in the pool while your baby is lying with their head on your shoulders. Continue to do this until you find them relaxing and enjoying the process.
Once you feel that your baby is completely relaxed, you can just hold their head to provide the minimal support.
They will, eventually, be completely ready to float and once that happens you can remove your hands from beneath their head and let them back float on their own.
Take care and do not let go unless she is completely ready. This last exercise will need lots of patience, and you may need to rely on your own instinct to know when she is completely ready.
These are the three exercises that I highly recommend to parents who are eager to teach their babies to swim.
Do not rush the process and take this as a chance to enjoy some quality time with your child while doing the three exercises. Let your child enjoy the fun of water splashing too.
Lastly, remember to prepare and bring along the necessities, e.g. swimming clothes, towels, and a change of clothing.
Bring some healthy snacks along for your baby and you because both of you may become hungry after each swimming session.
Erika is a certified AUTSWIM Water Safety and Infants Swimming Teacher and also holds an American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA) Level 2 certification with over 10 years specialised experience in teaching babies and children. She runs swim programs for babies, toddlers, kiddies and BabySelf Rescue programs at a number of locations around KL and Selangor such as Olympic Kids Club, Tropicana Golf Club and Desa Parkcity Club House to name a few. She is a mother of 2 boys aged 4 and 10 years old who love water.