With drowning being the No. 1 injury-related cause of death in young children, teaching your little one to swim is so important.
Make a splash with baby
Why not take the opportunity this summer to get a jump start on your baby's water safety education? SheKnows Parenting sought these expert tips to help make swim time fun — and safe — for Baby.
According to Lana Whitehead, founder of SWIMkids USA, you should introduce your baby to safe/fun water play in the bathtub as early as 3 or 4 months. She says, “The bathtub is a perfect place for the little one to begin developing a healthy relationship with this liquid medium. In his early training, the infant will experience a great deal of tactile stimulation from water resistance over his entire body.”
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She adds that introducing your child to water at an early age is best because “a child under age 1 is less influenced by negative attitudes about the water. If parents start their child in lessons later, it can be harder to get the child comfortable on his back in the water. It often takes longer for the child to get used to the teacher, the water, the distractions at the pool and submersion.” The less afraid children are of the water, the more fun swim time will be… for everyone!
Give the gift of goggles
Keeping their eyes closed may be frightening for babies and toddlers who can put their heads under water. Put an end to that fear — and add an element of fun — with a well-fitting pair of goggles, suggests Nicole Fonovich co-creator and author with her husband Damir of “Luca Lashes has his First Swimming Lesson,” part of the Luca Lashes series of ebooks and apps to help kids tackle their fear of firsts. Nicole says wearing goggles “makes under-water exploration more fun and helps protect young eyes from chlorine."
Make swim time short and comfortable
Donna Eshelman, M.A., G.C.F.P., runs StellarCaterpillar, a company designed to teach parents how to help their babies learn skilled movements such as swimming. She says, “I teach parents three important tips for fun swim time: the water must be warm enough (at least 90 degrees like bath water), there should be plenty of toys and they need to rest often.”
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Toys, toys and more toys
Nearly every expert we consulted noted the importance of incorporating toys to make swim time exciting for Baby.
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Lana says that toys can be incorporated into teaching important swim skills, such as blowing small balls across the surface of the pool to help kids learn to blow bubbles in the water. She also recommends making toys an incentive to help with learning the skills in each lesson.
She says, “Create a visual scheduler of all the skills in a lesson, then move a toy from skill to skill during the lesson. Children can earn poker chips by doing skills correctly in order to 'buy' a toy during play time at the end of a lesson. ”
Go, Baby, go!
Encouraging and recognizing Baby’s achievements — no matter how small — make a big difference in how Baby feels about his swim lessons. Lana says, “Make a big deal when a child learns a new deal and moves up to the next level.”
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Photo credit (first and last photos): SWIMkids USA