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How to teach toddler to swim

May 10,2017 12:52 PM
How to teach toddler to swim

Swimming is now recommended for children as early as age 1. Every child must get ample time in water from beginning. As water helps in sensory development and also brings a lot of physical activity with soothing sensations. How to teach your toddler to swim is compiled to help you proceed step by step and keep your little one’s safety intact. As swimming at this age must be carefully planned and securely executed. Toddlers have a natural gift of being able to float quickly with little practice. Early swim lessons and proper instruction can help overcome the fear of water and prevent drowning.

[Read: Right age for swim lessons]

More emphasis must be given to enjoyment and fun as toddlers still don’t have the motor skills needed for being able to swim. The more they play water games, the easier it is to swim for them. Formal swim lessons are important but prior to that we as parents can do ample things to make swimming easier and fun. Everything thats aquatic can be made a part of their summer routine. Begin with water play first.

[Read: Keeping kids active during summer]

How to teach toddler to swim under the below steps:

1- Begin water play:

Begin water play

Choose a shallow water space where the toddler can sit upright with head outside water. Then begin with simple water splashing activities. Make bubbles and hear them can be introduced too. Just ask them to keep their head down with nose, ears and lips in water. Make bubbles and try to put face until their ears in water and listen the sounds too. This will help them in getting breathing skills. Make this more enjoyable by asking them to make sounds like a truck, frog and fish. They will learn the most important breathing skills by increasing and decreasing the breathing force. This will also increase their comfort levels despite sucking some water

2- Pool toys like ring and others:

Pool toys like ring and others

Now begin introducing pool toys, and make them first throw these in pool and then go inside to find them. Add more fun with playing music or singing songs while they collect as many such toys from the pool as they can. This will help them use their arms more like swim actions. They will use both breathing skills and buoyancy. This develops a fast and strong arm motion. Also ask them to keep their fingers together, which helps in propulsion when they start swimming on their own later.

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3- Use floatation toys like pool noodle, float and some arm floats:

Use floatation toys

Now is the time to teach floatation so that the child learns how to balance position to stay floating in water. Ask your toddler to hold your one hand and then facing up in water, start loosening your feet such that it begins to float. Keep your head straight, and if the ear or hair doesn’t feel comfortable being wet, put ear plugs and head wraps. Then proceed with first you holding the child, then ask them to hold the floatation devices like noodle and float. In addition make your toddler to stretch out his arms and legs.

4- Preparing to learn kicks:

Preparing to learn kicks

Now sit at the shallow steps in the pool and teach the child how to kick. In addition you may also ask them to speed up, slow down and maintain constant. This will help them learn propulsion. Then proceed with float position and make them kick and move around in water facing up. In addition you may also hold or put noodle balance below their arms to stay upright and keep floating

5- Take the plunge:

Take the plunge

Now near the pool end, keep your child facing down and either hold or ask the toddler to hold the poles. Stay 2 meter away from the toddler and ask him to push the wall of the pool and come towards you. Keeping up with breathing and head straight in water. Also you may start by holding the toddler first and taking him for the first few propulsions. This gives a basic idea of swimming to the child. Hold to the pole and keep the body submerged in water, this will help the child learn basics of floating and breathing.

6- Jumping in water:

Jumping in water

Ask your toddler to jump in water from the pool sides. You stay in the pool to hold them when they dive in. This will help in overcoming the fear from water and also practice the skills of breathing and floatation. Start with sitting position and move to standing jump.

7- Tread in water:

Tread in water

Now begin with treading in water. Hold your little one and ask him to move the hands like paddles and kick legs up and down to keep himself floating and swimming in water. Hold onto him until he is ready and doing it on his own. Keep cheering him to gain independence and learn to propel on his own.

Water safety tips for toddlers:

Water safety tips for toddlers

1- Always use a sunblock to prevent damage from chlorinated water
2- Wear proper swim wear in water
3- Cover the eyes with swim goggles.
4- Use head wrap and ear plugs for preventing discomfort
5- Begin with shallow water of less then 2 feet.
6- Select indoor pool if possible, to prevent harmful UV rays of sun
7- Do not force of push your toddler in water, as once they get afraid they would not be able to find comfort for long.
8- Do not let your toddler go alone near the pool and always be careful about life vest and swim gears

toddler swimming

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The above compilation on How to teach toddler to swim is based of experiences and learnings over time. There have been some most wonderful cases where toddlers learnt to swim at less than 2 years of age. So theres no right age to begin swimming lessons. Be sure to keep the child hydrated and never push or force them to do anything they don’t wish to.

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By Minu Manisha

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