Swimming Activities for Baby
Ways You Can Support Your Baby to Learn to Swim
Swimming is a fun and healthy activity offering many benefits that support your child’s physical, emotional, and mental development. Following are some simple ideas and activities to integrate into your daily routines to make the process easier.
An early introduction to water play can help your child comfortably learn to swim before he develops fear of the water. It is easier to start before 8 months, because babies feel comfortable and natural moving in the water.
Your child can learn with frequent and regular relaxed experiences in the water, and through a secure and trusting relationship with his caretaker. You can help prepare him by being flexible and patient while he practices.
- Be calm. A child’s emotional state is dependent on the approach and the environment for learning to swim. Relax and speak in a steady voice, even if you feel uneasy yourself in the water.
- Make it fun. Help prepare your child mentally through a positive, relaxed feeling of play. Go slowly, do not pressure or encourage competition, comparison, or performance. Make a game and reinforce positively.
- Choose the right time. Encourage water play when your child is rested (not nap time), soon after eating (not meal time) and feeling well (not sick).
- Be present and be safe. Keep a constant eye on your child and hold him securely with consistency and steadiness for support until he is confident to venture out on his own. Build trust with your child by giving him eye contact, explain clearly what you are doing, being honest without trickery or deception.
- Listen to your child and use 2-way communication; support him to lead the way with what he likes and develop at his own rate through active, rather than passive movement.
Practice at Home:
The deep water of a pool can be intimidating in the beginning, so practicing simple water play at home can be an easy and enjoyable way to begin. You can start in the tub without soap to get comfortable and enjoy the sense of weightlessness in water.
- Taking a shower together helps your child become familiar with splashing water on his face and head.
- Blowing bubbles in the water helps to gain breath control, and prepares your child for underwater swimming.
- Floating on his back with your firm support can help teach your baby trust and self-assurance.
- Kicking helps your baby learn the cause and effect of motion in water.
In the Pool:
Your baby is typically safe to begin swimming in public pools when he reaches six weeks of age. Find a pool with warm water that is chlorine-free, if possible. Most swim schools keep the pool temperature for baby swim classes at 93° Fahrenheit.
- Embrace the familiar. Practice with parents, caretakers, grandparents, or someone your child knows and is comfortable with. Having 2 adults helps your child feel secure and you can share and help each other.
- Start slowly & securely. Going into a large pool may evoke feelings of fear or uncertainty, so start a swim lesson by cuddling your child close as you walk down the steps. As you enter the water, lower your body into the water keeping your head on the same level as your child’s, holding him securely.
- Singing a calming song helps ease anxiety. You can integrate movement along with the song, eventually adding brief submersion. Nursing or offering a bottle in the water can also help him relax and feel comfortable in the water.
- Be patient. When you feel that your child is comfortable being in the pool, you can gradually introduce the activities that you practiced at home, such as kicking, floating, and blowing bubbles.
- Play games. You can use simple games and fun activities with floating water toys to encourage and motivate swimming on the surface of the water and colorful sinking objects to encourage confidence in underwater swimming.
Getting your baby together with other babies and their parents for formal swim classes offers the opportunity to learn swimming in a stimulating environment. Regular practice is the key to build confidence and skills for swimming.
- Swim diapers –Bring extras!
- Rashguard shirt
- Hooded towel
- Water toys
- Changing pad
- Sun Hat
- Swim Shoes
- Snack for after swimming