In today’s blog Frugi Crusader Helen shares her thoughts on swimming with the little ones…
As a qualified swimming teacher I am often asked by friends about how/when to take babies/toddlers swimming and what to do when there. My advice is – it’s never too soon! You don’t have to wait ‘til after your child has had their firsts jabs these days, my twins went first aged 5 weeks – and let me let you into a little secret – small babies sleep for AGGGGEEEES after a swimming session!
When you first get into the pool hold your baby close, with their shoulders under the water,as they get more confident you can hold them slightly further away, facing you, with your hands under their armpits so you can look into their eyes. Move them around through the water smiling and encouraging them. The bonus of starting young is that your child will be less daunted and know no fear, the water around them will remind them of the womb. Older toddlers going for the first time may be more scared. If this is the case try and go regularly so it becomes normal to them. Practice water play in the bath and you can bring a few bath toys into the pool as a great distraction from fear – chasing a toy around in the water will encourage your baby to kick and reach out with their hands. If you feel your toddler needs extra support in the water I would recommend a float you wear attached to your back rather than arm bands for about 2 and above, it gives your child more of a feel for the correct position they should be in in the water.
Once in the water with your baby try bobbing up and down with them, blowing bubbles to see if they will imitate you, singing nursery rhymes (Humpty dumpty ‘falling’ off the side of the pool back into the water as you hold baby sitting on the side and then bring them down with a bit of a splash is a good one) try and get your child used to water over their head and faces. Young babies float well with a little support, however babies that are sitting up may not like this quite so much! If you want to try underwater immersion then i suggest you ask a qualified baby swimming teacher to show you the best way. There are plenty of classes at local pools for small children/babies and for babies that can’t yet walk especially, its a great form of exercise.
Swimming has many benefits for children and it’s never too young to start!