How to Teach a Toddler to Swim
Many people assume that younger kids shouldn’t risk their safety with swimming lessons. After all, infants and toddlers don’t have the coordination or instinct needed, right? In reality, even though parents love their little ones, they underestimate them all the time! Babies naturally know to try and stay afloat in water, and they take to swimming quite quickly and efficiently. Swimming lessons for babies are quickly growing in popularity.
Toddlers are quite the same. They can pick up the basics of swimming very quickly, so long as they feel comfortable and engaged while learning. And when they do, it can result in years of benefits for your little one. They develop better fitness, more confidence, better coordination, and so on.
The key is to help your toddler feel at ease with and accustomed to being in water and moving correctly in water. And most of that can be done outside of lessons without much trouble. Here are a few ways you can help your little one learn to swim comfortably and quickly.
Unfamiliar experiences can be scary for young kids, and that includes being fully underwater. It feels completely different to having your head above water, which can make kids nervous or even frightened. To avoid them being stressed, you can help them get used to submergence little by little.
You can do this by slowly getting them used to the feeling of the water. You can pour water down their face gently using a glass, making sure they can safely learn how it feels. Once they’re comfortable with that, you can encourage them to submerge half their face in the water, up to just below their nose. Not only will they get used to the sensation, but they’ll also naturally learn to hold their breath.
Remember to always lead by example! If you want your little one to know something is safe, do it yourself. They trust you, and they’ll be much less nervous about doing something if you do it first and show them it’s harmless.
Any experienced swimmer can tell you that good technique is the difference between easy and exhausting. Your little one doesn’t need to worry about perfecting different strokes, but they can learn the proper way to move their arms and legs when in the water. Doing this helps them stay afloat with less effort, which keeps their breathing steady, which keeps them safe and relaxed while in the water.
To practice their kicking, you can have your little one in your arms in the bath and encourage them to kick with their whole legs. You can hold them under the arms with their head against your shoulder and simply let them kick (this part should be easy— kids love to kick!). They’ll naturally want to mimic walking and bend their legs at the knee, but you can gently guide and encourage them to move their legs completely.
Good breath control is key to swimming safety, especially for kids. When learning strokes later on in life, they’ll learn to integrate their breathing, but for now, it’s enough that they know to hold their breath when submerged.
You can easily practice this one out of the water by simply turning the exercise into a game with your little one. Encourage them to hold their breath by doing so yourself; make sure to exaggerate and lean into some silly and funny faces to keep things interesting! Your kid will hopefully appreciate the game and do the same.
Once they learn to hold their breath out of water, they’ll be perfectly at ease doing so while submerged, and they won’t feel anxious when in that situation.