First Steps for Teaching Your Baby Water Survival Skills
Swimming is an enjoyable recreational activity, but enjoyment isn’t the only reason why your child needs to be safe around water. Children are attracted to water, whether it’s the sparkling water of a swimming pool, the flowing water of a stream, or the excitement of the waves at the beach. As parents it is your responsibility to ensure your children are safe. You never know when being able to swim will save your child’s life. It is never too young to introduce your baby to the water and introduce water survival skills.
Introduce Your Baby to Water
A baby can be introduced to the water in a safe, natural way. The longer you leave the acquisition of water skills, the more difficult it is to learn to swim. Most babies love bath-time, so progressing to a larger pool of water in the safety of your arms is a natural progression. With you supporting them they come to love the water and learn to respect it.
Start by playing lots of splashing games in the bath. This enables them to be become used to water in their face as part of playing. Choose a quiet time at your local pool, or a home pool, to make the transition. This is best done at a time you feel comfortable, otherwise baby will sense your fear.
Slip into the pool yourself, and then have another adult hand baby to you. Crouch down, so that your shoulders and those of baby are in the water. For the first session, treat it as another bath session. Hold baby close to you and play splashing games just as you would in the bath. Walk around a little, swishing water and generally having fun. The first session shouldn’t be too long. You’ll be the best judge as to both you and your baby’s confidence and how quickly you can progress over future sessions.
Teach your baby how to blow bubbles and get them used to the water up around their face and ears. Baby is perfectly safe and will feel relaxed playing with you if this is introduced gradually. Choose a moment when you’re both relaxed and having fun and quickly immerse baby’s head just below the water and out again in the same instance. You’ll probably be surprised at the laughter once baby gets over the surprise. Don’t rush this stage. Keep treating it as a game.
Back Floating Position
The best way to introduce floating is to turn baby over onto its back. Holding carefully with one hand, place the other hand under the back as support and move baby away from you gently. Encourage them to kick their legs and splash their arms in a similar way to the games you’ve been playing. Continue quick gentle face and head immersions during these sessions so that it all becomes natural and fun. Be your own judge as to when you feel confident to momentarily remove your hand support.
Once the back floating position is established you can teach your baby not to panic. Make a game of placing baby face down in a front floating position, and then quickly roll him or her over onto its back. Knowing how to roll over into a back floating position could well be enough to save your child’s life.
Establish the Foundation for Water Safety
How long the above process takes depends very much on you and your baby’s confidence. This should be an ongoing experience, developed together over months or years until your child is physically ready to learn to swim.
Imagine the pleasure you can share while forming a bond in the water, at the same time knowing you are teaching your child valuable water safety skills. These first steps will establish the foundation for many pleasurable experiences in the years ahead.
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