So Luca is a true water baby.
She has been swimming since she was 4 months old.. aided of course, but without any floats.
Here’s how we used her infant swim instinct to get her used to the water :
You want to start by holding your baby on your chest, head above the shoulder and then start walking backward so the baby gets the sensation of motion. After a while you can release the baby a little, so the feet dangle in the water. You will notice the baby starting to kick on her own, once she is comfortable in the water.
2. Swimming on their front
Start with the baby in front of you (not to the side) with one hand under the baby’s trunk, the other you can let her suck on your palm. This we found has a calming effect on the baby. Lead baby with your arm around the pool. After a minute you will notice them floating by themselves and hardly needing to be supported by the trunk. The water will naturally carry their weight.
3. Turning Over and Floating
Turn baby on their back slowly. Make sure the head is slightly submerged (usually chin in water), and the body is fully in the water. Let your weaker hand support the head and use your dominant hand to touch them and reassure them. The baby will squirm and fuss but stay in that position until the baby gets comfortable. This will help the baby realize that they can float on their own and will not sink.
This is the most important step in teaching your baby how to swim. Place your dominant hand on the baby’s back and support the neck if they have no neck control as yet. Keep her upright and close to your chest. Spin with her slowly and dip a little (only till neck) but not all the way in. Count to three (or countdown from three) and then blow on baby’s face and quickly dip their face in the water. You must blow on their face continuously until the face is completely underwater. When you are finished bring the baby back up to your chest and relax before trying again. You will notice that the baby naturally holds her breath under water.
At 4 months, our girl likes to stick out her tongue as she holds her breath underwater. But sometimes, if the baby gulps in some water, do not freak out. It’s inevitable and bound to happen. Most importantly, be calm. The baby will pick up on your level of confidence so do not panic.
Once they master this, you can practice passing your baby, from partner to partner under water. This should take no more than 2-3 seconds, which means a quick lateral movement under water (but close to the surface), across your chest, from one person to the next person. A gentle resurfacing and a hug will ensure baby all is well, before trying again.
5. Jumping into the pool
For older babies ie. 6 months and above with good neck control, you can sit the baby on the edge of the pool and gently pull them in. Next stand them up and help them jump into the pool. This will set the foundation for diving into the pool next time when they are older. If she is accustomed to going underwater, let her jump in and go under and then pull her up to the surface or let her kick and swim up to the surface.