First of all let me clearly outline that these tips are for teaching a baby to swim, BEFORE they can even comprehend direction such as, “this is how you blow bubbles’ or, “hold your breath and kick” and .. etc.
This is how we taught our baby to swim even before she could talk, or even take direction/instruction.
The key is getting your baby comfortable with water. Here’s our post on how we started Luca swimming or getting accustomed with pool water, at 4 months of age.
Some website tell you how infants instinctively know how to swim. This is WRONG. If you drop your infant in water, she will sink. So please don’t do this.
The idea is more like – repeating a movement in water (always with support, ie. you the parent is close at hand), till your baby is comfortable with it. Practice makes perfect with everything, and swimming is no different.
So, with Luca, every week, twice a week (min), we would :
- Sit her on the side of the pool, and easy her into the water, always holding on to her. As she got stronger, we would loosen the grip with partial immersion of face, until she was strong enough to jump in by herself, but we would aid her in coming up to the surface, encouraging her to kick her way up. Initially, they don’t know which way is up, and might buck a bit but they eventually figure it out.
- Practice floating – on the back, on the front. Practice passing the baby from parent to parent under water, gradually increasing the distance. Read your baby’s cues – introduce steps gradually and don’t continue if your baby isn’t enjoying herself!
- Immersion – this one is key and initially it’s a bit scary but trust your baby and her instincts. Count to 3, maintaining eye contact, blow in baby’s face( they automatically hold their breath) and then go under together, ON 3. When our baby was young it was a mere second of a dip. We progressed to 3 seconds. Under water always keep your eye on the baby, at the same eye level so they can see you and they don’t panic. You will notice that they instinctively hold their breath. Nature is amazing that way!
4. Finally, as with everything else, it’s all about letting go. Our baby loves jumping into the pool. So instead of catching her immediately, once we were confident of her progression and confidence in water, we let her either find her own way up to the surface, or find her way by swimming under water to us. A mere second at a time. So the parent should stand close to the side of the pool, and slowly increasing the gap between the child and the parent. Initially she was startled by her weight in water, but she soon learned to kick across to us. Right now, she can hold her breath 5-10 seconds at a time!
Luca has come a long way. Water baby she is indeed. This clip is of her latest progress. She even startled me and my hubby, when she decided to u-turn in the water without a break. What a champ eh?
Hopefully these tips will help you bring out the water baby in your infant too! 🙂
Disclaimer : These techniques worked for our baby, and her outgoing disposition. It might not work for all babies. We advice you exercise caution in these techniques are they are mainly our personal experience and we do not recommend everyone use them blindly. This progress you see was over more than a YEAR of baby steps increasing in difficulty and time spent in the water. So unless you have a ton of patience and time, and a motivated baby, don’t go for it.