5 Tips for baby water confidence.
Being in the water can be a strange experience for a baby, the whole feeling of the water, the smells, the weird echoic sounds of the pool and the people.
start off small as the experience can be overwhelming to begin with. And if your child is petrified, dont force them as it wil cement their fears.
1: BE RELAXED:
Ensure the first experience of water is relaxed. A baby will pick up on your own stress and tension in the water so it’s important to show that you are happy and that any experience that your baby encounters is reinforced with your smiles and praise. This is the first step to building confidence; making positive associations with the experience. Start small, playing with toys on the top step on the warm baby pool.
your child doesnt have to make a break through every session, (jumping in, splashing legs etc) Simply being in and around the pool environment will improve their confidence
2: LEARN TO MOVE:
The baby will have certain movements which are instinctive when it is in the water, like a kicking reflex which is similar to our breaststroke kick. This can be reinforced by praise and showing him/her that the reflex leads to movement.
Try different ways of holding your child in the water such as lying on their back and move them through the water so they can feel the sensation of the water gliding past them.
Glide them towards you on their front, maybe snaking through the water, hold them under their arms and support their head with your thumbs.
stay in the water down low, at eye level with them, it will be easier to hold them and they will be able to see your face better for reassurance.
3: FLOATATION AIDS:
Rubber rings and arms bands are useful for developing water confidence but they don’t help the infant learn about moving in the water naturally as they put the child in an upright position where they can’t feel their own buoyancy, children can also become dependant on them.
Hold your child gently in the water under their arms so the water takes the babies weight and the child will feel that weightlessness. This experience gives the him/her the chance to understand water and is often when the kick reflex appears. Re-inforce this learning with positive sounds and smiles to increase your child’s confidence with being buoyant.
4: PLAY TIME:
Learning ways of moving in the water through games, toys and song will help your child associate the water with fun, games and happiness.
Also let your baby splash and play with his bath toys – throw one a few feet away and zoom him through the water to retrieve it.
Put your mouth under water and show your baby how to blow bubbles – this is important for him/her to learn, as they can’t inhale when they’re blowing.
Try taking your child swimming 1 – 2 times a week for 30 mins if they are young this repetition will help develop your babies understanding of the water, develop their confidence and help with bonding. Try to advance each week, let your child become confident with getting water on their face by starting with gentle splashes on the body and then try tickling water on to the face from your fingers.
Babies can visit the pool at any age but most parents prefer that they have had their inoculations first:
very young babies find it hard to regulate their body temperature like adults can, and so shorter swims are preferable.
Stay with your child when walking to and from the pool, ensure they walk. If a child slips as well as hurting themselves they might develop a negative association with the pool environment and ruin their confidence.
For your childs first swim remember to bring:
a warm bottle for after the swim
a towel with a hood or towelling dressing gown
a snack – swimming makes babies hungry
waterproof nappies – we sell them for £1.00