Help Your Little One Love to Swim!

By: Bridget Hobbs, PT, DPT

Summer months are just around the corner which means neighborhood pools and splash pads are opening.  Toddlers are so curious about the water but are often a bit scared to take the plunge and go in the pool.  Here are some fun and easy ways to get your child to learn to love the water. 

1)      Treasure Hunt: When children can sit up by themselves (about 6 months old), sit by them in the kiddie pool or a blow up pool in the backyard.  Place fun things at the bottom of the pool, such as plastic fish, rings or some of their favorite bath toys.  Pools with a zero-depth entry where you can walk in on a gradual decline are excellent for making a trail of toys into the water for your little one to follow. 

2)      Peek-A-Boo!: Once your little one is in the water, putting their face in can often be a scary thing. Playing Simon Says or Peek-A-Boo can be a fun way to break the ice.  Kids love to mimic their parents, so placing your face in the water covering your face, then lifting your face out of the water making a funny face at your child can be a hit.  Practicing blowing bubbles through a partially submerged straw is also fun for kiddos. 

3)      Getting comfortable on their back:  Floating on their backs is one of the first things that kids learn in swim lessons.   While you are supporting them under their mid back, asking kids to describe shapes of the clouds, sing songs and even looking for airplanes are ways to help children ease into this skill.  Practicing back float in the bathtub is also a good way to practice this life-saving skill.

12_Jack Pribaz.jpg_water
Photo Credit: Kristi Hughes

4)      Fun with Noodles: If your pool allows noodles, having your children straddle the noodle while supporting them at their waist can be not only fun for your kiddo but also a great way to strengthen their core and leg muscles.  Have your child hold onto the noodle with two hands in front of them and pretend that they are riding a horse or biking to their favorite toy store or ice cream shop. 

5)      Listen to Your Child:
If your child cries during swim lessons or has tantrums when you are trying to get them into the pool, do not force them to go in the water as this can make it worse.  They may need a few sessions of watching other kids from the deck on the side of the pool to realize that swimming is not a scary thing.  Make sure to pick a time where your child is not tired or hungry.   Let them pick out a swimsuit at the store and fun pool toys so they feel like they have some control over this new experience. 

Swimming is one of the only sports that people can enjoy for their entire life-span.   It can also be life-saving and build confidence in your little one.  So, make sure to be positive and motivating with your little one in the water and help them learn to love to swim.

Scott_Lauren.jpg_water
Photo Credit: Joann Hartley

 

To learn more about Aquatic Therapy and other
Community Based Therapy Programs at
Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley, click here.

Cover photo by Chris Pestel

 

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