From Tummy to Tots: A Child’s First Independent Swim!
Welcome to the last in our three-month mini-series taking you on a journey exploring the fantastic benefits of the water. We’ve taken you from pregnancy, through to toddlers taking their first independent swims.
Following on from last month’s blog on babies first experiences in water – which you can read on our website - our National Aquatics Training Lead, Lynn Goring-Crook, finishes this series by looking at how to support your toddler in making their first independent swims.
Your toddler has been having so much fun in the pool; dipping and diving, splashing and swimming with a noodle or back float. You might feel that now is a good time to try and encourage your little one to try and swim without any assistance.
How best to go about this can be a daunting prospect for any parent, so why not try some of these tips:
1. You are the best target! Parents or caregivers are often the best targets for toddlers attempting to make their first independent swims. Position yourself just a metre or less from your child holding onto the wall and encourage them to push and glide or kick and paddle to you. Extend the distance when they are ready but take your time – building confidence is key!
2. Use the steps! Many pools have steps or a ramp where the water gets gradually deeper. These are great areas to explore, and children can lay on their tummy, kick their legs and pick up objects submerged just under the water. They can also blow bubbles whilst being able to still place hands on the floor.
3. Keep practicing on front and back! Don’t forget to encourage swimming on the back as well as the front - including rolling from one to the other. This builds confidence, strength, and means they’re more equipped to swim independently.
4. Aquatic Games! Collecting toys or a treasure hunt are a great way to encourage independent swims. When lost in the fun of aquatic games, little ones can become confident to give those ‘firsts’ a try!
5. Jumping in! Have your tot jumping from the side into your arms and, as they progress, they will build confidence to jump into the water. Encourage them to turn around and hold on to the side or the ‘safe place’ of the wall. As the skill builds, those distances will increase and those independent swims will build as they jump, turn and swim back to the side.
And there you have it! During this ‘from tummy to tots’ series, we have explored many ways to enjoy water with our bundles of joy.