Another wonderful guest blog post here. Now my two are like little fish, they absolutely love the water. I’d go so far as to say swimming is their favourite activity and I cannot wait to take them on holiday this year so they can play in the pool as long as they like. I have taken them to swimming lesson since they were 10 weeks old. It is the ONE class I recommend. If I could only have done one baby class that would have been it. As much as it’s a faff getting changed and Ewan would scream the second we got out the pool as a baby, the benefits for both them and me have been astounding. But swimming lessons can be expensive or perhaps you might have a fear of water yourself. So what can we do at home to help our little ones build water confidence?
Sarah Quirico works as a swimming teacher for a company called Water Babies who provide baby and toddler swimming lessons. She is Mummy to the gorgeous duo below, Charlie (5) and Megan (3) and is dishing out some brilliant little tips in this blog post for getting your little people splash happy at home in an easy, fun way.
Bath Time, Fun Time…
Bath time can often be something we take for granted, and even become a daily chore with children. At worst, that ‘witching hour’ is a time you even come to dread when everyone is getting tired and cranky at the end of the day.
But I’m sure most of you will agree that building water confidence is so important with young children. Being happy and confident around water and being able to swim is a skill for life – one that opens up so many opportunities for family fun in the future, as well as one that can save a life.
But the benefits of swimming at a young age don’t stop there. Pre-school swimming lessons have been proven to boost their confidence and stimulate their brains, putting them months ahead in speech and numeracy. It’s a great way of introducing them to an active lifestyle and allows them to work some muscles long before they can on dry land, making them stronger and more coordinated, often walking earlier than others.
The best news is that there’s nothing stopping you from starting your little one on a journey of water confidence at any time – right here in your bath tub at home! Fun bath times and water play at home can start the building blocks of water confidence in little ones, making it so much easier to transfer to the swimming pool and swimming lessons when you’re ready.
Why not try some of these quick and easy bath time games to get you started?
Word Association – This is a great way to build their confidence in the water and something we do from day 1 in swimming lessons. Swimming under the water is very natural for little ones and we are born with lots of natural reflexes that stop us from breathing and help us move under the water. However, we always ask little ones if they want to first. Start by saying their name, are you ready?, go before taking a handful of water and gently pouring it over their face. For older children they can quickly start to do it themselves or put their face in and blow their bubbles as an alternative. Once they know what to expect, use it every time you wash their hair, and I can assure you it will help make it a tear-free activity!
Bubble Song – Encouraging children to blow bubbles in the water is a great starting point for water confidence and swimming activities. Being able to breathe out under the water is intrinsic to swimming strokes, and put more simply – if they are blowing out in the water, they are less like to swallow it or cough on it! Make it fun and creative by getting them to blow a nursery rhyme with bubbles and you try to guess what it is! Babies cannot physically blow bubbles themselves until around 12 months but may find it very amusing watching and trying to copy you before then, so it’s never too early to start bubble fun.
Bubble Kitchen – Don’t throw away empty shampoo and bubble bath bottles – turn them into a pouring station. Add sponges and flannels and get them to make bubble pies and cakes and do the washing up. Think of it like a mud kitchen but with a lot less mess!
Number and Sorting Fun – We can learn numbers, counting and sorting skills absolutely anywhere – including the bath or swimming pool! Try counting bath toys out and away. Picking a number of toys and counting them out of the toy box and into the bath is a great way of learning, whilst also ensuring they don’t all get tipped in at once! Talk about the different toys and how they react in the bath. Do they sink or float? Why is that? Add a couple of Tupperware containers to the bath and ask your child to sort the toys that sink and float – it will help them start to understand buoyancy in the water too. When you’ve counted the toys away, always ask how many are left in the bath – remember zero is a number too!
Not every child instantly loves the water and I’m pretty sure even the happiest toddler will at some point refuse the bath, so here are some ideas to help get you through those moments…
Being in water, especially at the swimming pool, can sometimes be a sensory overload. Some children are just more sensitive to their surroundings than others. Try increasing the temperature (although not more than 36 degrees for a newborn and 38 degrees for a toddler) or adding clothes! Often in the pool adding a wet suit or rash vest can help to limit the onslaught of sensory activity, helping calm little ones when they are first learning to love the water.
Put your toddler in control at bath time! My two like to choose whether they have bubbles, lots of toys or ‘a swimming pool’ if we have time for a deep bath. It generally works to get them in… as long as they agree!
Remember to use word association and gradually build their water confidence by always asking them before getting water in their faces. If they are really uncertain, let them see you happily putting your face in the bath or shower, always coming out with a big smile of course. Add lots of praise and lots of patience and you’ll soon end up with a splashy, happy, water confident family!
Water Babies are the UK’s leading provider of pre-school swimming lessons, from birth to 5 years, in warm water pools across the UK. This blog post is NOT sponsored or an advert or paid in any way.