Are you waiting for your swimming lessons to start? Maybe you are wondering what you can do to start to build your baby or toddler’s water confidence before they start at Turtle Tots? Here are our handy hints and tips for fun activities to do together in the bath, or when you visit your local swimming pool.
In the Bath
Most babies and toddlers love bath time. The bath is the best place to start to get little ones comfortable with the idea of having water on their head and face. This water confidence skill is essential for learning to swim. Most babies will learn to love the feeling of water on and over their head and face if it is done in a gentle and fun way. Some toddlers can be resistant to having water on their faces if they have not got used to this as babies, but with lots of patience and playfulness they will also learn this crucial skill.
- Play waterfalls or sprinkles with a watering can. Simply fill a toy watering can and sprinkle water on different parts of the body. This lovely sensory activity works well for all ages. Tiny babies will love the feeling of the warm water on their legs, arms, hands, feet, and head. Talk to your baby as you do this, naming the different parts of the body. Watch their reactions carefully to see how they respond. You can gently trickle water over the back of their head to begin with, if they are ok with this you can let some water trickle gently over the face, giving them lots of reassurance as you do so. Older babies and toddlers may like to play this game with a squirty toy that holds water, particularly if you let them squirt you with it too!
- Back floating. With younger babies you can create the experience of back floating by making the bath nice and deep so that their body can float freely in the water as you cradle their head in your hand. Tiny babies will love the extra freedom that the buoyancy of the water gives them and most will enjoy a really good kick in this position! Older babies and toddlers can be a bit more resistant to lying down on their backs in the water. You may be able to encourage this by making the bath quite shallow so they can actually lie back and have theirs ears in the water but be lying on the bottom of the bath. A bath time foam mirror is a great toy for this as you can hold it above them and get them to look up and see themselves reflected.
- Kicking and splashing. Singing songs to encourage babies to move their arms and legs in the water all help to build early swimming movements. Try singing “If you’re happy and you know it kick your legs, splash your hands” and be prepared to get a bit wet!
- Joint bath time. Babies and toddlers will love having a bath together with mum or dad. The skin to skin contact helps to soothe and relax them, and you too! Bathing together is a lovely bonding experience and can help to soothe crying in the evenings when little ones are feeling tired and cranky.
At the Pool
If you can, take your baby or toddler along to your local swimming pool. So that the environment starts to become familiar to them. On your very first visit you may want to keep it short, as the new environment along with all the new sights, sounds and smells can be a very stimulating experience. Usually 20 minutes in the water is enough.
- Enter the water slowly and gently, giving your little one lots of reassurance.
- Immerse yourselves in the water holding your baby or toddler facing you. Make sure you are down at the same level as them so you can see their face clearly and how they are responding to this new environment. Gentle, rhythmical movements will help little ones to relax so keep your movements slow and steady.
- Let your baby or toddler watch you blow bubbles and dip your face in the water. They will be fascinated to watch you and may even try to copy!
- Sing songs and chat to your baby or toddler to help them to relax. Notice what they are interested in looking at and share / mirror their interest. There is so much to see at the swimming pool!
Rest assured it won’t be long until we will be welcoming you into your first lesson!