If mermaids were real then my son would be Aquaman. He loves bath-time, shower-time, trips to the pool, and a day at the beach. If there’s water involved, Boy Wonder will play until his fingers are nice and pruny. Being part fish runs in the family though. IncrediMom and I are both swimmers from way back. My first job was Lifeguard and Swim Instructor at my local YMCA. That or your community pool is a great resource to get all the professional advice you might need on swim safety.
From experience, we knew we wanted to get boy wonder into the water a.s.a.p. because water safety is one of the best skills we can teach our little sidekicks. We had boy wonder in the tub from three months old and in the pool by the time he was six or seven months old. Here is what worked for us;
Step one is getting your sidekick comfortable under water. Remember, only the kid is allowed to show how nervous they are at this point. As the senior ranking superhero here, your job is to make the whole thing fun, comfortable, and entertaining. A trick that I’ve used is to count (1, 2, 3 . . .) and blow into Boy Wonder’s face. He naturally holds his breath. Then I quickly dunk him, bring him back up, laugh and tell him what a good job he did. It didn’t take long at all before I got them comfortable going under.
We haven’t tried it yet but I can’t wait until he’s skilled enough to race me to IncrediMom underwater. Then I’ll show him how much mommy loves getting splashed!
This is the most essential skill for kids of all ages to learn. If they know how to float, they know how to save their own life in a water emergency.
We started from his first bath, laying Boy Wonder on his back while I supported the back of his head and his lower back with my hands. After a few days, he was stretching out and relaxing in this position. A few weeks went by and he was pushing off the side of the tub! At a year old, he is so comfortable that he lays back by himself and floats on his own — With confidence!
The younger your baby is when they get in the water, the more they instinctively start to swim. To teach kicking, I helped him float on his back with his head resting on my shoulder. Then I moved his legs up and down in a kicking motion while I towed him backwards. IncrediMom and I would repeat, “Kick, kick, kick!” so he would associate the word with the motion too.
After mastering kicking and floating, he began to get brave. Once or twice, I watched him use a mostly drained bathtub as his own personal slip and slide. That’s how I knew he was ready to incorporate arm movements.
It takes time and he hasn’t perfected it yet but we all see his progress. To teach arm strokes, I support my little sidekick in a belly float and move him through the water with an enticing toy just out of reach (Rubber Ducks, Rubber Frogs, or his Batman action figure worked best). He was so focused with his eye on the prize that he paddled forward instinctively. At that moment, I didn’t even feel like I was teaching at all.
There you have it Incredi-Readers! Those are the basics for teaching a kid under two years old how to swim. Its all about comfort, play, and building confidence. We’ll see you at the pool!