Quick Tips to get your Little One Ready for Swimming Season
As a former lifeguard and now swim team mom, I realize the importance of learning to swim and more importantly for kids to be safe and feel comfortable in the water as early as possible.
This may be your little one’s first summer or you may have kids that have already experienced some summer pool time. Whatever stage of life you are in, it’s always a great time to help your kiddos learn to love and be comfortable in and around the water.
Here are a few quick and easy tips of things you can do now to help prepare your little one for the upcoming swimming season:
Practice in the bath
The bath is a great place to get your little one used to the water and familiar with splashing and having water on different parts of their body. This works better if you give your little one a bath and just focus on playing. Don’t do any washing if your baby doesn’t like it.
Make it fun and splash around
- Make a game of pouring water on different parts of their body so they become familiar with what if feels like
- Practice putting their face a bit in the water
- The bath is a great, safe place to practice blowing bubbles in the water. This helps kiddos get familiar with their face being in the water and is a building block for learning to breathe correctly while swimming.
- Start with having them just put their lips on the surface of the water and blow little bubbles on the surface. Once they are comfortable with that, slowly increase getting their face more and more in the water and blowing bigger bubbles.
- You can play fun games with blowing bubbles like blow fast, blow big bubbles, blow tiny bubbles etc.
Pretend you are swimming
- Once your little one is comfortable with splashing and blowing bubbles, you can help them “swim” a bit in the bath by floating on their tummy and using their hands to move around
- They can blow bubbles and lift their head up and down to practice breathing too
- The bath is also a good place to try out swim diapers and swimsuits
Get the right gear and practice with it
- I feel that good goggles are so helpful for kids learning to swim, especially if you are in a pool with a lot of chlorine or salt water
- For the littlest kids, I love goggles that are more like a mask and have big spaces for they eyes. These seem to be more comfortable and natural feeling for the littlest kids
- If the goggle strap bothers your little one’s hair, you can also buy straps that are easy to adjust and won’t pull hair. Here are the goggles that we used for years with great success when our kids were little. If you have a swim store near you, going to try on some different types of goggles is a great idea. This way you can see what fits your little one's face the best
- Practice with a swim diaper and swimsuit - the bath is also a great time to practice wearing a swim diaper so it’s not a new thing when you arrive at the pool for the first time
- Keep in mind swim diapers don’t hold in pee - so plan accordingly if you are getting dressed before you arrive at the pool. You can always get your little one into the their swim diaper and swimsuit and then put a regular diaper over it for the car ride to the pool
Find favorite toys
Make sure you bring some fun toys for your little one to splash around in the pool.
- Small buckets or stacking cups are great for scooping and pouring
- Traditional sinking or diving toys are even great for little ones, they can drop them on the top step or in a few inches of water and then scoop them back up. Traditional diving toys come in lots of shapes and sizes (and often your little one’s favorite character) so find some that your kids love
- Don’t forget that many traditional toys work great in the pool too. Let your kid bring their favorite small truck or car or doll to play with in the water
Ready to hit the pool? Keep these tips in mind
Start small - Give your little one a chance to experience the pool at their own pace
- Start on the steps or baby pool just splashing around
- If you have access to one, zero entry pools are great for little learners because they can have fun in the littlest bit of water and go deeper as they become more comfortable
- Play lots of games and make it fun! You can walk little ones around the pool in your arms without them getting very wet so they can become comfortable with the pool setting
As a former lifeguard and swimming teacher, this tip is important. Don’t let your little one become too dependent on floaties.
Floaties can be a great tool in keeping little ones safe, especially if you have more than one kiddo to keep your eye on, but make sure to give your kiddos plenty of time without floaties so they can learn what it feels like to swim unassisted.
It’s important for them to learn to be comfortable in the water on their own. Some kids who use floaties too much become too dependent on them and then it takes a lot longer to learn to swim on their own.
And when your baby is ready for a break from the water? Put them in the shade on a Lay and Play Adventure Mat.
Check out our very first prototype of the Lay and Play Adventure Mat at our pool.
I hope these tips help you prepare your baby for a fun and safe swimming season. Remember, learning to swim is a process, so be patient and enjoy the journey! If you have any questions, feel free to ask, I’m happy to help!