Teaching a very young child to swim can be extremely challenging. Toddlers often develop totally irrational fears – They know what they want to do and what they don’t and the most effective way they can do this is by kicking and screaming if they don’t want to do something! The swimming pool is a totally foreign environment – they’re weightless, it’s noisy and feels pretty darn weird underwater,they lose contact with the ground and are continually being forced to do things they don’t want to do by you – their parent! The trick is to help the child feel at ease in the water from as early an age as possible so that they don’t feel nervous or out of control. A confident child will learn to swim much faster than a nervous child.
So how do you get a very young child (less than a year old) to be more confidant in the water? Babies, or toddlers under a year old have a reflex action that you can use to help them feel more comfortable underwater. When you blow on their face they take a small breath in. Here’s what you should do:
- Hold you child in on arm with them facing you.
- Count down from 3 out loud and then blow gently on their face.
- You should see them inhale (, be certain they have!)
- Submerge them very briefly just up to the top of their nose.
- As they have just inhaled their natural reaction will be to breathe out and blow bubbles. Bring them straight back out again. They may look quite startled at this point but should not be choking or swallowing any water.
Repeated, your baby will soon get used to the sensation of having water on their face. This technique will really help them get used to water so when they start swimming lessons they will have a much easier time of it.
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