Learning to swim is something everyone should do – although it’s not nearly as easy as it looks. Toddlers often develop totally irrational fears – they’re learning how to control and manipulate their environment and the best way they can do this is by causing a big fuss if they don’t want to do something! The one place they are likely to feel most out of control is in the swimming pool – they can’t float, they can’t breathe 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 answer is to help the child feel at ease in the water from a very early age. 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 have a little known and not very well understood reflex. When you blow on their face they take a small breath in. Here’s what you should do:
- Cradle your child in one arm and try to maintain eye contact.
- Count down from 3 out loud and then blow gently on their face.
- When you see them inhale (, be certain they have!)
- Lower them quickly into the water, 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 will probably look a bit startled at this point but should otherwise be fine.
Over time and repetition you can increase the depth to which you are submerging them.. This technique will build water confidence and familiarity so that when they start having proper swimming lessons they should be much more receptive and manageable in the pool.