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Introducing your child to water

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Introducing your child to water is a unique experience, as no one child will react exactly the same. Although we can’t tell you what to expect we can try and advise you on what to do if your child reacts in certain ways.

Many young children are completely happy around water but for some toddlers, the experience can be a bit daunting. Generally, you can introduce a young baby to the water from their first few days as they have no associated fear and find the water, so long as it is warm enough, a comforting environment as it is similar to their time in the womb. For baby swimming sessions babies can join from a couple of weeks old up to around 18 months old but lots of toddlers do experience “water wobbles” around the age of 1 when they are developing from babies into toddlers.

For toddlers and children, the best way to introduce them to water is to start off small and slowly build up their confidence. This is very important because anything unknown to your child is likely to scare them, so the best way to introduce something new to them is a bit at a time. For example, you could teach them to wash their hands and face, move on to being comfortable in the bath and shower and then visit the pool. The main point is to build trust in the process so the child is comfortable at each stage and happy to move on to the next stage – excited even in some cases but if they are afraid they just need more time and encouragement.

Although this all sounds very easy and simple, sometimes kids don’t like water and it will take a lot longer for them to get used to it! Sometimes you will have to use a different strategy, such as having a weekly bath with some toys to keep them distracted and have some fun. If you stick with this routine your child is likely to associate bath time with play time and so will enjoy being in the water.

After you are confident that your child is happy and content in the bath, you can try the next step which is a pool. This may seem a simple step but many children don’t like pools because of the size, the noise and sometimes the temperature – or simple because it is new and a bit daunting! However, it’s important to get them into a simple routine so that they slowly get used to the pool, and make it fun so they associate it with having a good time! It is important that your child has your support when they are first visiting the pool, you can take them yourself for pool visits or attend lessons together. If your child is still struggling initially never force them to get into the pool but maybe bring them along to watch so that they can see the other children having fun in the pool. This will hopefully help them to realise that the pool is safe and be re-assured enough to give it ago in their own time. It is really important that a child is never dragged or forced into a pool, they may want to watch for a while, play with toys on the side to get used to the environment and then you can ask them “would you like to get in” you would get in first and sit them on the side til they are happy to join you. Once a child is happy to get into the pool they are confident enough to start learning to swim.

So to recap here are 4 easy steps to introducing a nervous child to water:

  1. Get them comfortable in water (Bath, shower etc)
  2. Help them into a fun routine
  3. Slowly introduce them to pools
  4. Show them that it is safe and fun by going to watch
  5. Ask them when they are ready to get in – never force them in.

POSTED BY Alex Oldfield
22 January 2016