Water Wobbles – Becoming Upset in the Water
Most children will learn to love the water, some take longer than others and certain factors will also influence their mood. If a child is tired, hungry, or possibly coming down with an illness you may notice your baby being upset. Try to avoid bringing them swimming at these times as they may well associate how they felt for a few weeks after too. It may well be the temperature of the water, a recommended temperature for baby swimming is 30-34C and all babies are different in their ability to keep warm in water. For tiny babies a wetsuit is generally recommended for their first few months as they are less able to regulate their body temperature than an older child. For babies over 6 months and toddlers there is no one rule we generally say that you can tell if your child is feeling chilly and would invest in a wetsuit for them, or warm / thermal tops such as Eskeez, which are great for keeping them snug and comfortable in the water.
A common age of the “water wobbles” is around the age of 12-24 months. At this age the child’s development is rapid they are learning to walk, talk and are becoming more independent. Often their primary carer has gone back to work so they are also dealing with a new routine. You may notice in lessons they refuse to go to the teacher they once loved or get upset when they are asked to do a swim, some even cry before they enter the venue as they know where they are coming. The main thing is to ensure that you and your baby are not finding this too stressful, the last thing we want is for your little one to be put off the water for good. Generally, 99% of children do come through this after a few weeks or so. Your teacher may suggest cutting down on the number of swims in a lesson, focus on what the baby likes and remember keep talking to reassure them. Sometimes taking them on another day fun or family swimming helps them to build their confidence.
As a teacher and a parent to two children who did this I know it’s hard to see and sometimes you may wonder if you are doing the right thing. Persevere through this stage if you can as it will be worth it when they have settled again and remember if you give up now it tends to be much harder to introduce swimming as they get older.
Another common time children seem to struggle is when they start school, their routine has changed again and you may find they are too tired to swim or even listen. Don’t forget as well that your child will be going through many growth spurts which affects their co-ordination both on land and in water.