Preparing a Baby for Swimming Season
Spring has sprung, and summer is but a breath away — which means that the swimming pool at Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club will be quite busy, especially during lessons offered by our aquatics instructor, Leslie Lee. So, now may be a good time to prepare your baby for the water. And while there is no perfect age for little ones to learn, do not be afraid to start when they are as young as six months, prior to any fear or traumatic occurrence — that is, of course, if they are ready. Luckily, there are signs for parents to look out for, as well as tips and techniques that professionals like Leslie can provide to give you and your child a quality learning experience that could spare him or her a life-threatening accident.
How to Prepare
The first step to preparing your baby to learn to swim is creating a fun, encouraging environment. This may be in the bathtub or any location where you can incorporate games, singing, laughter and positive reinforcement into the lesson. Splashing, kicking and blowing bubbles can help babies incorporate arm, leg and breathing techniques. Remember:
- Splashing, kicking and blowing bubbles engage the arms and legs and establish breath control.
- Reaching for toys or loved ones, such as you, allows babies to utilize arm motions while alternating hands and, therefore, encouraging stroke stimulation.
- Blowing bubbles is not only fun, but helps babies practice proper head placement
- Kicking makes babies move faster, and when they stop kicking, they stop moving, reiterating the connection of movement in the water.
These techniques provide babies with a foundational view of swimming. Then, they are ready to learn how to float. This comes when parents hold their baby in a horizontal position, getting him or her acclimated to the correct body movements. When parents lay a baby on his or her back, with the head resting on a loved one’s shoulder, that baby can begin to recognize the back float and decrease chances of swallowing water.
How to Know if a Baby is Not Ready
You can be or hire a highly experienced swim instructor, but not every baby is ready to learn how to swim, as curiosity, comfort and confidence varies.
If babies do not respond to the encouraging environment that you have created, do not engage with the techniques you have taught and do not progress in any capacity, they are simply not ready. Forcing them to be ready will make for more of a negative experience than a positive one, with the outcome not being worth the journey.
Tips to Apply When a Baby is Ready
When babies are ready to learn to swim, there are agendas that every parent, caregiver and instructor should follow. For Leslie, these are the standards that she preaches and teaches:
- Never let a baby swim alone. An adult who knows how to swim should be watching this baby.
- Never turn your back on a baby who is in or around a body of water.
- Always keep your home pool locked and/or inaccessible, unless an adult who knows how to swim is by the pool.
- Never fill a bathtub with water and leave a baby unattended, even for a minute.
- Teach babies to safely respect the water, in order to prevent an accident, by waiting for an adult to count to three before they enter the water and not reaching into the pool to retrieve a floating object like a toy noodle.
- Always place a lifejacket on a baby who is on a boat.
- Be aware of the currents and force of the water when a baby is on a beach
- Do not acquire the false sense of safety and security that comes with placing floats, vests and water wings on a baby.
Seeking Help from a Swimming Professional
Part of fostering a safe and fun experience for your baby in and around the water may mean seeking out a certified water-safety instructor like Leslie. She and her professional peers can connect with babies’ learning style, creating an informative atmosphere for maximum growth.
A good transition into this informative atmosphere may be a parent/child class like those at Golden Ocala. In this way, both you and your baby can learn to navigate new experiences with one another, improving health and wellness for the entire family and creating great memories that will last a lifetime.
Please note, every instructor has a unique teaching style, so hire one who encourages your baby’s growth and responsiveness to achieve success. To find out if Golden Ocala is the right place to find the type of instructor you are looking for, call (352) 402-4350.