Puddle Ducks, leading UK baby & child swim school, are here to help you make bath time, holidays and swimming lessons fun for all the family with their tips for building water confidence...
Here at Puddle Ducks, we value water confidence as highly as our swimmers achieving a perfect front crawl. When our parents bring their precious babies and toddlers to us, we know they are looking not just for their little ones to feel water-confident but also for them, the parents, to feel confident taking their babies and toddlers swimming.
The summer of 2020 might be different to our normal summers but it is still as important as ever that our children have love and respect for the water; baths and paddling pools are just as joyful to little ones as swimming pools and the sea, in fact, they are normally more manageable!
Here are our top tips for nurturing water confidence in your little ones:
1. Make sure the water is nice and warm – babies, especially very young ones, aren’t very good at retaining their body heat – if you are lucky enough to get to a pool later in the summer, ideally choose one heated to 28°C or over. Many local authority pools have a ‘baby’ pool which is warmer and shallower than the main pool. If you are a member of a private gym with a pool, these are often warmer than average so ask if you can take your child along. Have a lovely towel to wrap your baby in as soon as you get out of the water and they will be snug and happy. If you are using a paddling pool, tip in some warm water to temper the cold water from the garden hose.
2. Be water-confident yourself. This doesn’t mean you need to be a confident or even competent swimmer but if you aren’t a strong swimmer or if you feel nervous around the water, spending time in the paddling pool, sharing a bath and eventually taking your baby swimming is the perfect opportunity to overcome your fears. If you are in pool, stay in the shallow end, don’t panic if you get splashed – be a positive role model for your little one
3. Take it slowly – you know your child. Some of us have little dare-devils and others are more cautious. Either way, don’t underestimate the impact of having your face/head underwater for the first time; it can upset even the most boisterous of babies. Puddle Ducks are the UK’s only 100% child-led baby & pre-school swim school – this means everything is elective and a child will only ever go under water when they are ready; it is proven to help with their water confidence in the long term. If you are happy to, place your mouth and then nose in the water and blow bubbles, keeping eye contact with your baby. Eventually, you can put your eyes down and blow bubbles facing the bottom. You will be amazed at how quickly your child copies you – imitation is one of the most effective learning methods for children. You show them first and the use a signal like, ‘(Child’s Name), Ready, Bubbles!’ and watch them try!
4. Make it fun – games, toys, songs, rhymes, blowing bubbles – most babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers will focus on these things and forget they are nervous. Also, this is how our little ones learn, through play! We have lots of songs and rhymes in our lessons – take a look at the ‘Swimming Lesson in your Lounge’ we did for JoJo Maman Bébé in IGTV. If your little one is a more confident, get some noodles/woggles (one cut in half for them to place under each arm) and one made into a tunnel to do ‘choo choo trains’ underneath!
5. Teach them to float – start off by fully supporting them – we have great videos for you to watch with advice for floating. This is a key skill that could save your child’s life if they fell into water
If you feel like giving any of our tips a go and want even more to do with your little ones in the water this summer we have a some great playlists on YouTube with lots of activities for you to try with your little ones in the paddling pool and if you are lucky enough this summer, the swimming pool: