Everything you need to know about teaching kids to swim
Summer is officially here, which means it’s time to start thinking about family fun by the pool or taking a much needed tropical beach vacation. But it can be tricky when your child is worried about the water, or you’re worried about your child being too close to the water. Teaching kids to swim can be an excellent way to promote water safety, prevent dangerous situations, and have peace of mind when taking your child near a pool, lake, or beach. So, whether they’re just dipping their toes in the shallow end or ready to make a big splash, here’s everything you need to know about how to teach kids to swim.
Why should I start teaching my child to swim so early?
Whether you’re just planning a vacation at a hotel with a pool or if you want to travel to a beach, it's important to teach them the skills they need to stay safe by the water. According to the CDC, water-related accidents, including drowning, can pose a significant risk for children ages one through four. So, it is crucial to make it a priority to start promoting water safety for kids as early as possible. Familiarizing your child with the water from an early age can help build their comfort and confidence in the water, making it easier to introduce formal swimming lessons later on.
When is my child ready to start learning?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends beginning at around one year old in order to prevent drowning and strongly encourages basic water survival skills training by age four. However, the AAP does not recommend teaching a baby to swim. Infants are still too young to lift their head out of the water to breathe on their own. You can still engage in water familiarization activities by taking them to the pool or beach regularly to play in shallow water and gradually build their comfort in the water. If you're not confident in your own swimming abilities or teaching skills, consider enrolling your child in a reputable swim program or finding a qualified swim instructor who specializes in teaching children and prioritizes water safety.
What do I need to do as a parent?
One of your top priorities as a parent should be to ensure careful and constant supervision of your child at all times while they are in or near the water. You also have to be vigilant about restricting any access to pools or other bodies of water from children when a guardian is not present. Always be knowledgeable and prepared for an emergency by learning water rescue tricks, CPR, and having a phone close by to call for help. Celebrate your child's progress and achievements in the water through positive reinforcement, offering praise, encouragement, and rewards.
How should I start teaching my child to swim?
With small children, it can be tricky to figure out how to get started teaching them water safety and swimming skills. One way to begin is by holding onto kids while they are in the water and getting them used to moving around in it while being safely held by an adult. Start by working on getting them comfortable just being in the water so they aren't afraid. Incorporate games, toys, and other fun activities to make the learning process enjoyable. As your child gains confidence, introduce basic skills like going underwater while holding their breath, pushing and gliding through the water at least 25 meters, and learning how to get out of the water safely. Remember to practice consistency and repetition to reinforce these skills and ensure progress. As they get more comfortable, they can learn more complicated skills like how to tread water and even learn a swimming stroke!
What swim safety skills does my child need to learn?
The most important part of teaching kids to swim is making sure they are knowledgeable and feel comfortable with basic safety and survival in the water. Teach them essential water safety rules, such as always swimming with a buddy, staying within designated swimming areas, and not running near the pool. Continual supervision is crucial, and even if your child knows how to swim, they still require constant supervision when near water.
What do I need to help keep my child safe?
In order to have the most safe and successful time teaching your little one how to swim, you’re going to need to get some devices to help protect them in case of an emergency. While children should be closely supervised at all times when near the water, getting floatation devices such as arm floaties and life jackets is a must to keep kids safe and afloat while they are learning how to swim. Children should wear a floatation device anytime they are near the water and are not fully comfortable and well-practiced in swimming.
What if my child isn’t ready?
If your little one isn’t quite ready to hit the pool, that’s ok! Get them started with a fun water-free activity instead to help them build confidence in their abilities and work up to time in the water. We recommend trying out our Liki Trike which will help them build up their independence as well as their motor skills. Liki is the most compact folding trike on the market and was designed to grow with your child. It is so easy to move and transport, you can easily use it to walk down to the public pool, or keep it in your trunk as you take a road trip down to the sand. The Liki Trike was designed to help develop confidence in their ability to do amazing things.
We hope this information helps you start your journey to teaching your kids to swim or makes things a little bit easier when you head out to explore the tropical locations and watery destinations, near home and afar!
Doona is passionate about making your parenting journey simpler and easier than ever. For more parenting tips, take a look at our blog. Or, if you are looking for products that can help make your life less stressful and safer your little ones, check out our Doona Car Seat & Stroller and Liki Trike.