Swimming is a skill that should be acquired from an early age. Learning is easier when we’re younger. The sooner babies enter the pool, the sooner they’ll be water safe and confident. Starting swim lessons can be scary for your little one since there are stimuli, sounds and objects they’re unfamiliar with, and they are in a new space: pools are loud, humid and full of surprises. But don’t worry, they will get used to it, and the process will be easier if you follow some of the tips our DSH team has put together to help you prepare your baby for swim lessons.
Get Wet at Home
One of the first steps you should take to get your baby more water-confident is to prepare them to get wet. It is a feeling most of them don’t like. Use bath time to familiarise them with the feeling of water in their back and face. Watering cans or similar toys can be a great tool to help you get them wet. To make it even more fun, have waterproof toys around; the idea is to make the time in the water as fun as possible.
Just remember, when in and around water, even if it is a bathtub, safety comes first: Make sure you have everything you need at arm’s reach; never leave the baby alone; if you need to step away, take the baby with you and empty all water containers after you’re done using them.
One of the most important aspects for little ones to be comfortable in the pool is their swimwear. If it is too tight or loose, they will feel it and might negatively associate the water with their discomfort.
Regular diapers are not meant to be submerged. Diapers are designed to absorb liquids. When in water, they will try to take in as much as possible, making them extra heavy and sometimes even oversized. When this happens, the diaper is not doing its job since it will not absorb any liquid from the baby, and the added weight might make it fall off.
However, technology has come a long way, and there are lots of swim diaper options in the market. Disposable or reusable, it all depends on your preferences. At Davina’s Swim House, we require that all swimmers who are not potty trained to wear a 2-layered swim diaper with a snug fit around the legs and waist. The first layer can be any reusable or disposable swim diaper. The second layer, which goes over the first one, must be a reusable, neoprene swim diaper, such as a Happy Nappy Swim Diaper, which can be bought at the Front Desk at our Marlee & Carluke locations.
Depending on what you buy, you might also want to add a nice swimsuit on top of the swim diaper. Regardless of the style and print, ensure it has an appropriate fit and doesn’t have uncomfortable buckles or strings that might give your baby a skin rash.
Pack with Time
Leaving your home with a baby is already a big task; there are many things to pack, and the possibility of forgetting the swimwear you or they need is very high. We recommend packing everything you will need for your Parent & Tot swim class in advance. Having everything packed and ready the night before will be a big help.
The essential swim items for your baby are:
- Swim diaper
- Swimsuit (optional)
- Swim buddy (optional)
The essential swim items for the parent/caregiver are:
- Swim cap (optional)
- Flip-flops or Crocs (or other indoor shoes)
At our Marlee and Carluke locations, you can also find goggles, swim caps, shampoo, conditioner and moisturizers for swimmers, and a wide selection of swim diapers (disposable and reusable).
Find a Swim Buddy
Nervous swimmers often find comfort in having a swim buddy that will wait for them on the pool deck and sometimes even swim with them! Our favourite swim buddies at Davina’s Swim House are the rubber duckies. If your baby has any other favourite plastic animal or another waterproof floating toy, bring them to class with you and use them during bath time. Your baby will start associating the toy with water and fun.
Give it time
Is your baby still crying after a couple of lessons? Do you feel they’re not advancing at the same pace as the other babies in the class? Do not worry. All humans have different learning abilities, and we do not progress in the same way. Some swimmers might take more time than others to get used to the water, or to start mastering the skills. But with patience and perseverance, all of them will get water confident and start swimming.
If you know your baby gets nervous when getting to the pool, try getting there a little bit earlier and get them used to the noisy pool deck: maybe they need to get wet in the shower before splashing in the pool, or they might need the company of their swim buddy.
Find the strategy that works best for you. Ask the instructor; they might have other tips to help you. Don’t compare your baby’s progress with anyone else. Swimming and getting water-confident is a personal lifetime journey, and everyone will get there; it might just take some more time for some.
Make the swim experience fun from beginning to end. Your baby will positively associate the swim school, the pool and their swim friends. Make every action fun, sing songs while getting ready, or invent a game before going into the water; there are endless options for you to make the time you’re sharing with your little one as fun and entertaining as possible.
While in the water with them, there will be a lot of singing; Learn the songs and sing them afterwards. It will bring good memories that will strengthen their water confidence.
The bond between you and your baby will be stronger after every class. Sharing with them that time in the water is an irreplaceable moment, and you are setting them on the path of water safety and swimming fun. Persistency and constant water interaction are key to having water-confident babies and kids.
If you want to get wet with your infant and register for Parent & Tot swim lessons in Toronto, the Love to Bubble program at Davina’s Swim House offers year-round classes for babies from 4 to 24 months old. Learn more about our program, find the location closest to you, and sign up for a fantastic quality time in the pool with your baby!