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Teaching Toddlers to Swim in Four Easy Steps

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Swimming is one of the most popular family activities in the UK. It is also the most popular participation sport in the country, with almost 2.9 million Brits swimming at least once a week. Aside from the fun, swimming is also a very healthy sport, particularly for infants, toddlers and young children. Research conducted on the subject revealed that kids who participate in swimming attain physical developmental milestones, language skills and social skills at a faster rate compared to their non-swimming peers.

However, the water is not the natural habitat of humans, so there are many inherent risks that we need to be aware of. Drowning is statistically the third highest cause of accidental death for children in the nation. So, it makes great sense to ensure that children learn to swim, which is considered a survival skill, from a young age. And instead of spending on swimming lessons, you can actually teach your children to swim using the four easy steps below.

Step 1: Buy Swimming Aids
Buy kids swimming aids for your children. Although they are not life saving devices, they do provide a useful amount of buoyancy that will help your children be more comfortable in the water. The buoyancy will also allow them to focus on developing their swimming skills instead of trying to stay afloat or upright.

For infants and young toddlers, swimming rings are a great aid to get them started. However, please ensure that it is the right fit so that your child can’t slide through the hole. For toddlers and young children, swimming arm bands are the way to go. It bears reminding that young children can drown in just seconds, so never, ever leave your child unsupervised in the water.

Step 2: Water Play
Get your children to get used to the water by letting them simply play in it. Obviously, it needs to be in shallow water. A wading pool or a kid’s pool is perfect for this. Familiarise your children with the weight and resistance of the water by getting them to splash the water with their hands and feet. This is incredibly useful because children will not understand the density of water and the greater force required to move in water without experiencing it themselves.

Step 3: Go Fetch
Place small pool toys or dive toys in the wading pool and ask your children to retrieve them. Make a game out of it instead of turning it into a chore, so be sure to pick up some toys your child throws as well to balance things out. Once your child develops sufficient ability, strength and coordination to pick up the toys regularly, you can actually start on the swimming lessons.

Step 4: Do the belly float!
Move to a proper pool or beach, but be sure to stay at the shallow end. Start your lessons with the basics. Get your child to lie on their belly on the surface of the water with you supporting them with your arms across the belly and thighs. Ask them to start paddling with their hands to create a forward movement.

Once they get comfortable with this method of traveling (let them do this in their own time), remove the support from their thigh (so your arm is only supporting their chest region now) and get them to use their feet to paddle as well. After several lessons, they will be able to move around the water without any support, bar the swimming aids. At this stage, you can probably start to teach them the correct techniques for swimming. Their confidence and mobility in the water will make mastering swimming techniques so much easier.

Safety Tips:
Please note that infants and young toddlers can get chilly very quickly, so always be mindful of the temperature of the water.

Megan x
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