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How do I teach my toddler to swim?

(20 Posts)
thetraveller Fri 09-Jul-10 13:01:06

We live overseas with access to a pool but not to baby / toddler swimming lessons. DS (13 months) loves the water but I don't have a clue what I'm doing; at the moment we just spend a lot of time bobbing around in the water. This is fine, but I'm wondering if there's more we could do. What do they do in swimming lessons for babies this age? Should I get some water wings / one of those buoyancy jackets for DS?

PuzzleAddict Fri 09-Jul-10 13:16:44

I have had great experiences with buoyancy suits (Aquafloaties). They allow the child's limbs to move fairly naturely. But none of mine could really progress to not using that until age 4-4.5yo at earliest.

Friend's DC can now swim without floats at age 3 & 4.5 yo... but they are in the pool min. twice a week every week. They used armbands before that.

MimieD Fri 09-Jul-10 13:38:27

there is always a toddler swimming lesson going on just before my DDs lesson. They sing lots of nursery rhymes and it is more to get the kids familiar with water (ie putting their ears/head in the water, jumping from the edge, lying on their back in the water). For instance, when they sing hickory dickory dock and put the child up in the air when the mouse runs up the clock and down with a splash in the water when the mouse runs down smile, when they come to tick tock, the toddler is moved from side to side by a parent dipping their kid's ear in the water. There are a few books available at our local library on toddler swimming so you should be able to get some on Amazon.

MimieD Fri 09-Jul-10 13:40:12

just wanted to add, the little ones always have lots of fun and as far as learning any swimming technique, I'd wait till your DS is at least 2 and a half. Once they are ready they will try to copy you anyway...

Chil1234 Fri 09-Jul-10 14:22:38

I got my then toddler to go from 'bobbing about in armbands to 'moving around' by introducing a ball. I threw the ball to the other side of the pool and he naturally turned his head and scrabbled his way towards it. A swimming teacher we met on holiday used a technique of getting him to float on his tummy (no armbands) whilst she held his hands out front and then she walked backwards, pulling him along slowly. She let go one hand to encourage him to 'swim' with it and kick his legs - still getting that forward momentum. He did quite well with that.

MathsMadMummy Fri 09-Jul-10 14:25:35

watching thread for ideas, we've only taken DD a few times and she's just turned 3! she loves it but we can't afford lessons

soupmaker Fri 09-Jul-10 15:41:23

Our DD loved being in the pool from the get go. She is 2.5 and is managing a pretty good doggy paddle with legs kicking - she has a buoyancy waistcoat on with the two floats on either side of the zip at the front taken out. To be honest we didn't do much more than from early on hold her in the swimming position and encourage leg kicking. She also saw me and DP swimming. She is fearless and happy to jump in and go under the water - comes up sputtering but with a grin from ear to ear. The buoyancy jacket will give him the support he needs in the water and if you take the two floats out at the front he will naturally go into 'swimming' position. DD likes chasing ducks, balls and has a foam 'noodle' to play with and hang onto - that might help too. Best bit about being in the pool is that always leads to an afternoon nap!

scurryfunge Fri 09-Jul-10 15:47:40

Confidence and enjoyment are the main things to be concentrating on for toddlers.

Floaties and arm bands are ok for safety but allow the wrong body position or proper swimming, so ditch them as soon as you can.

Use little floating lightweight balls or similar and get your child to blow them across the surface of the water...this will dvelop good breathing practice in the water.

Any game that encourages movement in the water will be fun and putting face in water, back of head in water,etc.

MathsMadMummy Fri 09-Jul-10 16:26:21

until the last time DD didn't want to be held out of her depth, she only wanted to stand, but this time she was ok. she doesn't have arm bands or a floaty suit, as we thought it better to avoid them (?) but she does now have a float which she was holding and kicking her legs.

problem is loads of my wealthier friends all do swimming lessons with their DCs so I feel like she's missing out hmm

frenchfancy Fri 09-Jul-10 16:37:06

If you have access to a pool then I favour the organic approach. Use armbands for safety, and let the child decide when to take them off. Lots of encouragement, and a little bit of the throw them in at the deep end (as a game when you are suppervising) and they will efectively teach themselves.

Remember if you have a pool then safety is the most important concern, not how well they swim. My eldest 2 DDs learnt this was and my dd3 (3yrs) has just decded this week that the armbands are coming off. My sole concern is making sure she is safe.

pigleychez Fri 09-Jul-10 19:18:01

I started DD at swimming lessons at 13mths.
Shes now 23mths can swim a few metres unaided with no bouyancy aids underwater.

Def agree about water safety being important and is a big part of her lessons. She now jumps in, turns and swims to the side, and has even been swimming fully clothed to simulate falling into a lake etc.
If you can do without armbands ect then all the better. Free swimming allows better movement and if you fall into water, you arent necessarily going to be wearing armbands so better for safety.

We do lots of fun games, splashing too etc. Its all about having fun. DD is very happy to go underwater and has leant a verbal prompt that she assosiates with going under.

Roo83 Fri 09-Jul-10 19:52:33

I agree with pp that if you can manage without aids and just holding them in a swimming position it is better. We also do lessons, where a lot of the exercises involve underwater swimming, diving etc (my son is 26mnths) but a lot of this wouldnt be safe to replicate on your own.

The main thing I'd say is confidence-lots of splashing, kicking, pouring water over his head (maybe with a watering can or small cup). Also encourage him to go on his back by with you supporting him (easiest with his head on your shoulder) and get him kicking his legs....that way he can see the effect its having and will enjoy making a splash!

Goodluck and enjoy

PDog Fri 09-Jul-10 20:52:32

Agree with pp about the importance of water safety. Try and teach him to hold onto the side independently. Show him how to blow bubbles under water.

Good advice re splashing, nursery rhymes, get him on his back etc

Also agree with comments about bouyancy aids if you can manage without them. My mum was a swimming teacher and didn't recommend using them because children then think they can float. Better to get him on his back learning to float on his own with you gradually reducing your hold.

Water saftey and confidence are more important than swimming technique at this age imo.

thetraveller Sat 10-Jul-10 10:40:41

Thanks everyone. Some really great advice here. We're off to the pool this afternoon, so will try to put some of this into practice then!

Sassyfrassy Sun 11-Jul-10 22:14:47

We use a zoggs noodle (it's a long foam thingie) instead of floats. You can use it to support them both on the front and the back. Very versatile and good fun.

char3mum Sun 11-Jul-10 22:27:03

we have tried arm bands jackets and noodles and acombination of all three, believe me we got some odd looks in the pool!! in the end my five year okd just got, literaly in arm bands then took them off and started to swim, was so proud!!! my three year okd is insanly jealous and is trying to compete with his brother, we are down to just one noodle now!!!!!

Debs75 Sun 11-Jul-10 22:34:03

DD had swimming lessons from 4 months, although they were more like supported play in the water.

Don't use armbands as they support them in the wrong way.

We just used ourselves to support the babies and being that close kept them happy and secure.

Don't even think about teaching strokes yet. Our instructor told me that even if they look like they are swimming at 2 years it will be about 4 years before they swim properly.

Hold her with one arm under her belly and float her around. Or use two hands eitherside of her waist.

Teach her water safety asap. Use cue words and games so she knows where the side is and is not afraid of getting in and out with help.

Have fun and don't overface her

CoteDAzur Sun 11-Jul-10 22:40:54

DS is 13 months as well and we have just started following Diaper Dolphins DVD from this website.

It is very good. I heartily recommend it. I picked it up from a friend whose 13 month old is now going underwater for a few seconds. His two older sisters, aged 3 and 5, swim like mermaids envy

Meanwhile, DD is almost 5 and I've been taking her to baby & toddler swimming classes since she was under 1. She still can't swim without a buoyancy belt.

dearprudence Sun 11-Jul-10 22:52:05

Just take him swimming regularly. It's all about water confidence and enjoyment. IMO lessons are pointless until a child is ready to actually swim.

missangelamastermind Thu 30-Jun-16 04:16:44

You can always try this:

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