Parents of newborns, infants and toddlers are encouraged to follow the free information given on this page to prepare their child for learning to swim.
It's important for parents to understand that their child was born out of water and the best thing they can do is get them back into water as soon as possible.
It is also important that parents understand that the older their child becomes, the more accustomed to being in the upright position they become. This creates a problem and an obstacle for teaching a child to do what is commonly called a "Survival Float". The child will fight to sit up and be in their new normal position. This is counter productive for them to learn how to float. Parents will learn that the child will become agitated at being put in this lying down position and in almost all cases begin to cry and even scream in protest to any attempt to lay them back. It is entirely up to the parents as to whether they follow the instructions given below, but eventually it is the only way to get a child to learn the "skill of survival floating". Here are some steps you can take to prepare your child for learning "survival floating". It's the best thing you can do to prepare your child for swimming lessons. Survival floating is the act of floating horizontally on the water in a relaxed posture with the face looking straight up and the nose, mouth and eyes above the water. All other body parts are in the water. Here are the steps to train your child to do a survival float.
1. Start by running a warm bath with the water approximately 4-6 inches deep.
2. Buy a pool thermometer (about $9), and MAKE SURE the water is between 93- 97 degrees fahrenheit. Any cooler and the infant can get cold and any hotter can cause their body to overheat.
3. Get into the water and sit at one end with your legs apart. Have someone pass the infant to you. The child should be facing the same direction as the parent holding them.
4. Slowly and gently lower the baby into the water in a sitting or slightly laid back position as you hold him/her securely. With a newborn you must MAKE SURE YOU ARE SUPPORTING THE HEAD. Give your baby a few minutes to acclimate themselves to the water. It shouldn't take long if you have the water between 93-97 degrees.
5. When your baby is relaxed, begin to slowly lay them back. It's usually best to do this in slow increments. Don't try to do it all in one lesson. Do it a little each night during bath time.
6. The ultimate goal is to get your baby to lay all the way back with the ears under the water and their nose, mouth, and eyes above the water. Many children will struggle with this in the beginning because it is not like their new normal position. As the water goes into their ears their hearing is muffled and the water may tickle their ears.
7. Remain joyous and let them know how much fun it is to be in water. If they begin to cry as they are laid back, raise them back up just a little and tell them everything is ok. Keep working towards the goal of a horizontal float but don't over do it.
REMEMBER THAT THERE IS NO RUSH. Do a little each night and try to keep bath time as a fun occasion. If you start getting your newborn back into the water soon after birth, they will be far ahead of most children when it comes to learning to swim. The older they get the more difficult it will become.
I recommend that you AVOID ANY DUNKING of your child until they are totally comfortable with doing a horizontal float with support in back of their head.
DRYING THEIR EARS- It's important to make sure the inside of their ears are dry after any bath or shower. Water can get trapped in the ear canal and cause a fungus to grow which will cause a painful OUTER EAR INFECTION. I suggest using ear drying drops purchased at the pharmacy.
FINAL NOTE: AN INNER EAR INFECTION is a totally different childhood problem. It occurs from mucus being trapped in the inner ear canal and causing an inner ear infection. Water in the outer ear DOES NOT cause an inner ear infection. They are two totally separate problems. Use the drops after every bath and avoid the outer ear infection.
Call Aquatic Thrills Swim School with any questions you may have. If the parents have been working with the child and following the above directions, I recommend starting with survival and swim lessons any time after 18 months.
Coach Glenn Burdge. 772-626-1726