Swimming for babies
Babies have been in fluid in the womb for nine months so are comfortable in the water almost from the minute they are born as long as they feel safe. We have worked with the British Association of Paediatricians to develop this guidance on the best way to introduce your baby to swimming.
Fun at bathtime
You can use bath time as a way to get used to the water. Keep bath time short; reassure your baby by smiling, talking to them and maintaining eye contact.
From an early age babies will instinctively move arms and legs when immersed in water and you can use this to make them familiar with feeling supported and feel water on their face.
Moving to the swimming pool
The best age for babies to start pool activities is around six months. If you take them swimming before four months they can become chilled very easily and because of differences in physical maturity, it is best to check with your health visitor before you start any adult and child programme.
To make the activity pleasurable for both you and your baby try to:
- Always submerge your baby to shoulder level or ensure they are wearing a full suit. Babies out of the water will soon become cold.
- Watch your baby’s face so it does not fall below the water and so you can monitor their reactions.
- Keep moving – your baby becomes aware that by moving their arms and legs they will stay afloat.
We have developed the British Gas Learn to Swim Pathway to take children through their first splash to full competence in the water.
We have two schemes, Duckling and Swim a Song, that work as a ‘Foundation’ level and look specifically at developing early years water confidence through ‘adult and child’ and ‘pre-school’ sessions. The emphasis is upon development of very basic motor skills and introduction to water and the swimming environment through fun and games.
If you like to sing in the shower start with a Swim a Song class. Action songs and rhymes are used to teach babies and toddlers – you can even practice at bath time!
Our Duckling Awards reward your youngster for the progress they are making. From just £1.50 you can buy certificates and badges to mark their achievements and motivate them onto the next level. Click here to find out more.
Swim a Song, in conjunction with Total Swimming, can be delivered through sessions at your local pool at help to teach water safety and movement through structured play and exercise to music. Just ask at your local pool to see if they deliver lessons. If not, the Swim a Song Parent Pack includes a CD of 32 songs, an explanatory booklet, a sticker sheet and progress chart and a towel... everything you need to get started.