Teaching your children how to swim gives them a skill that lasts a lifetime, and it's a lesson that can keep them safe. Teaching toddlers how to swim may be a challenge since they have a short attention span and may be nervous in the water. By introducing games during swim lessons, you can help your tot overcome fears and build strength and confidence in the water. The American Academy of Pediatrics cautions parents not to begin swim lessons for a child between the ages of 1 to 4 unless he shows signs of readiness, including physical ability and emotional maturity.
Many toddlers love to splash in the bath. You can make swimming fun and teach them how to kick by inviting them to splash in the pool. Toddlers are likely to enjoy it even more since they can splash as big as they like without getting in trouble for making a mess. Ask your tot to hold on to the edge of the pool and kick his legs behind him. Put your hands under his stomach for support, and invite him to kick to his heart's content. He will build up leg strength while he's having fun, which will help him master swimming skills more easily while also feeling more comfortable in the pool. Always keep your hands under his body to support him while he splashes.
Blow Bubbles Like a Fish
A lot of toddlers like to engage in pretend play. Sit next to your toddler on the pool steps or hold him in your arms, and ask him to blow bubbles in the water like a fish. If he can hold his breath and is comfortable going below the surface of the water, ask him to blow fish bubbles underwater. This game helps your tot practice the breath control needed for swimming.
Bring toys into the pool with you to make this game even more fun. Sit with your toddler on the steps of the pool and ask him to catch the fish that are toys you've placed barely out of reach. He can catch the fish by reaching out, grabbing and pulling the fish toward him. This movement simulates swim strokes. The American Academy of Pediatrics says it is important for parents to always provide "touch supervision" for toddlers in the pool, meaning keep your toddler within arm's reach; do not let your toddler get away from you while reaching out for those fish.
Do the Starfish Float
Floating is an important skill for young swimmers. Being able to float on your back lets you rest in the water. Ask your toddler to pretend to be a starfish while mastering floating. Gently lay your tot on his back in the water and support his back with your hand, keeping his face out of the water. Invite him to move his arms and legs at his sides like a starfish. He can pretend to be another animal if he prefers. Maybe he's seen a sea otter resting on its back. The key is for him to relax, so choose a calm spot in the pool. Move your support to your toddler's head so that he is largely supporting his own body while floating. Keep it fun, and don't force, and he'll be your little water puppy before you know it.