Covid-19 has changed the world. But for babies born after March 2020, a coronavirus-world is all they have ever known. And infant swimming lessons – often held indoors and in group classes – are no longer as easily accessible as before.
There is an increasing amount of resources being created for new parents, filling the gap created by lack of social interaction and informal exchange of advice and experience.
Here’s how you can start preparing your baby for swimming class at home.
1. Start their exposure early
For babies, comfort is key. (By “babies”, we mean infants and young toddlers between 6 to 18 months old.) Some preparation goes a long way in keeping them happy and comfortable.
2. Engage them with water play as early as possible, anytime and anywhere
Many infants enjoy the sensation of water, so maximise bath time! Get them used to having water over their faces and heads. This will prepare them to eventually put their heads underwater.
Begin by gently pouring water down the back of their heads or over different parts of their body. Make it an intentional part of your bath routine and pre-empt them with the cue words: “Baby, ready, go!”
They might squirm a little but you can adjust the amount of water according to their comfort levels. Eventually, as they get more comfortable, you can start splashing around more and eventually running water directly over their faces.
You can do this even for the littlest ones between 4 to 8 months.
3. Go at a pace that’s comfortable for both you and baby
Giving them a heads-up with cue words is important as they will soon be able to associate the sensation of water over their faces with going underwater.
Watch their reaction! You know your baby best, so you should be the one deciding how fast (or how slow) you want to move things along.
Don’t scare your child (or yourself). Take it at a pace that’s comfortable for both of you. Babies pick up on vibes really quickly.
The most common cause of water phobia in young children (4 years and below) can often be traced back to overly-anxious parents or an association of repeated negative experiences around water.
Make bath time fun! Throw in some water toys for interaction and visual stimulation. Yellow rubber duckies are a timeless classic or you can even get some self-propelled boats or floaties. Or why not get creative with bubble-makers, sponges and even cups?
When you see your baby enjoying bath time, you know you are well set up for your baby’s first dip in the pool with you!