Updated: Sep 16
And she was...... a water baby , until I got lazy and circumstances stoped us from going to the pool every week. And when I finally went again after a month hiatus, she was afraid of the water to begin with , It did not help that she had showered with us either, not baths. She was so terrified of the bath that I had to get in with her. That is when I realised and why I am writing this that is so important to get your baby into water as quickly and as much as you can.
Here are some ways to get you both in the drink.
Get in the bath, You can either get in with them. Nothing quite as relaxing as bubs on your chest having skin on skin in a warm bath or pop them in the kitchen or bathroom sink to begin with and graduate to a baby bath or big bath. They are born of water, it's natural to them so getting them dunked again, brings peace, familiarity and safety.
Get in a pool , swimming lesson to begin with for wee ones are expensive, (for older necessary ) so find your local leisure centre, scope out safe swim times for mother and child. There will be different ones on different days to suit your schedule and get yourself down there. It's wonderful to get into deeper water than the bath to swish around and get them used to a large volume of water. They are not afraid to be floated around. Taken under. They naturally close their throat over as to not swallow the water. Bobbing about, learning to splash, and kick , play with toys etc gives them and you confidence. Once they are bigger , any time from 6 months to one year, enrol them in to lessons. There they will learn survival methods, going under, reaching for the side, holding on, kicking , floating and climbing out. Then keep going, soon they will be in the pool with out you !
Play in the waves, if you have a beach near by or going to a sunny spot on a holiday , get in the water if only ankle deep. Waves can be scary especially the bigger ones. So play with them , with a wee one, hold them in the wash, dip them in and out to get used to it. For older ones let them chase you up and down. If warm enough sit in the shallows, let the wash over you. Its good for wee ones to know the sound and taste of waves. Waves can be dangerous too, so teach them to stay in the shallows and to be mindful. Its all about confidence. Again if warm enough get in and bob about.
Paddling Pool, if the weather permit, invest in one. Fill her up and invite the neighbours kids around. Hours of supervised fun hopping in and out on a hot day. I used to blow the pool up or re-blow the sagging pool up , fill with fresh water in the morning in the sun, let it heat up on its own and dump a whole lot of toys in , wee one would jump in and float around picking up toys from the bottom. I swear she was part fish and preferred being under not on top of the water.
Sprinkler , water trays and water toys, if its hot enough and you need to cool down, letting wee ones play with water is always fun, supervised pouring of one cup into another from a filled bucket ( I will always say supervised as you can drown in a small amount of water , never leave them alone ever !) Toddlers who can stand, invest in the water table with slides and shoots. think marble run with water. Bigger ones love to be brave and run through a moving sprinkler ( watering the lawn at same time ) You can get sprinklers that double as toys and shoot off in all directions and games. For the really bigger ones that have the skills, water pistols are great !! You can get wee ones that don't really get you wet to super soakers. Another fun idea is water balloons.
Water parks , You can of course get the ones with slides and rides etc. But most councils somewhere have invested in a water park, that everyone can go to for free. They usually comprise of fountains that shoot up out of the ground or overhead. Kids sit or run through them. I used to pop my wee one in a wetsuit and let her be free. ( the wetsuit verses a swim suit allows her to stay in / under /out for longer, as children get cold easily. Even on hot days
My husband has taken up kayaking, so when wee one is older she will be plopped in the middle with a life jacket on and paddled around. There is so many great options here too. boating, sailing, canyoning, paddle board and surfing that can all be done with confident older children on board.
Swimming attire, as mentioned before I am an all coverage gal. Being from New Zealand you can burn in 5 mins so its slip slop slap engrained in me. ( slip on a neck to knee suit or rash shirt, slop on suncream and slap on a hat ) So my kids being when I was a nanny or now a mammy will be covered. There are great options for all ages. Wee all in one spf suits for indoor and outdoor use. One piece or two piece. Thinner wetsuits and baby wraps for wee ones up to big ones so they don't get cold as fast. Swim nappies disposable ( boo hiss ) and reusable ( yah) You can get floats to pop baby in, arm bands, jackets with buoyancy aids that can be removed as child get more confident. I am not one to use them as I feel it gives false sense of security etc and when you teach them confidence and given them lessons , they don't need all the other stuff. For the girls , I invest in a swim cap. not those rubber ones that you had to squeeze in to like a glove , but soft material that dry quick. Girls tend to have longer hair and it gets in their eyes. No amount of hair ties and clips will stop it plastering your face when you surface. This way its under the cap and fuss free. I also got my wee ones in to wearing goggles and face masks. They love to open their eyes under water so from an age where they could , they wore goggles. It just helps with level of enjoyment with their eyes aren't puffy and sore.
I am pleased to say that after the initial trepidation of my wee one she found her fun bone and started splashing and playing again in both pool and bath. But I learned a valuable lesson or relearned that you need to keep up the coverage. She naturally warmed to the pool as it was familiar when she was little , but as an older baby, she had forgotten it and needed to be reminded, re learn her own confidence and how much fun it was. As I said in the beginning, swimming, water confidence, knowing what to do when you fall in , or even just get water in your eyes or over your head, is a skill, a part of life for most and should be taught from day dot to our wee ones. Get in the pool, in the waves, pay for the lessons and then watch so you can reinforce the instructions later. You will feel happier that your child knows what to do , how to handle them selves and to have fun in the water.