Top Tips to Teach Your Toddler to Swim

Having a pool in your backyard comes with a lot of responsibility, especially if you have small children. If you have a toddler, you want to teach them how to swim as soon as possible. There are certain tips you want to keep in mind so you know you’re teaching them to swim the right way, without instilling a fear of the water in them. Follow our top tips to teach your toddler to swim with confidence:

baby in water

Keep your kid informed

The first thing you want to do when you teach your toddler to swim is to build their confidence and not scare them. This is why it’s important you explain everything to them before you put anything into practice. You don’t want to throw in any unpleasant surprises!

Not only will giving these explanations ahead of time help your child feel secure; it will also help them fully understanding why they are doing something. For example, knowing holding their breath will stop them from swallowing water is encouragement enough for your child to do as you advise!

Be sure to count down before doing anything with your child so they’re fully prepared. If you want them hold their breath while you dunk them underwater, explain what will happen to them and then count down (3, 2, 1) before proceeding.

Get them comfortable underwater

The more comfortable you can get your toddler with the idea of being submerged, the easier it will be to teach them to swim. Make it fun! You can lay toys on the bottom steps and have them hold their breath to pick them up.

You can also hold them in your arms and count down with them, letting them know the two of you are going to dip under the water for a second together.

Return to the steps

Having an escape is crucial to building your children’s confidence in the pool. One of the best things you can teach your child is how to return to safety. Instructing them how to find the side of the pool and hold the wall to reach the steps is an invaluable lesson.

You want them to know there’s a safe place for them to go if they ever fall in the pool or tire while they’re swimming.

You can make this part fun by racing them back to the steps. But be sure you always stay right next to them and let them win the race.

Float on their back

Aren’t you glad you know how to float on your back and enjoy the blissful feeling of weightlessness? Teach your toddler the same joy.

It can be scary for kids at first, so be patient. Support your child in your arms and teach them how to relax, breathe, and stick their tummy out. Support them until they have it down and then pull your arms away slightly so they’re floating on their own.

When you’re teaching them to float on their back, you never want to bring your arms down too far in case your child starts to sink. They need to know you are going to catch them right away.

The Glide

Hold your child about a metre from the steps with one arm over their chest and one on their wrist.

Encourage them to glide with their face down in the water and their arms stretched out in front of them. Don’t let go of them until they’ve got it downpat. Let them know when you’re going to push them and let go so they don’t get surprised and caught off-guard.

The Doggy Paddle

Once your child has learnt gliding, teach them leg and arm movements. Stay right by them during this lesson and be prepared to take some kicks in your stomach during the process!

Prepare them for the unexpected

You want your toddler to know just what to do if they accidentally fall in the pool. Once they’ve built their confidence and know how to doggy paddle, stand in the pool and encourage the kids to jump into the water near you.

Show them how to flip around and doggy paddle to the side, then make their way to the steps by holding on to the wall.

Practice, practice, practice

Now your little tyke has the basics down, it will be all about practising and improving. You’ll never want to leave your toddler alone or be more than a metre away from them, even once they know how to swim.

The best part of teaching your kids to swim is the reward of seeing them embrace the water, and build their confidence every day. Soon, they’ll be begging for pool time and who knows, maybe one day you’ll have the next Ian Thorpe or Susie O’Niell on your hands!

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