Teaching your child how to swim can be life-saving. Drowning is a leading cause of childhood deaths, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. USA Swimming reports that children who know how to swim are less likely to drown. Helping your child swim has other benefits as well. Swimming can help your child stay active and is unlikely to cause any injuries to your child. Children who learn how to swim gain self-esteem, coordination and strength, according to USA Swimming. Many communities have classes to help your child become a confident swimmer, or you can teach your child on your own.
Bring your child to a pool or other body of water as young as 1 year old as often as you can. Although your infant won’t be able to learn how to swim just yet, it is important to help her feel comfortable in the water. The more time you can spend with your child in water, the more confident she will feel.
Blow bubbles in the water with your child. This is a fun way to get your child to feel comfortable putting his face in the water. Instruct your child to place his mouth in the water and exhale. Gradually encourage your child to submerge his nose, his eyes and forehead until his whole head is underwater.
Show your child how to breathe in before going under and exhale while her head is under the water. Practice with your child until she can do this without swallowing water.
Encourage your child to float on his back. Hold him on the surface of the water with your hands on his back. Have your child straighten his legs and arms and relax. Slowly take your hands away and see how long your child can hold the position. Floating is another way that your child can feel more confident in the water.
Push off the pool wall and glide through the water with your child as a straightening exercise. She can do this with her head above the water or underwater. Make a game of it by seeing how far your child can get before she has to put her feet down.
Teach your child how to kick before showing him full swim strokes. Have your child hold on to the side of the pool or a kickboard. Show him how to kick his legs up and down to move forward. Have races with the kickboard to make it a fun learning experience.
Show your child swim strokes, such as freestyle, breast stroke or backstroke. Your child will be able to mimic your movements and learn how to swim. Encourage her to continue to practice the strokes to gain confidence and better coordination.
- Consider enrolling your child in swim lessons. Children between the ages of 1 and 4 who take formal swimming lessons are 88 percent less likely to drown, according to Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, as reported by USA Swimming.
- Never leave your child unattended near water. Infants, toddlers and weak swimmers should always be within an arm's length of a supervising adult with swimming skills.
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