A toddler swimming about like a fish, diving and resurfacing and making about in the water as if he was born there, is a beautiful thing to see. But there are many more reasons besides that proud thrill in your heart to get your baby swimming. A toddler comfortable in and conversant with the water is much more water-safe than one who doesn’t know how to swim, and many, many lives are saved by swim lessons.
How should you go about getting your toddler swimming? It’ll take a bit of time and commitment on your part, and it’ll take frequent visits to a place where there’s water: a swimming pool, lake, or other swim-friendly place. Start by getting your toddler comfortable with the water; if he is scared or tenses up whenever he’s in the pool he will have a difficult time learning anything. Make relaxation lesson one, and then go on to basic floating exercises, basic water safety, then kicking exercises (perhaps holding on to a floating device) and then real swimming.
You can also enroll your toddler in a special toddler swim class, where a licensed instructor teaches a group of little ones to swim. You’ll probably need to be around when the class is taught-- toddlers still need lots of one on one—but having an instructor may help get through the ‘sticky bits’ of learning how to swim, especially if you’re not a wonderful swimmer yourself. Get your child comfortable with the water before you have him or her start a class, though, or you may be wasting your money on a scared, tense child who is too overwhelmed to learn.
The basic toddler swimgear is simply a swimsuit—trunks for boys, one piece or two piece outfits for little girls. One piece is often more practical and suitable for our active daughters, but two-piece does allow easier potty-breaks. A two piece with a tank top style upper section is a good compromise: your little girl gets the comfort of having her front properly covered while still being able to go to the bathroom easily. Bra-style two pieces are not ideal for little people, as they don’t have the anatomy to keep them in place.
What else should you get your budding swimmer? Goggles are nice, especially if your child doesn’t like getting his eyes wet or wants to see in the water. Sometimes goggles can make all the difference, and transform a toddler who doesn’t want to stick is head in the water to one who will go down to the bottom of the pool hunting treasures happily.
If you’re doing a lot of swimming, you may want to get a swim cap to protect your child’s hair— without protection, the constant exposure to swimming pool chlorine will dry it out and make it coarse and rough. Some swimming pools or swim classes actually require students to wear a swim cap; it’s a sanitary measure that keeps stray hairs out of the pool.
That’s all, unless you want an assortment of floating devices or pool toys. Remember though, that floating devices all have their limitations, and the best way to keep your toddler safe in the water is to be with him always—and to teach him to swim.
Have fun watching your toddler swimming!