It’s never too soon to start thinking about water safety for your kids. What should you expect when you’re teaching your six- to eighteen-month-old to swim?
What You Can Expect
- Developing comfort in the water
- Some conceptual understanding of movement in the water
What You Shouldn’t Expect
- Independent Swimming
- Water Safety
How to Teach Infants to Swim
The most important things you can do when your child is this age:
- Make sure the environment is safe
- Give him plenty of experience in the water
Kids this age are too young to understand the danger of drowning, and they’re too young to coordinate their bodies well enough to truly swim. Just think about how they move on land. At the younger end of the range, they’ve just started crawling. At the older end, they’re toddling around. Their mental and physical development doesn’t give them the ability to swim at this point.
At this age—as at every age—making sure that they’re well supervised whenever they’re near or in water and that any pool is secured with an appropriate fence are the most important ways to keep them safe.
Once that’s taken care of, you can practice getting comfortable and learning to move in the water. You can progress to getting your child’s face wet, gliding, and floating. With enough practice, your kids will be able to toddle around in the pool as well as they do on land.
A Word about Infant Swimming
There are programs that work to teach kids this age to hold their breath underwater and flip onto their backs to float. Use common sense. Until they’re cognitively and physically ready to swim, this kind of training is unlikely to hurt them*, but only supervision will keep them safe.
Fall has come to the San Francisco Bay Area. Today is grey and drizzly, with the scent of fallen leaves in the air. Until spring, I’ll be posting three times a week and using the off days to drink hot cocoa and sit by the fire.
*There are risks associated with using infant swimming training, including the possibility that an infant will aspirate water. Use common sense. When in doubt, err on the side of caution.