Country Child have teamed up with Puddle Ducks Dorset to give you some of their top tips for taking your toddlers swimming.
Puddle Ducks teaches children across the UK to swim independently and beautifully, and to love and respect the water. Learning life skills and water safety to over 16,000 children, aged 0-10 years, every week. Locally, Puddle Ducks Dorset had been based in the area for over 8 years, with a range of venues across Dorset and the New Forest.
Here they take you through a few tips that they use and advise parents to do, to ensure they have a great experience in the pool!
So many aspects of life are improved by teaching your toddler to swim; family holidays are more enjoyable, you and your toddler will meet people and make friends plus there are many physical and mental benefits to swimming. Don’t be put off by timings, 15-30 minutes in the pool will be enough for their first time – you know your toddler best!
Structured session or a dip in the local pool?
Lots of parents love the idea of taking their toddler swimming but either they aren’t confident swimmers themselves or feel as though they don’t know how to teach their child to swim correctly. This can end up in a disappointing or frustrating experience for both toddler and parent. Many swimming classes exist, which have clear structure, including some underwater swimming (this is perfectly safe in the controlled environment of a reputable swim school). You may find this is a more enjoyable way to take your toddler swimming. The best swim classes provide an enriching environment for the parent and toddler to strengthen their bond and create happy memories associated with the water and learning to swim.
Make sure you have everything you need
If your toddler is still in nappies, you should use a double nappy system i.e. a disposable or reusable swim nappy with a neoprene over-nappy or ‘Happy Nappy’ to prevent any accidents from leaking into the pool. You will also need a change mat, some snacks and drinks, toys for the water and some warm clothes and a big fluffy towel for when you get out of the pool! We recommend woggles (or noodles) over armbands as they do not disrupt your child’s natural buoyancy and alignment in the water, stick two smaller woggles under each arm for toddlers when they are ready, so they can swim independently and feel their buoyancy in the water. You can read more advice from Puddle Ducks regarding the use (or not) of goggles, arm bands, floats and woggles.
Choose the right pool
We recommend taking your toddler to a pool with a temperature of at least 29°c, that is clean and well managed; just give them a call prior to your visit to make sure. You need to think carefully about the pool environment, as a cold pool is enough to put a baby or toddler off swimming. Lots of local pools have a ‘baby’ pool which is usually warmer and shallower than the main pool. Bear in mind the air temperature once you’re out of the pool, you want it to be warm.
If you cannot find a local pool that is warm enough you can buy a thermal set for your child or a mini wetsuit to ensure your little ones stay warm in the water. You also need to think about the amenities at the pool, is there enough space in the changing rooms, do you need money for the locker or parking? Research this type of thing prior to your visit to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Research activities you can do in the pool together
It is such a better experience for you all if you have some idea of what to do with your toddler once you are in the water. If you are keen on taking your toddler swimming outside of a structured class then there are lots of online videos which can help you to make the most of your time in the pool and productive as possible, while having fun. We have lots of videos to give you some great ideas and tips on our YouTube Channel – www.youtube.com/puddleducks.
With babies and toddlers, you need to remember that you shouldn’t carry them down steps or a ladder into the water. The reason for this is if you slip, you’re going to take your child with you, which we don’t recommend at all. What we do recommend is a changing mat, which you can get wet. Get the changing mat wet in the water first and then lay it on the side of the pool right next to the surface of the water. You can then kneel down and sit or lie your child (head furthest away from the pool) on the changing mat. This stops them going straight onto the cold concrete on the side of the pool, which isn’t a great introduction to their first time into the water. You can then sit down next to them, put one arm across your child (this is your safety arm) and then you can then gently slide into the water yourself, turning as you do so. Once you’re in the water, gently lean your child towards you and bring them in towards the water, safely.
If you decide to join a structured session, all this is taken care of for you plus you have a teacher in the water with you to help you with the details and ensure safety – definitely advisable for any parents who struggle with their confidence in the water. Plus, there is a small group of parents and children, so you can all learn together, make friends and the children can watch and learn from one another too. It’s so rewarding to see your child progress each week.
And finally… enjoy the calm after as your toddler hits the hay for a nice big snooze!
For more information on your nearest classes, prices and times please look at our website www.puddleducks.com/dorset give us a call on (01202) 674676 or email firstname.lastname@example.org