Here at Konfidence, we are proud to work with the STA, a national governing body for swimming, and for Baby Week (14th – 20th November) we asked Kaylë Brightwell, the STA’s Director of Education, some key questions about baby swimming, the importance of water familiarisation and how babies learn key water safety skills. This is what Kaylë said.
Why is swimming so important for young children?
Baby swimming lessons are fantastic, and taking them from an early age as possible means you’re introducing them to exercise and encouraging a healthy lifestyle, right from the start. A weekly swim session will also help them develop physically, emotionally and mentally – and will teach them water safety skills.
Can babies learn water safety skills?
Yes. Babies who swim on a regular basis develop a respect for water and can potentially be taught water safety skills, such as turning onto their backs, floating or, swimming back to the side and holding on. And these key safety and safe hold skills that are taught in lessons, kick in from remarkably early on, with children as young as two demonstrating these skills independently.
What's the best way to build confidence in the water?
The bath is the best place to help babies and young children get used to the feeling of the water. Bath time will help them acclimatise to the water in their own comfortable surroundings, and is the first natural step towards swimming lessons.
What can I do if my child is scared and refuses to get in the pool - how can I help them get over their fear of water?
It's best to gently introduce them to warm water, in a calm, nurturing environment, from as early as possible. Children can pick up on emotions, so try to stay relaxed and use gentle supportive holds to help reassure them they are safe and your there to support them. Often as a new parent you may well be unsure of what to do - and local pools can be a bit chilly - so joining a baby swimming class is a good alternative as the majority of swim schools will teach in a lovely warm pool. Here you'll also be able to socialise with other parents and babies and you'll find there's a lot of support for the two of you.
There's also plenty you can do at home to help your baby. Share a bath with them, gently lying back with them on your chest and trickling water over their tummy and limbs (but not their face at this stage). If you show your baby, you're really enjoying sharing the experience, they'll pick up on this and start enjoying it more too.
It’s also worth remembering that your baby won’t have been born with a fear of water – it will be other issues that might be unsettling them. Perhaps they don’t like feeling enclosed in the bath, or haven’t enjoyed the change in temperature. Try alternating your bath time routine a bit and see if that helps. And don’t forget to wrap them up in a lovely warm towel once bath time is over to keep them nice and toasty!
What is a fun way to encourage them to get in the pool?
It’s important to make sure your first visit is a positive, gentle introduction to this multi-sensory world.
If you are starting lessons, try to take your baby along to the pool before the first session. Spend time on the side getting them used to the noises, colours, splashing and general hubbub of the pool environment - these will all be much louder than at home! When you get in the pool for the first time, smile and talk to your baby – show them by example that it’s safe and fun! Maybe take along their favourite bath toys - the familiarity of those toys will give your baby a feeling of safety in the new setting and can make the first transition from the bath to the pool much smoother.
It’s really important that you are calm and positive as they’ll take their cues from you. Get your shoulders under the water and hold your baby so the water covers their chests. Through the session, try alternating between holding them very close, with lots of reassuring skin-to-skin contact, then at arm’s length when you are feeling confident so they can move freely and feel a bit more independent.
Babies tire easily in the water, so keep your first visit to around 20-30 minutes and keep them warm. Afterwards, they may be hungry and ready for a relaxing sleep – definitely an added bonus to a successful trip!
What should I take to baby swimming lessons?
This is an easy one for us to answer at Konfidence! First and foremost, you need to be prepared for little accidents, and most swim schools will specify a double nappy system – we would recommend our swim-school approved Splashy™ Nappy (which is uniquely made from our e-Flex™ material) is worn over our reusable Splashy AquaNappy™. Plus, by choosing our Splashy™ swim nappies, which are both made from recycled materials, you will also be doing your bit for the environment, as they are the most environmentally-friendly swim nappy duo available on the market!
Next if you are unsure of water temperatures, particularly in public pools, you should look at our multi-award-winning Splashy™ Swimsuit made from e-Flex™, which we created in collaboration with swim schools and parents to help keep babies aged from 3 months toasty warm in the pool for longer. Water temperatures should be no less than 30 degrees for baby swimming.
Another very useful item to take is one of our Splashy™ Roll & Go Changer Mats. The changers, which are chlorine resistant, provide a comfortable and secure surface for babies to lie in the changing room or on poolside when you are getting in to the water.
And of course, you will need towels - Kaylë recommends you take three, one for you and two for your baby – toiletries and a healthy snack and drink for afterwards.
Any other advice Kaylë?
Have fun and enjoy the special bonding time between you and your baby.
To celebrate Baby Week, which runs from the 14th – 20th November, we are also running a special baby swimming offer. With every Splashy™ Swimsuit purchased at www.konfidence.co.uk, you will be able to get a 40% discount on all our baby swimming essentials, including the Splashy™ Nappy, Splash AquaNappy™ and Splashy™ Roll & Go Baby Changer.