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Bath-time tips for baby swimming

Over the coming months, I will endeavour to answer any general questions or concerns you may have about teaching your baby or toddler to swim. Please feel free to leave comments or ask any questions that come to mind. We would also welcome any suggestions for topics you would like TinyFins to cover.

Lets get started with an answer to the question TinyFins get asked the most before parents start baby swimming lessons:

'What can I do at bath-time to prepare my baby for swimming lessons?'

  • Keep bath-time brief...about 10 minutes max.
  • Make sure you are calm and relaxed so you can communicate this feeling to your baby.
  • >Water temperature should ideally be approx. 30-32 degrees...air temperature, 25-27 degrees.
  • Ensure the water level covers at least half of your baby's body.
  • Get in the bath with your baby so you can both enjoy skin –to-skin contact..this is a great bonding experience.
  • Lie on your back with your baby's back on your chest. Sprinkle water on baby's tummy and chest. Keep talking, reassuring and even singing to them.
  • Over time, progress to just supporting baby's head by cradling your hands under their head, their ears in the water and gently floating them in the water... eventually, with some babies you may even be able to give the barest minimum of head support..... Again, talk, and sing to them and maintain eye contact...babies often enjoy looking at you from this unusual angle!. If our baby doesn't like being on their back....the older ones don't...just keep them on their back for a few seconds....and gradually build up the amount of time over a number of weeks.
  • If they lift their legs up, gently straighten them out.
  • You can also try turning them onto their tummy...hold them in a front hold with your fingers under their armpits and your thumbs over their shoulders...the heels of your hands together with your baby's face resting on the heels of your hands.
  • Gently move them forwards and backwards horizontally on the water...again reassuring and singing to them.
  • If they are happy with the above....after a few weeks move on to gently sprinkling a little water over their head and face. Every time you sprinkle water on their face....say their 'name, ready, go' then sprinkle the water. This gives them a signal so they know when the water will be sprinkled on their face and they can start to voluntarily hold their breath as soon as they hear and register the signal.
  • Gradually increase the amount of water you sprinkle over their face. Then move on to pouring more and more water from a small plastic cup or flannel onto their face ... but always give the signal ('baby's name, ready, go') so they know when to hold their breath. This 'signal' or 'cue' is very important as it will form the basis of teaching submerging once they start their swimming lessons.
  • Get them used to the feeling of the shower spray over their head. Starting off gently and briefly, then get in the habit of giving them regular showers so they get lots of practice holding their breath.
  • After all of's time to get down to the business side of bath-time and give them a quick wash, wrap them in comfy towels, dress and feed.