It’s far, far from swimming season, we know. (In fact, let us take a second to dry our tears.) But just because the neighborhood pool is iced over that doesn’t mean you can’t practice water safety all year long. I’ve always used bath time as an opportunity to teach water safety to my kids, so when Sue Mackie, executive director of the United States Swim School Association offered up these tips I jumped at the chance to include them here. The bath is the perfect way to get your kids feeling confident in the water and you can teach them water safety techniques that will help them in the big pool, too. And the best part is that you can start as soon as your child is ready to take his or her first bath!
How to Teach Water Safety at Bath Time
1. Showers work, too. Do not rely on plastic baby tubs as the only bath-time option. Showering with baby can help accustom him/her to the feeling of water splashing down his/her face and help with learning to breathe in water.
2. Floating fun. Fill a regular bathtub with enough water so you can hold your baby in it and float baby on his/her back. Hold baby behind the shoulders and cup the head so baby can’t turn his or her mouth into the water. This will help baby learn how it feels to have water in his/her ears and teach that it is possible to breathe in the water when doing a back float.
3. Warning! Before you pour water over your baby’s head and into his or her eyes and ears, give a cue that the water is about to come splashing down. This helps stop babies from being startled and associating water on their faces with being scared and uncertain.
4. Teach control. Blowing bubbles helps babies learn they are in control of their breath and makes them comfortable with putting their face in water. Teach children to blow bubbles on cue and make it fun by blowing different types of bubbles.
Thanks to Sue for sharing! Do you teach water safety at bath time? I do at every opportunity. I remember when I took my oldest to baby swim class and we’d get to dunk them underwater. To this day, my daughter still loves the water! —Erin