Tip: Never leave a child unattended in the pool, no matter how confident a swimmer they are.
Getting familiar with the water
For babies and toddlers, early swimming experiences can be hit or miss, with some children downright refusing to get in the water. The key is not to push it. As you’re on holiday, it’s likely you’ll have the opportunity to try again without stressing or rushing your child. Take baby steps (literally) with your little one and gradually get them closer to the water, from sitting on the side to dipping toes in, without taking them out of their comfort zone.
Distract them from their fear
Think about what your child loves to play with in the bath. Squirty toys? Tipping pots? Rubber ducks? Transfer these to your pool holiday and get a family member to play with them enthusiastically – you might just find your little one wants to join you. For toddlers and pre-schoolers, water pistols provide an unprecedented level of excitement – especially when they receive an over-exaggerated reaction to being soaked. Pop one in their hands, ask them to gently squirt a willing victim in the pool, and stealthily move your child down a pool step or further into the water.
Letting go – floating with buoyancy aids
Once you’re in the pool with your child and they’re happily splashing in your arms, let them build their confidence. Swoosh them around in the water, sing songs with them and act out their favourite nursery rhymes. Don’t try to unclasp their grip from you just yet. When you know they’re ready (be it shortly after their first pool experience or weeks after) the next step is to move them from your arms. Buoyancy aids such as armbands and float vests will help your little one float in the water safely and independently, make the transition fun and easy.
Consider these great buoyancy aids:
Age 0-2 : Small babies don’t have the control or stability to float by themselves unsupported, so if your child is under one or between 1-2 years old, consider getting them in an inflatable Speedo Swim Seat. Fully supported, they will have a great upright view and can enjoy floating around the pool safely without missing out on family fun.
Tip: Don’t forget to praise your child as they make progress. Never underestimate the power that cheers and compliments have on their growing confidence.
Getting their faces wet
Even confident water-babies can find the thought of getting their faces wet, or putting them underwater, unappealing. If your child really hates getting their face splashed, familiarise them with it before your holiday with games in the bath. (If they’re a baby, gently trickle water down their face while you bathe them.) Back in the pool on holiday, why not help them become more confident when submerging their face by challenging them to a water-blowing contest? Just ask your child to blow bubbles on the surface of the water and make it fun. Goggles can help to encourage your child’s underwater confidence while Dive Toys provide them with the incentive to take a peek underwater at the pool floor.
Building their swim confidence with pool games
Pool games are great for building both a love of swimming and confidence in the water. Go for themes you know your child will be excited by – that could be a pirate game, where ‘treasure’ is collected from points around the pool, or maybe an imaginary game of mermaids. Chasing, racing and dive games always prove popular and most children love to play with inflatable animals and foam noodles.
Let your imagination run riot for maximum family pool fun!
Check out our Learn to Swim range for more products designed to help your little one develop their love of swimming.
Looking for more pool game inspiration that older children can enjoy too? Why not read our Pool games to keep your kids entertained feature here.