Let’s talk about bathtime. Some kids LOVE bathtime and some kids dread it. Likewise, swim lessons for your young swimmer can be hit or miss depending on their experience and confidence in the water. No matter where your child falls on the water spectrum, bathtime can go hand in hand with swim lessons to make both an enjoyable experience for you and your child.
How? Bathtime is often a child’s first experience in the water. It also can set the stage for their water expectations – from the temperature to the depth and toys. Babies and toddlers will start with very little water in the tub, the water is typically very warm and they often have lots of things to “do” while they are bathing. The pool (and swim lessons) can present a very different set of circumstances – the water is deep(er), the temperature is colder and toys may or not be an option.
So, how do we bridge the gap and use bathtime to support swim lessons? Well, first make the bath experience enjoyable. Since this is their most frequent experience in water, it should be something they enjoy. If they don’t, try to troubleshoot the issue. Is the water too cold? Too warm? Do they need bubbles, or fun toys, or a parent to be in the tub, too? Whatever you can do to support bathtime and make it “fun”, go for it! Remember, you’re setting the stage for their experience in the pool.
Next, help them experience the feeling of water on their heads by gently sprinkling or drizzling warm water on them. You can use a bath toy, a kitchen colander or your hands cupped with water. Whatever is easy!
Once your child is used to having their head get wet, encourage them to try blowing bubbles or dunking their head under the water. These first steps will help them prepare for their swim lessons and make it less intimidating and stressful when they are in the water with an instructor.
Finally, make sure you let them have fun while they’re in the tub. We are all busy, and sometimes bathtime is a quick job of washing hair and bodies and getting out. But, if you have a little extra time, use it to play! Make the water a place your child enjoys spending time. The more fun and comfortable they are in the water, the more likely they will be to begin to experiment with water. Maybe they’ll pour a cup of water on their head! Maybe they’ll stick their face in! Kids have a way of exploring their surroundings, and bathtime is a great opportunity to let them explore water in a safe, monitored environment.
No matter what, safety always comes first. Make sure your child isn’t left alone in the bathtub, and always, always be watching what they are doing while in the tub.
We hope these ideas help your little swimmer prepare for class – and we’ll see you at the pool!