If you decide to do your own teaching at home, here is what the first lesson should consist of:
- Enter the water, holding the baby firmly in your arms. Walk around the pool. Let the baby get used to the surroundings. Take your time. Gently, with your hand, wash the baby down, and as you are walking slowly, holding the baby still firmly in your arms, lower yourself and the baby fully into the water so you are both wet up to your necks.
- Change position by holding the baby in front of you, thumbs curling around the baby’s shoulders.
- Try to cup your wrists together so the baby’s chin is resting on your wrist. This prevents the baby’s head from flopping into the water and keeps him from inadvertently drinking water.
- When you both feel comfortable, start walking backwards, constantly looking at your baby’s face, and gently bouncing the baby up and down.
- After a few minutes, change the holding position. Turning the baby on its back, place the baby’s head on your shoulder so it rests comfortably. You should be so close that you are touching cheek to cheek. Firmly, with your left hand, hold the baby’s bottom; with your right hand, support the baby’s upper body. Start walking backwards, gently bouncing and constantly talking to the baby in a reassuring voice. If you run out of things to say, you can recite a song, a poem, or what you did yesterday. It doesn’t matter what you say. It’s the tone of voice that matters.
- As the baby settles down, use your judgment as to when to lower your shoulders into the water so the baby’s ears are fully submerged. After a few minutes, pick the baby up, kiss her, and tell her, with a big smile, how clever she is.
Now comes the big step for both of you.
- Very firmly, touch and support the baby’s head under the water with your right hand. With your left hand, hold the baby’s bottom, but this time the baby will be in front of you, and the top of the head is supported by your breast. The baby is the long end of a T. Keep your face over the baby’s head and, again, slowly walk backwards, gently bouncing up and down.
By now you have three variations of exercises: facing the baby, supporting her chin; her head resting on your shoulder; and holding her out in front of you.
Repeat these three exercises, using your discretion as to how long to continue with each. Fifteen to twenty minutes in the water is enough.
Your next lessons should follow the same pattern as the first, getting wet gently, facing the baby for a short while, and then turning her on her back. This time you can introduce two more important exercises.
- Holding the baby at arm’s length, your fingers firmly around her armpits and rib cage, blow onto her face. Say “Swim,” and without hesitation gently push her vertically under the water. It shouldn’t be more than ten centimeters, or three inches, under the water. This should take a few seconds. Try to be calm, don’t rush it, don’t jerk the baby out too fast. When the baby comes up, tell her again how proud you are of her.
At this stage, don’t put the baby underwater more than three times, and certainly not one time after the other. By blowing on her face, she will hold on to her breath, and by repetition she will learn that when she hears “Swim,” she will automatically take a breath to hold the air, because she knows that she will go under the water.
The next major exercise is very important too, because this will create the major breakthrough of learning to float on her own.
- Standing still, hold the baby’s hand with one hand, and with the other support her under her back. Slowly and gently, relax your hand under the baby’s head and start stroking her head under the water. Ever so gently, take your hand away, but hold it ready in a cupped form two to three inches away from her head. In the beginning, tap and stroke her head every five to ten seconds, and when the baby gets used to the idea that she can hold her head on her own, the tappings should decrease.
Filed Under: Sports & Fitness
About the Author: By profession, Ralph Crutcher is a swimmer but enjoys playing football, Golf, and regularly goes to the gym to keep himself fit and healthy. This is one of the reasons; he likes to write about sports and fitness.