Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Water Babies - Toddler update

When teaching your toddler to swim, the 3 most basic things to teach would be:
  • Blowing bubbles
  • Going underwater
  • Floating

Blowing bubbles

When you teach your child to blow bubbles, you’re actually teaching him to blow out the breath while underwater, which is the proper form while actually swimming. People who have never joined a real swimming lesson would say, swim a breaststroke, while holding the breath while being underwater and blow out the breath when the head breaks the water surface (like myself, before I joined a swimming class. See, even a clueless adult can get this wrong). It’s actually the reverse; you take a deep breath, dip your head into the water and blow out your breath in bubbles while underwater.

Firstly, teach your toddler to blow soap bubbles, which is great fun!

Photo courtesy of

Once he’s got the hang of it, you can try and get his face close to the water and blow something across the water, say a boat or a rubber duckie. When he’s comfortable enough, you can show him to blow bubbles underwater. You can demonstrate by taking a deep breath, put the lower half of your face into the water and blow out bubbles.

Photo courtesy of

These gradual steps ease the fear and pressure off your child, while increasing his confidence with water. Most children love to play with water, by getting your head underwater is whole different story.

Going underwater

There are basically 2 ways to go underwater, by holding your breath or by blowing out your breath (duh). In my opinion, blowing out is easier for a child than holding the breath. Some kids simply do not understand how to hold the breath! It’s better if you can make a game out of it, say holding your breath and blow out three candles at once. Or using the earlier example, hold your breath and blow a rubber duckie as far as you can across the pool.

Once he can do this, then you can teach him to hold the breath, while you pour water over his face. Another way is to hold the breath before you pour the water, and blowing out when you actually pour the water. When he masters this, then you can proceed to telling him to hold his breath, and gently dipping him in the water.

Holding the breath is one of the most basic skills needed when one learns to swim. If you have ever enrolled yourself in a swimming lesson or you’ve tried swimming on your own, the first thing you do to swim is hold your breath, head underwater, arms up and straight in front of your head and kick your legs. Teaching your toddler to hold his breath is a preparation for this, sparing him the unfortunate swallowing or inhaling water through the nose or mouth, which can be very painful and traumatic. It could even scare your child off from trying to hold his breath again.


A basic back float can be a life saver if a child accidentally falls into a pool or a lake. The key to floating on your back is to relax. Fear and panic will definitely bring him down into the water. This is why teaching a baby to float is much easier, because babies are more relaxed and feels comfortable in water, due to their previous water-like surroundings in the mother’s womb.

To ease this fear, you could help your child to float by laying him gently on his back in the pool, with his head resting on your shoulder, one of your hands on his back in the water and your other hand on his chest to make him feel more secure. When he’s confident enough in this position, you could move your hand from his chest and support the back of his head. When he’s relaxed enough, gently let go of your hands.

Okay, time to take a picture!

“Going down to the pool” has become a weekly activity for my kids. Both of them had not started swimming yet, but they certainly enjoy just being in the pool, splashing each other and play ball. My daughter, while wearing arm floats, has started floating on her back, which she practically learned on her own. I was watching my boy when my husband, who was taking photos from the side, called out. I turned around and saw her floating on her own. She has yet to learn to go without the float, though.

And there's my little boy.

Just for fun, watch these videos of my kids in the pool. Sorry about the video quality, it was taken from my 2 MP old camera phone. And please excuse yours truly yelling in the background. A mom just gets too excited sometimes. Heh.


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