One of the most looked over skills when teaching infants to swim, is holding the baby in the pool. The way the parent holds the child will have a huge bearing on how relaxed the child will be in the water. Therefore, it will determine how successful the learn-to-swim progression is.
Let Them Feel the Buoyancy
The most important thing to remember when holding babies is to let them feel their own buoyancy. They will delight at the floating sensation they will feel. By holding them softly, and sinking them down low in the water, the child is given the freedom to move. The will learn to love to exercise as they experience their natural buoyancy.
In the initial stages, parents should hold their child in a position to maintain eye contact. As the child relaxes, the parent can alternate the position to give baby good vision of the pool. They will also have a new opportunity to survey their new surrounds.
Horizontal Floating Hold
The horizontal floating hold is one of the most important holds for teaching babies to swim. It allows for good eye contact and exercise. But most importantly, it puts baby in a horizontal body position ready for submersion. This horizontal position is significant. When the baby floats, we want the water to run smoothly and evenly over the baby’s forehead. Many people make the mistake of submerging infants in a vertical position which can easily force water up the nose causing discomfort or distress.
Prone Side Hold for Holding Baby in the Pool
The prone side hold is useful to give baby good vision of the pool and the freedom to move and kick through the water with gentle assistance from the parent. In this instance parents should hold baby high under the arms so the baby’s centre of gravity is high and they don’t overbalance. A common mistake is holding baby around the lower body or rib cage where children easily overbalance and cannot relax. In this position parents should hold baby low in the water so they can feel their buoyancy but be alert and make sure to keep baby’s mouth clear of the water.
Positive Body Language When Holding Baby in the Pool
Ultimately always remember when holding infants in the pool to grip them softly and sink them down so they can feel their buoyancy. Remember your body language will rub off on the child so make sure to relax and communicate positively through verbal and non-verbal interactions.
Keep in mind that if you are happy and relaxed in the water then baby will be happy and relaxed in the water. Finally give yourself and your infant plenty of opportunities for practice. The more you get in the water with your child the more confident you will be and the more your child is exposed to water the faster they will learn and develop and love and respect for the water.