Teach Your Child To Swim - Part 1 of 6

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Getting Used to the Water

Never leave your child unattended around water, even if they know how to swim!

Make sure your child knows these basic safety rules:

  1. Never go near or in the water without an adult.

  2. Don't dive or jump into the water unless you know how deep it is.

  3. Don't run near the edge of the pool.

  4. Always do what the lifeguard tells you.

More safety rules

Small children can drown in an inch of water. Always supervise children when you are near water.

If your child can't yet swim a length of the swimming pool, you should be within an arm's length at all times.

If there is a lifeguard at the beach, only swim in the designated areas. If there is no lifeguard, look out for flags or signs that will tell you if some areas are unsafe. Ask locals for advice about where to swim. Rip tides (when a current prevents you from getting back to shore) often can't be seen from the shore and are extremely dangerous.

Drink plenty of water. Swimming makes you very thirsty.

You can start introducing babies as young as six months to water, but make sure they are wearing waterproof nappies at a public swimming pool

Take the time to learn some basic first aid and CPR (mouth-to-mouth). The Red Cross offers short courses around the country.

If your child goes to swimming lessons with a qualified instructor, the instructor should be trained in first aid.

Before you start

Explain to older children that it's important to learn how to swim so that they are safe around water.

Get your younger child used to water in the bath. Trickle water over his head and encourage him to put his head under water.

Make your child feel comfortable around water at the swimming pool. She can begin by sitting on the edge of the pool with her feet dangling in. Then she can get into the water at the shallow end, where she can stand up, holding onto you.

Blow bubbles underwater. Take a big breath, put your mouth underwater then exhale on the surface. Try 'talking' underwater and see if you can understand each other.

Your child may cry the first time he goes into the water. Hold him close to make him feel safe. Try to distract him so he'll get used to the water: talk soothingly, sing a song or take a toy into the water to play with.

Water wings (also known as arm bands) can give children a false sense of security in the water and prevent them from learning to swim. But they can be useful at the beginning to get them used to splashing around in the water.

Learning to swim is thirsty work! Your child will need a drink and a snack. Sunny-D is the perfect post-swimming treat.

Next month… Learning to Float and Kick