With the right safety precautions in place, toddlers can learn to love water play!

“Children need to learn to swim,” says Dr. Jeffrey Weiss, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

While no method ever eliminates the dangers of water entirely, introducing your toddler to pools with four-sided gates and under constant supervision can be a great way to enhance their motor skills and cool off in the summer months!

The American Red Cross provides a Parent and Child Aquatic Class for children ages 6 months-3 years that introduces children to elementary swimming skills in two stages:

  • In Level 1, children learn basic skills through fun activities, such as blowing bubbles and playing with water toys.
  • In Level 2 parents work with their children to practice floating, kicking and swimming back to the side of the pool. (for more information or to find a class, click here.

Some general tips for working with your toddler on swimming skills at home are as follow:

  • Don’t wear sunglasses: your child needs to see your eyes and connect with you to assuage any fear or anxiety at being in the water.
  • Play on the steps! With your child in a life jacket, play on the pool steps and practice going up and down until your child is comfortable.
  • Blow bubbles! Show your child
    how to lean their face into the water and blow bubbles. If this frightens your child, wait until your they are ready.
  • Use a toy that sinks and let your child practice dropping and retrieving it from the steps.
  • Never submerge your child’s head in the water, allow your child in or near water alone, or force your child to advance in a swimming skill that clearly frightens them. Follow their cues for when they are ready!

Keep in mind that all of your child’s swimming skills should come at their own pace! Always follow Red Cross and AAP guidelines for water safety and have a blast!