Taking your child to an outdoor or indoor pool to learn to swim is a common experience for many parents. It is important to help children feel comfortable and safe in the water, while also giving them the confidence to handle new experiences. Here are a few tips to help make a child’s first pool experience a happy one for them–and for you.
- be potty prepared
- use technology to help kids feel comfortable in the pool
- learn the pool rules
- be safe by practicing “touch supervision”
- use safe flotation devices
- be afraid of the water
- forget sunscreen
- get discouraged
- let your guard down when a child is in the pool
- underestimate the importance of learning CPR
Many toddlers are not potty trained, or are just learning how to use the toilet. To be on the safe side until your toddler is completely potty trained, use a swim diaper under your child’s swimsuit so you can help keep the pool as clean as possible. Most diaper brands also make swim diapers, so it is easy to achieve pool cleanliness.
Before going to the pool for the first time, it can be helpful to show your child what his or her pool experience will look like. Hearing the sounds of the pool and seeing the sights associated with the pool can make kids feel more at ease. There are great eBooks and applications that can walk a child through his or her first time at the pool. These allow kids to get the look and feel of the pool, take a shower before getting in the pool and have a lesson with a swim instructor.
Every public pool has a specific set of rules. These can include no running, no splashing and no yelling. Be sure to follow these rules–and teach your child the importance of safety and following rules in the pool area. Pool rules are created for the safety of everyone involved, and should be read and paid attention to by every parent and child.
Parents should teach their children to be safe in the pool. It is very important to never go in the water without an adult and to practice touch supervision–which means that an adult should be within arm’s reach of a young child at all times near a pool or any body of water.
It is vital to use a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device that fits properly. Toddlers should wear these whenever they are near water–until both children and parents are comfortable with a child’s ability to swim.
Children pick up on their parents’ feelings and emotions, so it is critical to model the behavior you want your children to emulate. Even if you are uncomfortable in the water, it is important to show your child that you can handle the situation, so they do not model your fear of the water.
Whenever you bring a child outdoors–even when they are swimming in a pool–it is extremely important to apply sunscreen. Doctors recommend that children wear sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 and reapply every 45 minutes to an hour.
Children may not take to the water right away. It is essential to remain confident and consistent in your child’s ability to pick up this activity–despite any trepidation from your child.
Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related deaths in 1- to 4-year-old children in the United States. Because children can often drown in as little as 2 inches of water, it is vital to never let your guard down when a child is in the water.
Becoming CPR certified is very important for parents because it can save the lives of their children. Most hospitals have free or inexpensive classes that teach infant and adult CPR. Maintaining a CPR certification can limit a great deal of worry and stress when your child is in the water.
Time spent at the pool can be some of the happiest experiences in a person’s life. Enjoy these moments, always stay positive, and laugh and play with your children. Pick out fun bathing suits, caps, earplugs and swim shoes, and whenever possible, bring along pool toys. Always remember to be safe and have fun.