Updated: Jun 7, 2022
Bath time is a great way to extend play-time. An opportunity for your toddler to gain water confidence through exploring and investigating whilst in the bath! As well as practicing those transferrable skills learned during swimming lessons to bath time.
Do you have a child that doesn't really like being in the water? Do you have battles with trying to get them in the water? Perhaps they don't like having water on their faces!
This post will give you some great tips and ways to positively encourage your children to start enjoying the water, and it starts with bath-time.
I have always thought of bath time as another opportunity for more play. A time to
spend extra quality time together. To have more giggles and laughter. A time for more songs to sing and stories to read. (Read my blog "Bath time activities" for some ideas). Bath time is also a perfect opportunity for active learning which can be transferred to the swimming pool!
My son, Harry is 3 years old now and just loves having a bath. Bath time should be a positive and fun experience and can be used (if done properly) an extension to learning the skills of swimming as well.
What can I do?
It doesn't happen every time and I would just roll with it but having your child lie on their belly and practice to kick is very useful to transfer to the swimming pool. Their senses are being triggered when having a positive experience doing it at home in a safe and controlled environment so this familiar action will not be as scary when asked to do it during lessons.
Starting with exploration of the water using water wheels, rain drop cups and squirty toys are always a great starting point. Let your child play with these themselves. Once they become more aware and familiar with the motion and feel of the water, encourage them to sprinkle the water over their own heads taking a breath first. If they are not 100% sure please don't force them, you can try doing it for them by singing "It's raining it's pouring" & using a cue - "are you ready, 1,2,3 breath" then sprinkle the water from the back of the head forward. When the water runs over their face just have them wipe their own eyes and distract them with a toy.
Now that they are comfortable with the water you can progress to breath control. This means; taking a breath and blowing out a few times continuously. A very important skill for swimming. PLEASE NOTE: A swimmer should NOT hold their breath for an extended period of time whilst swimming.
Putting loads of bubbles in the bath water is good as they can do kinds of things with them such as make bubbles beards or bubble face masks. Harry loves looking at himself in the mirror to see where the bubbles are on his face. The other day he was Father Christmas with a bubble beard lol
I have also used treasure hunts which are fun. Put some plastic coins in the bath that sink to the bottom and they can try finding them.
Another good one is searching for fish. Adding sinking fish to the water and they use a hoop as a magnifying glass to search for them.
Always use the cues for them to practice so they remember once in the swimming pool. "Breath and blow out".
If they are unsure about faces down, try lips in first, then nose, then forehead. You can also have them put a bubble mountain on their hand and with a big breath see how much they can blow off their hand.
Harry has always been a little unsure on his back (most children are at first) so bath time is a great place for him to become more confident and get used to the feeling of being on his back.
Before Harry wanted to do it on his own, I would hold his head for support until he relaxed then removed my hand slowly asking him to open his eyes (place your head in the way of the light so it doesn't blind them) and either sing or chat whilst washing his hair.
The more he did this in bath time the more he was comfortable doing it in the swimming pool.
For babies/young toddlers bath time is perfect for them to splash and just play. I am afraid you will need to put loads of towels down on the floor as the wetter it is the better.
The bath is not just a place to wash and clean your child. It's a perfect opportunity to play and explore which helps them practice and become familiar with the essential skills needed for a confident and strong swimmer.