By Water Babies Manchester (South), specialists in baby and toddler swimming, from newborn up to 5 years across Manchester.
Bath time can often be something we take for granted, and even become a daily chore with children. At worst, that ‘witching hour’ is a time you even come to dread when everyone is getting tired and cranky at the end of the day. And when we’re home all day, every day, sometimes cranky doesn’t even come close!
Bath time doesn’t have to be a chore. It can actually be a breather from the usual four walls, a time for fun play and for learning too!
I’m sure most of you will agree that building water confidence is so important with young children. Being happy and confident around water and being able to swim is a skill for life – one that opens up so many opportunities for family fun in the future, as well as one that can save a life.
The best news is, that even though swimming pools are currently shut, there’s nothing stopping you from starting your little one on a journey of water confidence – right here in your bath at home! Fun bath times and water play at home can start the building blocks of water confidence in little ones, making it so much easier to transfer to the swimming pool and swimming lessons when we’re able to get back to it!
Why not try some of these quick and easy bath time games to get you started?
Word Association – This is a great way to build their confidence in the water and something we do from day 1 in swimming lessons. Swimming under the water is very natural for little ones and we are born with lots of natural reflexes that stop us from breathing and help us move under the water. However, we always ask little ones if they want to first. Start by saying their name, are you ready?, go before taking a handful of water and gently pouring it over their face. For older children they can quickly start to do it themselves or put their face in and blow their bubbles as an alternative. Once they know what to expect, use it every time you wash their hair, and I can assure you it will help make it a tear-free activity! Take a look at our video about getting comfortable with water.
Bubble Song – Encouraging children to blow bubbles in the water is a great starting point for water confidence and swimming activities. Being able to breathe out under the water is intrinsic to swimming strokes, and put more simply – if they are blowing out in the water, they are less like to swallow it or cough on it! Make it fun and creative by getting them to blow a nursery rhyme with bubbles and you try to guess what it is! Babies cannot physically blow bubbles themselves until around 12 months but may find it very amusing watching and trying to copy you before then, so it’s never too early to start bubble fun.
Bubble Kitchen - Don’t throw away empty shampoo and bubble bath bottles – turn them into a pouring station. Add sponges and flannels and get them to make bubble pies and cakes and do the washing up. Think of it like a mud kitchen but with a lot less mess!
Number and Sorting Fun – We can learn numbers, counting and sorting skills absolutely anywhere – including the bath! Try counting bath toys out and away. Picking a number of toys and counting them out of the toy box and into the bath is a great way of learning, whilst also ensuring they don’t all get tipped in at once! Talk about the different toys and how they react in the bath. Do they sink or float? Why is that? Add a couple of Tupperware containers to the bath and ask your child to sort the
toys that sink and float – it will help them start to understand buoyancy in the water too. When you’ve counted the toys away, always ask how many are left in the bath – remember zero is a number too!
Not every child instantly loves the water and I’m pretty sure even the happiest toddler will at some point refuse the bath, so here are some ideas to help get you through those moments...
Being in water, especially at the swimming pool, can sometimes be a sensory overload. Some children are just more sensitive to their surroundings than others. Try increasing the temperature (although not more than 36 degrees for a newborn and 38 degrees for a toddler) or adding clothes! Often in the pool adding a wet suit or rash vest can help to limit the onslaught of sensory activity, helping calm little ones when they are first learning to love the water.
Put your toddler in control at bath time! My two like to choose whether they have bubbles, lots of toys or ‘a swimming pool’ if we have time for a deep bath. It generally works to get them in... as long as they agree!
Remember to use word association and gradually build their water confidence by always asking them before getting water in their faces. If they are really uncertain, let them see you happily putting your face in the bath or shower, always coming out with a big smile of course. Add lots of praise and lots of patience and you’ll soon end up with a splashy, happy, water confident family!
Water Babies are the UK’s leading provider of pre-school swimming lessons, from birth to 5 years, in warm water pools across the UK. Or lessons are currently paused due to the Coronavirus outbreak, but we’re still available to answer any questions you have and to take enquiries so you’ll be the first to hear about new lessons when we are able to resume.
@waterbabieswhitters @waterbabiesuk www.waterbabies.co.uk
0161 928 6385