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Summer officially began yesterday, but for many of us “summer” has been in swing for weeks or even months now, which hopefully means lots and lots of beneficial swimming! Our swimming program has been on again, off again since April, but lately has been going great with fabulous progress from both of my boys (ages 1 and 7). I use the techniques as outlined in the Doman book How to Teach Your Baby to Swim – Birth to Age 6. The program emphasizes learning swimming skills, water safety, water hygiene, and bonding with parents.
This 6-12 month old program is the second level of the Doman swimming program (first level is 0-6 months). There are a lot more things covered in the first level of the program, but if you have an older baby and are just now beginning, you can jump right into this level of exercises after you first work on getting your baby comfortable in water and knowing how to hold their breath underwater. This is an important exercise as it is not only laying the foundation for diving later on, but you are also teaching your baby how to safely enter the pool.
In the beginning you will need to have him hold your fingers with his hands and very gently pull him in. Blowing bubbles in the water is a great way to teach your baby to hold his breath if he’s not yet accustomed to it. A final exercise in learning to hold his breath will be to go underwater together completely.
Once your baby is comfortable holding his breath underwater, you can begin to teach him the swimming motions by passing him under the water. Next begin to walk backwards in the pool while holding baby by his sides in front of you (see above picture). If he doesn’t fully swim to you, pull him towards you and then lift him out of the water. Walking backwards before you let him go under creates a current and will make it easier for baby to swim to you! As some encouragement for you, here is a video of my baby I took two days ago of him swimming underwater.
Please subscribe to get more posts on teaching your newborn, toddler, and older children how to swim, as well as articles about water safety, scheduling, tips, and more! The book I use to teach my kids how to swim – dozens of exercises for a newborn to a six-year-old. I really do not know much about the quality of paid-for lessons for this age and whether or not they would help your child.
Whatever technique you try, just do it very slowly and for only a split second, and be sure to always use the same phrase to warn him when he is about to go under (i.e. As for the him sinking to the bottom in this video, yes that is correct, but this video was taken not very long after he began swimming underwater by himself like this. In the meantime, I plan to continue to exercise extreme parental supervision, particularly when there is any risk of access to bodies of water, as I believe ALL parents should ALL the time, no matter what kind of training their child has. I do appreciate your input though, I actually was writing a post about IRS and it should be up soon!
I’m thankful for the perspective of this post and excited to try some new techniques with my daughter.
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (002274) Details - Rainbow Resource Center, Inc. When you aren’t holding your baby (because you are attending to other children, swimming yourself, etc), keep your baby in the water and close by in their own flotation device. Make Your Own Mini PB&J Finger Foods Perfect For Toddlers Learning To Feed Themselves! In this post, I would like to share with you the exercises I have been using with Damien (12 months) over the past few weeks to teach him how to swim! It is actually about teaching your baby to swim, by themselves, beginning at birth or any time thereafter (newborns are born knowing how to swim). If he is accustomed to going underwater, let him jump in and go under and then pull him up to the surface or let him kick and swim up to the surface.
It will teach him to blow out, not breath in, while his mouth is underwater, and will also help him to get comfortable with his face in the water. Think of a phrase to use, such as “1,2,3, under!” that means he is about to go under the water, and use it every time without fail!
Do this for just a split second at first and you will gradually be able to stay under longer. Start by doing the bobbing up and down exercise or the passing underwater exercise, but briefly let go of him while he is underwater.
Most babies will be able to float on their backs long before they are able to lift their heads out of the water. At first hold your baby completely so he feels secure, but gradually decrease the amount of support you give him until eventually he will hopefully be able to float on his own. Consistently using specific words, phrases, or even songs for each exercise will teach your baby what to expect and spur his success. The child is all smiles the entire time we’re in the pool but becomes very upset whenever I try this with him.

Have baby grab the edge of the pool and let him hang on with as little support from you as possible. Give him a little push or let him push off of your hands as needed, by try to let him do as much as possible by himself. Strongly emphasize from day one that baby may never, never enter the pool without you first giving the signal and being right there. If your baby does not enjoy the water at all, do not try and do these exercises until he is comfortable in water. If it makes anybody feel better, just a few weeks ago he hated putting his face in the water and would often swallow water whenever I put him under!
I tried to take a swimming class with my son when he was 6 months and it was a big disappointment.
I strongly discourage having children hold their breath underwater – it’s an extremely hard habit to break when they get older! You brought up some interesting points, such as why blowing in the water might not be a good idea. From what I understand of the program, the main goal is survival and the lessons are very one-track: teach baby how to get to their back to float and breath, so that they can save themselves if they were to ever fall in.
From my understanding and what I have seen of their lessons on the web, the tactics used in IRS are somewhat aggressive and usually involve the baby crying and panicking. Also, from my understanding, the only goal for IRS for children under the age of 1 is to teach them how to float and save their own lives. While I do admire IRS, I don’t think that it is necessarily possible for all 6-12 month olds to be capable of floating by themselves (and I do believe that they admit this, also).
As I mentioned in the comments above the video, just a few days later he was doing much better at staying towards the surface and wasn’t going straight towards the bottom yet. With infant swimming I do believe there is more than one right way, and the Doman method just has different goals and techniques, but safety can still be achieved using Doman.
I would hope that every parent, everywhere would never become complacent with their child around water. I started swimming lessons very young myself and my mom did the blow-in-the-face technique to get me used to being underwater.
The earlier you start introducing baby to the water, the less likely they are to fear it later. Begin teaching your baby that having water on their face is okay by pouring water over their head as you wash them up and letting it go on their face. Rather than removing baby from the pool while you are doing other things you can keep your baby IN the pool and keep your arms free, letting them explore and play with the water around them. Keep the positive experience going by introducing fun pool toys to engage with in the water.
Babies get cold quickly and after about 30 minutes, even in a warm pool, they may get chilly.
Gradually, over the course of time, get deeper and deeper, first getting just his mouth a little wet with each bob, then submerging his entire mouth, then up past his nose, finally you will get to where his entire face and then entire body goes under with each bob. You can either hold him straight out in front of you (as above) or sideways in front of your, or by your side.
This may startle him at first to feel his own weight floating in the water without your hands supporting him!
Begin with just split second swim sessions and gradually lengthen the time baby stays underwater as you sense his capabilities.
I just introduce it in short little bursts and don’t push it when I see he is not enjoying himself. When my son was very tiny we also did the blowing-on-face technique to get him to hold his water in the tub, but by this spring he had forgotten and I had to reteach. I do see a lot of value in this method, but for me personally it is not the one I chose for my kids. I am also working with him on back floating and flipping onto his back from different positions, as I mentioned in this post. For me personally, I know that the fact that my child loves swimming and water makes me even MORE cautious. Apparently I’d sometimes swallow too much water and vomit but the end result was that I loved swimming and was great at it. There are better, safer and more appropriate ways to teach your baby how to love the water, acclimate to it and learn how to float and swim.
Here are 5 must have tips for introducing your baby to the water and beginning their lessons in learning to swim! Your baby’s introduction to the water will set the tone for their lifelong relationship with water and swimming, you want this to be a positive experience! Be sure to NEVER have the baby out of arm’s reach and ALWAYS keep your eyes on the baby!!
Keep a shade over their head like the one on SwimWays baby spring float and keep them lathered up with sunscreen! If your baby is scared or unsure don’t push them and create a negative experience with water for them.

National Learn to Swim Day is May 16, 2015 and is a great way to kick off summer safely by encouraging your children to learn to swim safely. She is a Registered Nurse currently staying home with her four children while her husband works full time. The goal will be to be able to swim to the edge and hang on by himself, and then to eventually be able to hang on and climb out of the pool.
Always be enthusiastic, happy, and full of laughter and excitement, even if your baby might be timid. If he does not like something, do the exercise for just a split second and then praise him profusely. He now kicks his little feet and swims farther and longer underwater, and he also no longer nose dives to the bottom of the pool but stays relatively near the surface! My son is two and a half now and I can’t wait to try to teach him to actually swim and enjoy the water.
Certainly having a baby cry-it-out for a few weeks is much better than them drowning, but for me personally I would rather approach teaching more gently. It is believed that physical excellence is very important and beneficial to overall health, as well as enhancing cognitive function (all physical activity enhances cognitive function), so swimming underwater (even if they are not yet able to save themselves) and the other exercises are intended for that purpose. I would think that the ISR technique would have more of a tendency to give parents a false sense of security than this method would. By the time I was 4 years old I could jump off the high dive fully clothed and swim the whole length of the YMCA pool for a survival test.
We made the mistake of avoiding water on my child’s face with our older kids and they feared water for the longest time! Begin by holding your baby with you in the water in a horizontal position just like natural swimming would be. Even though these floatation devices are safe they are not meant for you to leave baby unattended. Take them out and rinse them off in a warm shower to get the chemicals off their sensitive skin and warm them up. SwimWays believes that swimming is an important life skill and that all children should have the opportunity to learn to swim. This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation.
1,2,3, jump!” Whatever wording you choose, be consistent and always say that same phrase. As I mentioned in exercise 2, we would blow bubbles, then once he was good at that we started doing bobbing up and down.
Being able to safe oneself, and general water safety education, IS a goal and is a big part of the program, but that may or may not be achieved until age one or later, although sometimes earlier.
This makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for him to float on his own at this point in his development. Hopefully neither is the case and parents will use this to become educated about water safety and supervision.
I watched a lot of videos for ideas of how to teach my daughter (almost 1 year old now) to swim. I’ll try having her rest her head on my shoulder and kick and more gradually ease horizontal.
With my youngest we always dump the water over his head, and thus over his face, and he LOVES the water and it doesn’t phase him one bit when it gets on his face.
Our personal favorite baby float is the SwimWays Baby Spring Float because it is specifically designed to introduce baby to the water as their first step in learning to swim. Try having them copy you doing various things like blowing bubbles in the water, splashing your hand, putting your ear in the water, etc. You need to have the same (or more) vigilance as if they had never seen a pool a day in their life. The bathtub is also a great place to introduce splashing, bubble blowing, floating on back, and getting their faces a little wet while you rinse them off.
In the meantime, it is believed that children between a few days old all the way up to toddlers can benefit immensely from being provided the opportunity to be mobile in water and learn to exercise their bodies in this way. I get the value of ISR for sure but I hated that it didn’t seem to be enjoyable at all of the infants. Drowning is a leading cause of death in young children and 85% of these deaths were completely preventable with proper supervision. She’s good at mimicking motor-boat sounds and loves to watch me blow bubbles but when I get her mouth to the surface of the water, half the time she gasps and taking in water.

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