Developing swimming skills

I’ve written quite a lot on the blog about swimming and the importance of getting children used to the water as babies. From baby-wearing in water to baby swimming classes to older children swimming competitively, it’s something we are really keen on encouraging.

Learning to swim is so important from a safety point of view but also it’s a great form of exercise and a life skill I don’t think any child should be without.

One of the hardest stages to promote this and build on swimming skills can be the point between baby swimming classes ending and formal swimming lessons starting. I know that companies like Puddleducks, Waterbabies and Turtle Tots still offer lessons beyond the baby years, but we found that our children were loosing interest after about 18 months and preferred to just swim with us in a normal public session and have some play time as well as continuing to develop the things they had learnt during baby swimming.


This is the time that developmentally there are all sorts of changes going on and little ones are going through all sorts of changes as well as starting to challenge us as parents as their personalities become stronger.

Children might become resistant to the water, even if they previously loved it and might even suddenly not like you washing their hair.

This can be a bit frustrating from a parenting point of you as you wonder why they suddenly dislike water when they were a real water baby before, but there are lots of things you can try to keep those swimming skills developing and get rid of the fear of water:

  • If they become difficult at bath time, try giving them a shower instead
  • Make bathtime more about playing than washing
  • Get a water table or just a bucket and let them play with water, you could even just fill the sink and give them a few cups to play with
  • Take them to watch older siblings have their swimming lessons
  • Go swimming as a family frequently
  • Let them paddle and splash in puddles and streams in their wellies or play in the rain
  • Try to find a swimming pool locally that is ‘beach entry’ so they can be a bit more independent and not have to be held all the time in water where they are out of their depth
  • Take them to splash parks
  • Make sure they have swimwear that keep them warm, like a wet suit for example – we’ve always used the Splashabout ones and it means the children can stay happily in the water for longer
  • Make sure you have a towel ready for afterwards – I always have a towel on hand to wipe eyes or get them warm and dry quickly to avoid any association with being cold and swimming. I find it’s best to have the little poncho towels like the ones Cuddledry do, as they can be quickly thrown over heads and little ones feel instantly cosy. If they are wearing a wetsuit, you can then just pull that off with the towel still over them, without having to unwrap them, as you would have to with a normal towel. These are also great for the beach as a cover up. Made with Cuddledry’s signature blend of super-soft pure cotton and bamboo fibre, these are more absorbent than regular cotton towels, drawing moisture more quickly away from delicate skin, meaning your little one stays warm and cosy. The bamboo’s natural anti-bacterial properties also offer parents extra peace of mind in busy, damp changing rooms. With a generous hood and under-arm poppers, the hooded towel poncho stays in place even when your lively little one is running around the changing rooms!

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Happy swimming!

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