This post was sponsored by SwimWays as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
I grew up going to the pool and the beach every year. My father was a swimming coach, and still is, so being comfortable in water and learning how to swim was one of the first skills I learned in life.
Swimming is not only a good skill to learn but one that is necessary. There are around 4000 unintentional drowning accidents per year and a lot of them could have been avoided if the child knew how to swim.
Learning how to swim starts from the time they are babies. It is all about getting your kids to have fun in the water, getting them comfortable in the water and then taking them to right instructor to learn how to swim.
Ideally we should all put our kids in swimming lessons as soon as possible, but the reality is that some families can’t do that right away (we are one of them). Even then, going once a week to swimming lessons is not enough to get your child to swim so going to the pool or the beach should be part of your routine with your child.
The good news is that they are things you can do for your child to develop a healthy relationship with water and to learn how to swim. My favorite way to introduce kids to water is by using flotation devices because kids can have a little bit of independence while staying safe.
I discovered SwimWays when my first child was a baby because they have this great Baby Spring Float that lets your baby feel the water and get comfortable with it. The best part is that it has a huge canopy and it folds down so it’s perfect for traveling.
We loved this floatie so much I researched a little about SwimWays. It turns out they have been making swimming gear for many years now. They have a wide range of products, from baby floaties to even floaties for you dog!
SwimWays is a leader in helping children learn to swim and promoting water safety. They even host an event every year called called National Learn to Swim Day – this year was their 6th year and it took place on May 20, 2017. They have a great site with information about this event, so you don’t miss it next year. You can also find lots of great swimming resources there so be sure to check it out.
One thing I love about their products for kids is that they are divided into three steps, according to weight and swimming skill:
- Step one: water introduction – is designed to introduce babies to the water by using their Baby Spring Float.
- Step two: water exploration – provides support to children while they learn to swim and paddle (pre-swimming skills). They have 2 products for this stage: Swim Sweater and Swim Vest.
- Step three: swim training – is like training wheels for the pool and gives confidence for the little swimmers. The products for this stage are Power Swimr and Swim Assist.
What I love about this is that they have made it easier for us parents that aren’t swim experts to figure out what our child needs depending on the stage where they are.
Now, let’s talk about how you can help your child feel comfortable in water and encourage them to swim.
How to introduce your child to swimming: what’s the right flotation device for my child
Babies: water introduction
The love for water starts when a child is a baby, even with such a simple activity as playing in the tub. Both of my babies loved playing in the tub, it’s a contained water environment where you can control the quantity of water, so it’s perfect.
We introduced both of our babies to the pool with the Baby Spring Float and it seems like everyone else we knew used this same flotation device. All of our babies really enjoyed being in the pool this way. I used to bring little toys for my babies and placed on the mesh part to keep them entertained but their favorite part was just splashing in the water.
I have to add that my favorite feature is how compact it is. As a family that travels a lot, we needed something that wouldn’t take a lot of room in our suitcase and that would be reliable (i.e. not end up with a hole like it happens with most plastic flotation devices).
Our Baby Spring Float has even been to the beaches in Costa Rica:
We have used the same Baby Spring Float for both of my kids and it’s still in great shape. We loved introducing both girls to the pools and ocean with it, but once my oldest got a little too big for this device we had to look for something else.
Toddlers: Pre-swimming skills
Once your baby has outgrown the baby float and is ready to explore more, it’s time to move up to a product that gives them that freedom. You want to give your child enough support in the water so they can explore the pool by paddling and kicking. This is a great age to bring pool toys with you since you can throw them around and let your child swim to get them.
As someone that takes water safety seriously I was a little nervous to move up my kid to a floatation device that gave her more freedom but once I used it the first time I realized it was pretty safe and sturdy.
For this stage SwimWays offers the Swim Sweater and the Swim Vest. The Swim Sweater is my favorite because it feels less bulky than other types of flotation devices and it’s easy for your child to swim forwards with it.
I love that it goes over your child like a shirt, so they can’t slip out of it. What I love the most is that it’s not made out of plastic so you don’t have to worry about getting a hole in it and having the floatie deflate while your child is using it.
You actually have to put air on the Swim Sweater using a pump, we used my husband’s bike pump, and we leave the air in it during the entire swimming season since it doesn’t deflate on its own. It’s pretty awesome!
The Swim Vest is something you’re probably already familiar with. It’s a vest with foam insets that zip up on the front. This is great if you want your child to stay afloat upright or to be able to lean forward to paddle. One cool thing about these is that you can buy them with a Disney or Marvel theme. They’re made with UPF 50+ fabric so your child is protected from the sun.
For a while my oldest went through a phase that she got scared of the pool. She would go into the pool with us but would cling onto my neck as if her life depending on it. Eventually she realized she could let go and the Swim Vest would keep her afloat. Now all she wants to do is be in the pool all the time.
My youngest was very different and not afraid of the pool at all. In fact, she was trying to get out of the baby float to swim on her own so that’s when we decided to use the Swim Sweater on her. Let me tell you, she is the happiest toddler at the pool. You can see her swimming up and down and when I try to get too close she tells me to move away. She loves having that freedom in the pool!
The best part is that these step two products give them freedom of what it’s like to be able to swim so they’re more motivated to take swim lessons. My youngest even started doing bubbles by herself once she figured out she could put her head in the water and stay afloat.
This stage is all about letting them explore the water and I love that they can do that without having to use a very bulky and uncomfortable flotation device.
I have to add that I’m really impressed with the quality of the Swim Sweater. They definitely last more than one swimming season and can be handed down to the kids in your family. I am sure once we’re done with this stage for all of my kids, this floatie will still be in great shape.
Kids: Let’s get swimming
Once your child is feeling very confident in the water, it’s time to move to the Power Swimr. This looks like a rectangle that goes in front and the back of your child. You adjust the tightness on each side but what I love about this is that it comes with 9 removable floats that adjust to your child’s swimming ability. The less floats that are on, the more the child has to use their swimming skills.
As a mother of two children, I have to go back and forth between both kids at the pool and although my oldest is getting the hang of swimming it makes me nervous to have her in the pool without a flotation device since I’m also watching her sister. So, we’ve been using the Power Swimr on her for a while.
When we started using she didn’t know how to swim at all and it was still enough support to keep her floating. As my child learns more in her swimming classes, we will be removing floats until she gets to the point where she can 100% swim by herself without any issues.
Check out this video so you can see all of the SwimWays flotation devices in action and decide which is the right one for your family:
As a parent your most important task when it comes to introducing your child to swimming is to make them feel comfortable and safe in the water – encourage them to kick and paddle and explore the pool.
Don’t force your child into swimming if they’re afraid or nervous, just let them go at their own pace and keep them safe in the water by using the right flotation device for their weight and stage.
Remember, swimming should be all about fun but also it’s a skill they have to learn to avoid drowning. By making pool time or beach time fun for them, they will feel motivated to learn how to swim and that’s one skill they will use for the rest of their life!
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