6 to 18 months
Your child can...
- Explore the water and start to feel comfortable in it.
- Do very basic kicking and pulling movements.
- Start to master floating and gliding, blowing bubbles, changing directions, and getting in and out of the water (all with help).
Fun ways to learn
- Get in the water first and then give your baby some kind of cue that you're going to bring him in with you.
- Whether it's "one, two, three, four" or "ready, set, go," use the same phrase every time.
- Sing songs ("Row, Row, Row Your Boat," say) while you teach your child new skills, like floating on his back or kicking his feet. Pairing a melody with movement will help him remember what to do.
Keep in mind...
- Another way to explore the water together is to take a swim class. A good time to start: when your baby's 6 months old, says Connie Harvey, aquatics expert at the American Red Cross. You'll learn how to handle him in the water and build a foundation for swimming.
- Classes should have no more than 10 to 15 pairs.
- Don't forget swim diapers for your baby.
Lisa Lewis also writes for Babytalk and Better Homes and Gardens.