18 months to 3 years
Your child can...
- Continue to build on the skills he'll need to swim, like basic arm motions and kicking.
- Get in and out of the water by himself using the stairs (when he's closer to 3).
- Learn to dunk his head and hold his breath.
- Jump in next to you.
Fun ways to learn
- To practice submerging, your child can reach down to retrieve plastic rings or toys in the baby pool's shallow end.
- Toss a floating toy in the water and have your child reach for it and pull it toward him. "This teaches the basic arm motions for learning to paddle," says Beth Meyer, associate aquatics director at the Downtown Berkeley YMCA, in Berkeley, California.
- To move around in the water, he can pretend he's a train chugging along the side of the pool: Have him scoot his hands along the edge.
Keep in mind...
- Any class you take should still be together -- formal swim lessons can come later.
- Though your toddler's now more independent in the water, stay within arm's reach at all times.
- Remember swim diapers!