12 Months

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Evie, happy birthday to you!

Wow I can’t believe the little baby you see on my home page is now one year old. Of course we gave her a wonderful 1st birthday party with cake, singing and dress ups… and she loved every minute of it! It was lovely to celebrate with friends and family the massive achievements she has made during the first 12 months of her life.

I am so pleased with the commitment I’ve made to her and her learn to swim journey. At 12 months of age Evie is purposefully mobile in the water. She can swim to and from a shallow ledge, hold onto a deck level pool, explore shallow water under strict supervision, turn unaided and find an adult, and she is learning to turn unaided to a shallow ledge. All of these things are huge accomplishments for a 12 month old baby.

While I know Evie is not safe in or around the water unless under strict adult supervision, I believe I have made a difference in her attitudes towards the water. Already she loves the water and with age I believe she will grow a healthy respect for the water which will make her less likely to wander into dangerous situations. Perhaps the most important thing I’ve taught her so far is to love and enjoy the water which will be a gift that will last a lifetime.

Evie’s development on land is growing day by day. Evie can now walk so I guess the journey is only just beginning. We have a great road ahead of us and I hope to continue to share our learn to swim journey with our friends all over the world.

11 Months

By 11 months of age Evie has development exceptional breath control. For this reason we are putting more emphasis on developing more complex swimming skills like down turn arounds and swim arounds.

Down turn arounds teach the baby to turn to safety, either a parent, ledge or side of the pool. Down turn arounds require babies to be submerged vertically. For this reason we do not introduce this skill until children have mastered good breath control.

Evie first started this skill at 8 months of age, however I urge you to ensure your baby is totally comfortable with submerging and floating skills before attempting this. If initial down turn arounds are not happily accepted, return to other underwater skills.

Steps for down turn around (please be aware this technique is demonstrated in the ap) – Hold baby high under the arms facing away from you – Use the trigger words ‘baby’s name, ready go’ – Follow with a horizontal lifting trigger – Submerge baby vertically underwater – Spin and release baby underwater – Catch the baby look them in the eye and congratulate – Build the skill so that the baby pulls themselves up on your t-shirt – Practice this skill to adult, pool ledge and deck level

Swim arounds are another important safety skill. During this skill children learn directional change in the water as they are taught to swim in a semicircle from one shallow ledge to another. This concept is great for teaching children the difference between deep and shallow water.

During the initial stages the baby sits on the ledge next to the parent, the parent guides them (with no submersion) over the deep and allows them to pull up on the shallow ledge. This exercise is repeated from both the left and right direction so the baby becomes used to changing directions in the water. As the baby becomes more confident this activity can be performed underwater. This swim around action is also perfect to extend baby’s breath control.

This month I feel Evie is starting to make the transition from a baby… to I guess a toddler. While she’s not actually walking independently she is becoming so mobile and gets into everything. She is climbing up on furniture particularly the couch and she is ever so pleased with herself. She is also making new attempts with her communication as she points to things with two fingers. Wow time is flying by only one more month until we celebrate her first birthday.

10 Months

Each month Evie gains more confidence and independence in the water. During this month I aim to further enhance Evie’s capabilities by always giving her an opportunity to perform swimming skills by herself while under my strict supervision.

If you take note, in all of the video footage, I always position myself so that she can grip and hold on to me. She uses my shirt and the shallow ledge I make with my body to move around the pool from shallow to deep water, striking out on her own, but always initiating her own pulling up. This independent pulling up is so important in teaching children their capabilities.

The main swimming skills I continue to developing this month are floating to and from the ledge while trying to extend her breath control. I am also introducing safety turns to the ledge which are most important as this skill may one day save her life.

Tips to extend breath control – Start with a small cup of water when practicing conditioning – Replace the small cup with a larger cup or container of water for conditioning – Count how long you pour the water over baby’s face – Start with 3 and build to a 5 second pour

Evie’s development on land is really starting to take off. This month she is capable of walking along a wall, she can climb up stairs and she loves to dance. It is such a magical feeling watching her develop in confidence both in the water and in the home environment.

9 Months

At 9 months Evie is showing great signs of independent mobility in the water. She can now push and float off a shallow ledge and float and pull herself up on a shallow ledge. It’s essential to note that a child’s capability to perform these skills will be determined by pool design, previously introduced water skills and individual readiness.

Tips for floating to a ledge – In the initial stages do not submerge the child – Start by placing them onto the ledge with their arms lifting their head out of the water (legs will overhang deep water) – Repeat the above exercise several times and encourage baby to crawl up onto the ledge – If the baby has mastered conditioning and submersion you can advance the skill further – Introduce assisted submersions and assisted pull up on the ledge – Continue with assisted practices until child is comfortable – Again if the child has already mastered free floating you can advance the skill further – When attempting the free float always use a double trigger (child’s name, ready go) – Follow behind the child in case they struggle to pull themselves up – Step in where necessary but encourage as much independence as possible – Congratulate each and every attempt – Do not continue if baby cries or shows other signs of distress

Evie’s development at 9 moths is continuing to blossom. Just as her independence is showing in the water so too it becoming more evident on land. She will now shake her head ‘no’, crawl and retrieve toys that she wants to play with and has started to stand.

8 Months

This is a very exciting month as Evie can now crawl! She also waving and clapping so we know she is very pleased with her progress.

Her ability to crawl is going to have some huge implication in the learn to swim lesson. It means now she is going to become purposefully mobile in the water.

Babies often use the crawling action they use on land to propel themselves through the water. While this is a very primitive swimming action, nether the less, it allows them to move from A to B in the water. Even though the baby can strike out on their own, they are not safe in the water, and must remain within arms reach of a supervising adult at all times.

Now that Evie is crawling we can also encourage greater exploration in the shallow water teaching ledge. By giving her an opportunity to explore we can teach her the difference between deep and shallow water. Under our strict supervision she can learn her capabilities and boundaries as she explores the way she interacts with the water.

It’s important to remember that the depth of the water will determine whether or not baby will be able to crawl. If the water is too deep it is likely that the baby will find it hard to get their head out of the water and likely swallow water. If this is the case parents should not encourage the exercise because it is extremely dangerous for babies to ingest large amounts of water.

7 Months

Now that Evie is 7 months we are trying to extend her breath control and build independence in the water. We build independence by holding her very softly and giving her an opportunity to support herself as she grips the t-shit. This holding on the start of teaching her a respect for the water. As she grows she will learn that if she doesn’t hold on she will go underwater.

One the baby’s breath control is established to 5 seconds you can submerge and free float them easily underwater. Always remember to 1. Get the baby’s attention 2. Use the trigger words 3. Give them a chance to pull up on the shirt

Evie’s growth and development means she is now capable of sitting up on land. This correlates to the learn to swim lesson. We give her an opportunity to explore the shallow water ledge. This balancing is always done under strict adult supervision. Provided that the baby has been conditioned to go underwater the parent can allow self submersions. After they initiate this underwater work pick them up softly so that they remain relaxed in the water.

6 Months

Evie is now 6 months of age and it is grandpa Laurie’s (Lollipop as he’s affectionately known) turn to get into the pool.

At this stage the main objective is to build Evie’s independence in the water by getting her to grip and hold on. You’ll notice that now 6 months, Evie is much better at this important activity.

Cup conditioning still remains important and is always included in the warm up activity. Evie is now being challenged to hold her breath for 3 seconds.

If you compare the submersions from last month you’ll see that Evie is now able to stay underwater much longer. In fact she is now capable of free floating.

In both submersions and free floats we always ensure that the baby is in a good horizontal position. This position puts baby in a good swimming position and gives them an opportunity to free float and even kick.

When performing underwater work we always use a double trigger to warn the baby. Our verbal trigger is followed by a lifting trigger so that the baby can catch their breath.

When performing free floating activities ideally the parent should build the skill. Start with a float and catch. Then build to a float and grip the t-shirt. If you’ve been regularly practicing gripping activities this should be a breeze.

We are also starting to build independence in shallow water on a foam mat. Here Evie is challenged to hold her head up out of the water. Because she is rolling on land she is also experimenting with this in the water. This is great exploratory learning but the adult must be within arms reach strictly supervising at all times.

Shallow water exploration is also done on a shallow ledge. Here Evie is learning to sit up. Because this is a new activity for Evie she easily overbalances. Because she has been conditioned to go underwater this activity does not bother her. However, if your child has not been preconditioned I would not recommend this activity. Remember learning to swim should follow a gradual progression.

Remember no child is safe in or around water unless being strictly supervised within arms reach of an adult.

5 Months

Evie is 5 months of age and we are getting into a nice swimming routine. At this stage I am taking Evie to the pool twice per week and I am still continuing with her bath time swimming lessons.

I generally start each lesson with a warm up of kicking. This acclimatises her to the pool and gives me an opportunity to practice some word action association with her. Even at this very early age I am introducing Evie to the kicking activity.

Conditioning still remains the most important element of her learn to swim lesson. It’s important to be consistent with conditioning as this allows our submersions underwater to be free from fuss and trauma. I am now trying to increase Evie’s breath control so that she can easily master underwater work without ingesting any water. I extend Evie’s breath control by using a larger cup when I pour water over her face.

Submersions should only be attempted once you and your baby are totally comfortable. Because Evie has been conditioned to hold her breath since birth I am confident that she is ready to go underwater. If you are unsure if your child is ready ask yourself these questions.

Is my baby happy to have water poured on their face? Dose my baby close their eyes and hold their breath when I say “ready go”? Am I confident holding my baby in the water? Am I relaxed enough to attempt submersions?

First submersions should always be performed in a horizontal position. This allows the water to run in a head to toe direction and avoids water being pushed up the child’s nose. When submerging the baby we give them two triggers before they go underwater. The first is our verbal trigger ready go, followed by a kinaesthetic lifting trigger. This slight lift gives the baby an opportunity to catch their breath. At this stage don’t worry if your child is not ready to go underwater. Remember the most important thing is that they are being introduced to the water in a loving and relaxed environment.

After I perform a couple of submersions with Evie the rest of the lesson is spent on maintaining her grasp reflex. I want to teach Evie to hold on to my shirt and fingers. This is a very basic lifesaving skill. As Evie grows I want her to learn to hold on to me rather than relying on me to pick her up and support her in the water. The simple skill is the beginning of Evie learning independence in the water.

When teaching children to swim always remember to 1. Give children an opportunity to feel buoyancy 2. Make them feel secure through physical contact and 3. Give them an opportunity to explore and love the water

4 Months

Evie is now 4 months old so it’s time to graduate her swimming lessons into the big pool.

Anywhere between 4 and 6 months is the perfect time to start your baby swimming in the pool. At this stage the baby has good neck control and is interested in new surrounds. Furthermore the parent is much more relaxed and comfortable handling and interacting with their baby

When taking the baby to the pool for the first time parents should consider things like water quality and water temperature. It’s very important that the water and surrounds are clean and it is vital that you have warm water. The ideal water temperature for teaching babies to swim is 32 degrees Celsius.

If warm water is not available the parents should choose warm parts of the day, dress baby appropriately and stay in the water for shorter periods of time. The typical baby swimming lesson with heated water should run for about half an hour.

When teaching your baby to swim you should always wear a T-shirt in the pool. This enables the baby from a very young age to learn to grip and hold on to your T-shirt rather than you picking them up all the time. As children grow with age this becomes particularly important to establish a respect for the water.

When holding your baby in the pool make sure to hold them very softly so that they can feel the waters buoyancy. This means that the parent should sink down as low as possible in the water. Parents should also try to maintain eye contact with their baby and communicate soothing words to ensure the baby is relaxed and comfortable. Remember your baby looks to you to determine how they should react to new situations.

Week 15

At 15 weeks I decide to conduct an experiment with Evie to test whether she is truly conditioned to the verbal trigger “ready go”. Over the course of the bath and shower I become convinced that in fact she truly is conditioned.

The aim of conditioning is to teach the baby breath control on command. To do this we always give the verbal trigger keeping it rhythmical and constant then follow this command with water over the face.

Because during conditioning we always use a cup to pour the water over the face, very often the baby reacts in response to the cup. In fact we are using a double trigger with the baby, a verbal trigger and a visual trigger.

Because we are aiming for the baby to become conditioned on our verbal trigger it is important to mix up bath time conditioning with shower conditioning. In doing so we reinforce the conditioning process and ensure that our baby does not become reliant on the visual trigger of the cup.