Babies are born with a natural affinity for water. As they spend nine months in the womb filled with fluid, they are born with natural reflexes called the bradycardic response that makes them hold their breath and open their eyes when submerged in the water. However, it doesn't mean that babies have the ability to swim. They cannot control their breath intentionally underwater or their head is not strong enough to keep above the water, raising the risk of drowning. Nevertheless, these reflexes do help babies 'swim' as they splash around and have water fun in the pool. Therefore, it is very important to be hands-on in water, especially when babies can't express themselves in words.
As babies grow older, their newborn reflexes diminish. Some of them even develop a fear for water due to past traumatic incidents such as near drowning experience. Therefore, it's important to expose your baby to waterplay at an early age, with constant supervision and guidance from parents!
There are many ways to help your child get comfortable wading into the water, Here are some tips:
Talk with your kids to understand why they are fearful of the water
Try to understand why your little ones are afraid of the water. Some of the kids may develop fear after past bad experiences in the water. Talk and listen to them patiently. You may find ways to help them cope with their fears. Don't force them or yell at them when they are scared!
Get the right equipment to support your little ones
Offer arm floats, swim ring or life jackets to assist them stay afloat in water. Your little ones will feel more relax and comfortable in the water as they know there is something to support them while having water play time. With the life-saving equipment, it’s safer for your little ones during waterplay.
Always be with them in the water
Children who are fearful of water lack the confidence to stay underwater. They need encouragement and companionship to overcome their fears. It’s very dangerous to leave your little ones unattended in the water, let alone the risk of drowning, it is risky when an infant swallow large amount of pool water. So, stay close to them in the water, with your presence, they will feel more confidant and secure.
Seek help from professional ones
Despite your best efforts, if your little ones are still fearful of water, you may need to seek professional help. Let the professionals lead the way. They may also share some tips on how we can overcome their fears as they are more experienced. Patience is the key to building their water confidence!