Piglet is a complete water baby. He loves swimming, he loves the paddling pool, sprinklers, the bath. Even just a tub of water in the garden and some toys to shove in it! I’m confident that he was some form of fish in a past life because he’d never be dry if he got his way.
It hasn’t always been like that though. As a newborn he hated baths, which is not all that unusual (luckily for us JJ loves them and doses off almost as soon as he gets in to the water) but he didn’t really grow out of it. It took quite a bit of work to reach a stage where every bath wasn’t a screaming match, but it was worth it! It was trial and error at first, so here are my tips for encouraging young children in water.
1. Get In The Bath With Them
This was the first thing I tried with Piglet. Holding him close while he was in the water did seem to help while he was very small. I actually did this again recently after he had a scare when something dropped into the bath. He thought having mummy in with him was great fun and all fears were soon forgotten.
2. Go Swimming
I started taking Piglet to swimming lessons when he was about 6 months old, but it doesn’t have to be lessons you go to. Simply going to the pool for a family session helps too. We tried a range of swimming pool toys and floats with Piglet to see if there was something to capture his attention and distract him from the fact he was in the water. In the end a simple small rubber fish that spits water was all it took!
According to Swim England, almost a third of children in England leave primary school unable to swim. That makes it all the more important to me to not only make Piglet like water – but to also ensure that he enjoys it and can swim in it. Now that he is older we use baby swim armbands 0-2 years to make sure that he feels safe and secure in the water even when he’s not being held. It gives him some confidence in the water before we take them off to do some “real” swimming practice.
3. Let Them Make Choices
When it comes to bath time let them make a few of the minor decisions. Can they choose their own bubble bath or body wash from the shop? Let them select the toys they want in the bath that day, and the pyjamas they are going to put on when they’re done. I find that giving them an element of control makes them feel better about doing the bits they don’t really want to do.
4. Get Them To Help
Toddlers in particular like to have independence. Piglet likes to be my helper, and so I started using that to my advantage in the bath. He likes to have a little shampoo on his hands that he can rub in to his hair too. He puts the plug in before I run the water, and takes it out again at the end. The little things to make him feeling involved.
5. Make Sure It’s Always Fun
Although for us the main reason for having a bath is to get clean, for children it can largely be about having fun. There is always a way to wash them and get a giggle at the same time. Keep a good supply of toys that they like and are water friendly and make a game out of it. Your little ones will be water fans in no time!
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