What swimming skills can toddlers perform? What is a 2yo’s swimming ability?
Can a two year old swim independently?
The short answer is: yes. Watch this 2 year old swim on his own:
The long and more in-depth answer is: your child is unique from the moment they are born. They will learn to crawl and walk at their own pace, they will say their first word at different ages. They will learn to jump, throw a ball, climb, stand on one leg and so on, at their own individual pace.
Same goes for learning to swim…some toddlers love the water, others are fearful of it. Some 2 year olds are adventurous and take to the water fast, some are more cautious and require a slower process.
While keeping in mind that no two children are alike, let’s look at some of the basic swimming skills 2 year olds are able to learn and perform, after 5-10 swim lessons (or pool visits with the parent):
- Cope with water in and around the mouth (spit the water out and not ingest it)
- Kick their legs up and down continuously for at least 5 seconds
- Move their arms in a scooping motion
- Hold on to the wall and walk sideways on it (we call this the monkey bars or crab walk)
- Blow bubbles, or mimic the motion with their lips
- Grab onto the wall and climb out of the pool
If your 2 year old is able to perform those skills to some extent, after 5-10 swim lessons, your toddler is well on their way to learning to swim. If your 2 year old has a hard time with some of those skills, it does not mean they are not ready for swimming lessons. It means that it may take them longer to learn — and that is absolutely fine.
Do not be surprised if at the swimming pool you will see some 2 year olds who show greater swimming skills – they are known as “water babies”.
Here is what some 2 year old “water babies” can do:
- Hold their breath for a few seconds with the mouth submerged
- Completely submerge their head under the water
- Blow bubbles for at least 3 seconds
- Swim with very little or no support for short distances
- Swim with face submerged, then come up for breath (with very little support or on their own) – yes, 2 year olds can do that!
When you see two toddlers who are the same age, but at different levels of swimming, remember there are many factors that come into play when learning to swim: natural abilities, motor skills, coordination, personality, frequency and consistency of their swim lessons or pool visits with a parent etc.
If you have a cautious toddler, here are some of the challenges they may have and how to help them get through them and learn to swim:
- Show fear in/around the water and may take longer to get used to the pool environment. Give them time and reassurance. Make your toddler feel safe in the water
- Not want to blow bubbles when asked. Instead of insisting, continue demonstrating how you blow bubbles and how much fun you’re having. After watching you numerous times, they will eventually want to try as well
- May show fear of swim on a noodle. In general children who are afraid of swimming with noodles may think that once on the noodle, they are completely on their own and they don’t trust they’ll be safe. Remind them that you will still hold on to them and will help them keep balance
- May not like any sudden or bouncy movements. Respect that and hold them in positions that makes them feel comfortable and safe
- May need more encouragement to begin moving their legs and arms. Sometimes a cautious child would completely freeze in one position if they feel they’re not getting the support they need from you. Continue holding them and encourage them to kick and paddle.
Now let’s talk about the skills fearless and adventurous 2 year olds can do and how to respond to them to keep your toddler safe.
- Adventures toddlers may fearlessly want to jump into the water. Make sure you watch them constantly and you’re always one arm length apart. Your 2 year old is not aware they can’t swim yet
- Are very excited to blow bubbles and get their face wet. It is really great when young children are excited about blowing bubbles. But make sure you keep and eye on their mouth and breath constantly so they don’t ingest water
- Your toddler may give you signs that they are ready to swim on their own. Your 2 year old thinks they can swim, but you know they can’t. If your child doesn’t have much swimming experience, do not let go of them all of a sudden and expect them to swim. They may sink, get scared and lose their confidence
Teach Your Child To Swim™ was especially designed for parents who want to help their kids learn to swim and to be safe in the water
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Related Article: Teach A Toddler To Swim. 10 Activities