Parent’s guide to the best gear to teach toddlers and children to swim
Do you need any specific gear or aid to help your child learn to swim? After all, you remember your parents put water wings on you when you were a kid until you figured out how to swim on your own. And your father told you he learned to swim when his own dad threw him in the water and told him to kick to get to the side. All jokes aside, those are old techniques that we hope no one uses anymore. There are better, more efficient and fun techniques and aids to teach children to swim.
Here’s the swim gear we recommend if you want to teach your child to swim:
1. Swim attire
Learning to swim should be fun. But no one has fun when they feel cold. If the pool temperature is cold and your child always shivers in the water, don’t let this be the reason they don’t enjoy learning to swim.
You can help your child feel more comfortable in the water, with a couple of layers of swim clothing. Yes, layering the rash guards makes a big difference, as is keeps the warmth close to the child’s body.
Your child can wear a thinner rash guard plus a wet suit over it, or two rash guards. Take it from a swimmer who always feels cold – layering swim clothing really helps.
2. Swim goggles
Goggles protect the eyes from chlorine and also come as a great tool for teaching children who don’t like to get their face wet. With goggles on and no worries of stinging eyes, children will be more inclined to want to look under the water to find toys and to discover the underwater world.
We highly recommend that you alternate between goggles and no goggles, to not create dependency.
You may have a hard time convincing a one or two year old to wear goggles, but children two and a half and older will be more inspired to try them on and want to wear them.
These Swim Goggles for beginners, protect the eyes from chlorine and make looking underwater fun. These goggles are a great aid for teaching young children or beginners breath control and to submerge their face. Because of the “mask-like” shape, these goggles make contact with the water quicker – which helps kids overcome their fear of lowering their face into the water. Therefore, kids become more motivated to look under the water longer, which helps improve their underwater breathing skills. To not create dependency practice with and without goggles. The ultimate goal is that kids become very comfortable swimming without goggles. Learn for FREE all the secrets to teach kids to swim.
Comfy goggles for more experienced swimmers.
These goggles are great for older children and children who are already comfortable submerging their head. The shape of these goggles fits most face shapes, so they don’t leak. They provide good suction without being too tight. Swimming with goggles helps children concentrate on correct technique and swim underwater longer. We prefer the clear type rather than the tinted ones, so children can see better under the water. Remember, to not create dependency practice with and without goggles. Our ultimate goal is that kids become very comfortable swimming without goggles.
3. Swim cap
Most pools require that your child wears a swim cap. But some children don’t like swim caps, either because they pull the hair or feel too tight.
Here are some options that will make it easier for your children to want to wear a swim cap:
Cartoon, silicone swim caps. Your children will want to wear these fun caps and look like a fish or a shark in the pool.
4. Swim noodles for learning buoyancy, mobility and correct technique
Noodles are great to teach kids to swim. Supervise your children constantly and carefully, as noodles are not life-saving devices! Benefits: kids learn about buoyancy of the water and floating; children learn to balance in both horizontal and vertical positions; noodles do not restrict the arm movement; they provide confidence and independence in the water; they help children achieve correct swimming technique. How to use them: placing the noodle under the armpits is a great practice for learning to swim in a horizontal position; straddling the noodle is a great practice for treading water; placing the noodle on the back helps children learn the back skills. We suggest you purchase two noodles in case your child needs more support in the beginning stages. When using two noodles at the time, place them under your child’s armpits – not on the waist or on the back. Avoid prolonged use so as not to create dependency.
Noodles come in different sizes. The one that we like for teaching children to swim are these pool noodles.
5. Floatation aids for learning to swim for 18mo – 2.5 years old
This swim suit with removable floats teaches children how to keep balance in the water in different body positions, helps them learn about buoyancy and how to begin moving efficiently through the water.
Please note: most children will not be able to keep balance and swim with this suit on their first try. They will definitely need a few swim sessions and your help to learn to swim with it.
6. Swim belt for learning to tread water and to doggy paddle for 2.5 year old and up
Because it’s attached to the back and waist, some children may need help from the parent to learn to balance with it. Introduce the swim belt only when children are comfortable in the water and already gained some experience swimming with the noodle under the armpits and straddling the noodle. The swim belt helps children learn the following important skills: how to apply the right resistance with their arms so they can keep their head above the water; how to tread water and to swim the doggy paddle with the head above the water. This belt is adjustable, so you can remove one square at the time as children improve. Each time you remove one square the belt provides less support so the child has to work harder the stay afloat. Swimming comfortably with one less square means your child is getting closer to swimming on their own.
Learn how to teach your child to swim with the swim belt. Sign up for 14 days free trial and start teaching your child now. We have dozens of videos and step by step instructions: www.teachyourchildtoswim.com.
7. Kick Board
Practicing with the kick board helps children improve their kick, their streamlined body position and the coordination between the leg action and breathing. Introduce the kick board only when your child has already become comfortable in the water. In our online course: “Teach your child to swim – the fun, easy and effective way”, children start practicing with kick board at Level 2. This kick board has hand holes at the top and at the bottom – which makes it easy for children to hold on to it, but also to practice with the head and body in two slightly different positions. The child’s belly should never be on the kick board, as they can lose their balance and fall off of it. Only the arms and head should be on the kick board.
8. Water Toys
We strongly believe that learning through play is the most fun way to learn to swim. Encourage your children to move through the water while chasing those toys. Here are some of our favorite water toys:
- These cups are great for sprinkling and pouring water and for helping young children get used to water on their head and face;
- What child doesn’t like playing with rubber duckies in the water? This momma duck and her ducklings are going to make swimming so much fun for your kid;
- This is one of our favorites. Children of all ages absolutely love playing with the shark and the fishes. The more they chase the fishes, the stronger they get in the water. Not mention how good this toy is for their motor skills;
- Those slow sinking rings are great for children who are just learning to look under the water, as well as for children who like to dive to the bottom for sinking toys.
Private Swim Instructor at ProSwimNYC