How to Teach Your Baby to Swim


How to Teach Your Baby to Swim

Summer officially began yesterday, but for many of us “summer” has been in swing for weeks or even months now, which hopefully means lots and lots of beneficial swimming!

Our swimming program has been on again, off again since April, but lately has been going great with fabulous progress from both of my boys (ages 1 and 7). In this post, I would like to share with you the exercises I have been using with Damien (12 months) over the past few weeks to teach him how to swim!

How to Teach Your Baby to Swim

He loves to swim!

I use the techniques as outlined in the Doman book How to Teach Your Baby to Swim – Birth to Age 6. A little about this program:

  • It is not just a “water introduction” program as most “swimming lessons” are for this age. It is actually about teaching your baby to swim, by themselves, beginning at birth or any time thereafter (newborns are born knowing how to swim).
  • The program is gentle and joyous! No aggressive, cry-it-out techniques here.
  • The program emphasizes learning swimming skills, water safety, water hygiene, and bonding with parents.

This 6-12 month old program is the second level of the Doman swimming program (first level is 0-6 months). Some prerequisites to this level of the program:

  • Is ideally familiar with and accustomed to water and pool.
  • Can hold breath underwater

There are a lot more things covered in the first level of the program, but if you have an older baby and are just now beginning, you can jump right into this level of exercises after you first work on getting your baby comfortable in water and knowing how to hold their breath underwater. Some tips for achieving that are found below!

Are you ready for the techniques? Here are some of the exercises we do:


How to Teach Your Baby to Swim

1. Jumping into the pool

This is an important exercise as it is not only laying the foundation for diving later on, but you are also teaching your baby how to safely enter the pool. It’s also an awful lot of fun!

Key: Teach baby to only enter pool with parent!

You can do this exercise by first having baby sit at the edge of the pool. Teach him that mommy always goes in first and he must wait. They’re never too young to understand this! Once you are ready, give him permission – “Ok! 1,2,3, jump!” Whatever wording you choose, be consistent and always say that same phrase.

In the beginning you will need to have him hold your fingers with his hands and very gently pull him in. If he is accustomed to going underwater, let him jump in and go under and then pull him up to the surface or let him kick and swim up to the surface.

Beginners: If he’s not yet accustomed to going underwater, just let him go in chin deep and then pull him back up to yourself. Gradually go deeper under as he learns and becomes comfortable!

How to Teach Your Baby to Swim

Jumping from standing

Some alterations of this exercise:

  • Jump in from sitting without holding parent’s fingers
  • Jump in from standing position with or without holding parent’s fingers

Tip: Continue to hold your baby’s fingers until you feel he is very well balanced – slipping is easy and can be dangerous

How to Teach Your Baby To Swim

Playing together underwater

2. Blowing bubbles, bobbing up and down, going underwater together

Blowing bubbles in the water is a great way to teach your baby to hold his breath if he’s not yet accustomed to it. It will teach him to blow out, not breath in, while his mouth is underwater, and will also help him to get comfortable with his face in the water. Babies love to mimic so this is always a lot of fun!

Bobbing up and down is another way to slowly introduce your child to holding his breath. Think of a phrase to use, such as “1,2,3, under!” that means he is about to go under the water, and use it every time without fail!

Always tell your baby when he is about to go under (either a little or fully submerged). He will learn what the phrase means and will hold his breath in anticipation.

At first simply bob him up and down only to chin deep. Keep it fun and joyous! Gradually, over the course of time, get deeper and deeper, first getting just his mouth a little wet with each bob, then submerging his entire mouth, then up past his nose, finally you will get to where his entire face and then entire body goes under with each bob.

Read your baby’s cues – introduce steps gradually and don’t continue if your baby isn’t enjoying himself!

A final exercise in learning to hold his breath will be to go underwater together completely. Do this for just a split second at first and you will gradually be able to stay under longer. Make it fun!

How to Teach Your Baby to Swim

3. Passing underwater

Once your baby is comfortable holding his breath underwater, you can begin to teach him the swimming motions by passing him under the water. Grasp his sides as in the picture above and hold him horizontally in the water. You can either hold him straight out in front of you (as above) or sideways in front of your, or by your side. Then give him to phrase (“1,2,3, under!”) and put him underwater while moving him through the water. Encourage him to kick, kick, kick! This will teach him the forward motions of swimming. As he gets used to this, briefly let him go while you do this exercise.

How to Teach Your Baby to Swim

4. Swimming independently underwater

Once your baby is comfortable and confident underwater, he can begin to truly swim! Start by doing the bobbing up and down exercise or the passing underwater exercise, but briefly let go of him while he is underwater. This may startle him at first to feel his own weight floating in the water without your hands supporting him! Just begin slowly and gradually, as with everything.

Next begin to walk backwards in the pool while holding baby by his sides in front of you (see above picture). Give him the signal that he is about to go under (“1, 2, 3, under!”) and let him go. Hold your arms out for him to swim to you. Babies instinctually know how to swim! He may be uncoordinated at first but will get the hang of it quickly.

If he doesn’t fully swim to you, pull him towards you and then lift him out of the water. Praise him profusely! Begin with just split second swim sessions and gradually lengthen the time baby stays underwater as you sense his capabilities.

Walking backwards before you let him go under creates a current and will make it easier for baby to swim to you!

Alterations of this exercise:

  • Have baby swim to you while you are standing still (instead of walking backwards first)
  • Have baby swim between two parents or between a parent and sibling
  • Have baby swim in front of you or beside you (this way you can “push” him through the water before letting him go, giving him a boost)
  • Have baby sit on a stair step or hold onto the ladder or edge and then jump in and swim to you
How to Teach Your Baby to Swim

Back floating is the only thing about swimming he doesn’t yet enjoy

5. Floating on back

By being able to float on their backs, babies can learn to swim, flip over to catch a breath (and/or rest), swim some more, and then catch another breath and continue in this pattern. Most babies will be able to float on their backs long before they are able to lift their heads out of the water.

This exercise is simple – put your baby on his back and help him float! At first hold your baby completely so he feels secure, but gradually decrease the amount of support you give him until eventually he will hopefully be able to float on his own. If baby is uncomfortable in this position at first, you might need to get creative – for instance, lay your baby’s head on your shoulder (at water level) and be playful – have him kick his feet and tickle his tummy! He will gradually become used to the horizontal position.

Try associating a song with back floating – we sing “Twinkle, twinkle little star” (as he looks at the sky). Consistently using specific words, phrases, or even songs for each exercise will teach your baby what to expect and spur his success.

Alterations of this exercise:

  • It is a good idea to teach your baby how to get on their backs from a different position. Flip them gently from their stomach to their back, then back onto their stomach, etc.
  • Help your baby to swim to the surface of the water and then get into the back floating position. 

On a side note, my son hates floating on his back! The child is all smiles the entire time we’re in the pool but becomes very upset whenever I try this with him. I just introduce it in short little bursts and don’t push it when I see he is not enjoying himself. I know, as with everything, he will get it eventually.

How to Teach Your Baby to Swim

6. Safely exiting the pool

It is very important that your baby learn how to climb out of a pool. Have baby grab the edge of the pool and let him hang on with as little support from you as possible. Let him hang there for a little while. The goal will be to be able to swim to the edge and hang on by himself, and then to eventually be able to hang on and climb out of the pool.

After he has held onto the edge for a little while, tell him to climb out. Give him a little push or let him push off of your hands as needed, by try to let him do as much as possible by himself.

Alterations of this exercise:

  • Swim to a ladder and climb out the ladder
  • Swim to the stairs and climb out from the stairs
  • If you’re in a lake, pond, or ocean, have him swim to the edge of the water and crawl or walk out, or have him hold onto the edge of a dock or climb out a dock ladder

How to Teach Your Baby to Swim

Remember:

1. Always, always, always supervise your baby. It doesn’t matter how good of a swimmer they are – they need adult supervision at all times. Do not become complacent thinking that your baby can save themselves if they fell in. Ever. You need to have the same (or more) vigilance as if they had never seen a pool a day in their life. Drowning is a leading cause of death in young children and 85% of these deaths were completely preventable with proper supervision.

2. Strongly emphasize from day one that baby may never, never enter the pool without you first giving the signal and being right there. Be consistent and they will learn.

3. Be joyous in your teaching! Your baby will pick up on your attitude. Always be enthusiastic, happy, and full of laughter and excitement, even if your baby might be timid. Babies will feed off of your composure.

4. Watch your baby carefully for distress, and never push him beyond slight discomfort. The key is to be gradual and patient. If he does not like something, do the exercise for just a split second and then praise him profusely. Hug him, kiss him, tell him how wonderful he is, and celebrate his accomplishment. Perhaps repeat one more time, then go onto something else. A little bit every day leads to substantial progress over time.

5. If your baby does not enjoy the water at all, do not try and do these exercises until he is comfortable in water. Start small, just by getting him used to walking around in the water while you hold him. Encourage him to splash, watch you get your face wet or blow bubbles, or play with toys. Once he is comfortable, gradually build in more exercises into your routine. The bathtub is also a great place to introduce splashing, bubble blowing, floating on back, and getting their faces a little wet while you rinse them off.

6. Try to swim at least three days a week to achieve the best result. Swimming every day is ideal!

As some encouragement for you, here is a video of my baby I took two days ago of him swimming underwater. If it makes anybody feel better, just a few weeks ago he hated putting his face in the water and would often swallow water whenever I put him under! Now he swims with great joy and even since this video, he has progressed! He now kicks his little feet and swims farther and longer underwater, and he also no longer nose dives to the bottom of the pool but stays relatively near the surface!

Happy swimming! I would love to hear about your experiences and progress with your little ones!

Please subscribe to get more posts on teaching your newborn, toddler, and older children how to swim, as well as articles about water safety, scheduling, tips, and more! Coming in summer 2013.

Related Resources:

The Truth About Learning to Swim using Floatation Aids: is it helpful or counterproductive? Should you use floatation aids in teaching your child how to swim?

 

 

Underwater Faces

Video and pictures of Damien swimming at 21 months old

 

 

Infant Swimming: The Roll and Float Survival Method (ISR)

Is infant swimming bad? My response to the many queries in the comments about the ISR method for infant swimming: Infant Swimming: The Roll and Float Survival Method (ISR)

 

The book I use to teach my kids how to swim – dozens of exercises for a newborn to a six-year-old.

 

 

“The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.”

Psalm 93:4

Damien is currently 12 months, 2 weeks old 



Comments & Responses

103 Responses so far.

  1. Kat says:

    So great. he looks so happy to be swimming. i’m going to pin this for future reference! If you dont mind me asking, what kind of camera were you using?

  2. Sammy Lynn says:

    How fun!!! I tried to take a swimming class with my son when he was 6 months and it was a big disappointment. I just ordered the Doman book from Amazon. My son is two and a half now and I can’t wait to try to teach him to actually swim and enjoy the water. The class just had a few weeks of songs and splashing. We never even got to the point where we taught them to hold their breath. Thank you for your great blog!

  3. Amber says:

    my son started swim class at 9 months for a month. Before, he was so ok when it came to the water. Good at getting out of the pool. Good at going under water. Now (from experiences in the bath). He likes to get his ears wet, he even likes to put his face in the water but noticed that he takes in water. The technique to blow in his face before going under water we did when he was 9 months old but I don’t know how to help him with that now. Any suggestions. Should I pay and get him in a swim lesson this summer or just try to do it at home?

    • domanmom says:

      Hi Amber,

      I really do not know much about the quality of paid-for lessons for this age and whether or not they would help your child. In my experience most “swim lessons” for this age do not teach much, but if you have a good quality program available near you and you feel it may help, that is up to you.

      Are you saying that he doesn’t know how to hold his breath underwater anymore? I would say to just approach it gradually. When my son was very tiny we also did the blowing-on-face technique to get him to hold his water in the tub, but by this spring he had forgotten and I had to reteach. The way I did it was just gradually. As I mentioned in exercise 2, we would blow bubbles, then once he was good at that we started doing bobbing up and down. At first I would only get about half of his mouth under the water for a split second. He usually got water in his mouth. I would gradually go deeper and deeper, only for split seconds. At first he swallowed water almost every time, but after about a week he figured it out.

      Whatever technique you try, just do it very slowly and for only a split second, and be sure to always use the same phrase to warn him when he is about to go under (i.e. “1,2,3, under”). I am sure he will pick up on it eventually.

      • Amber says:

        Thanks for the reply back. Yes we are definitely going to reintroduce it to him again. At the swim center, they teached all the techniques that you taught your son. I don’t know what they will be doing at the other ones that I will sign him up for.

        • Liz says:

          Hi, I’ve been teaching swim-float-swim (or “smartfish”) swim lessons for many years. I strongly discourage having children hold their breath underwater – it’s an extremely hard habit to break when they get older! We teach all babies and children to do “oooooooo” bubbles as soon as they are able to mimic. By saying “oooooooo” underwater, it provides a steady stream of bubbles while also teaching proper breathing techniques for swimming and has the added benefit of preventing water from going up the nose. There are additional holds that really assist babies with beginning submersions. The blog owner is free to email me if she wants any additional info! Happy swimming!

  4. Colby says:

    I cried watching that sweet video! So precious! My little water bug is 7 months old & I can’t wait to try some of these helpful tips & techniques. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Kaylee says:

    What about the fact that he isn’t closing his mouth underwater? Does that affect anything?

    • domanmom says:

      Hi Kaylee, it doesn’t really have much of an effect for him personally. He does usually keep his mouth open, but he doesn’t swallow water, and it doesn’t seem to bother him, so I am not too worried about it. :)

  6. Alicia says:

    Thanks for the info. We have a pool and my daughter was 1 when she moved and i kind of did my own thing, she learned quickly and is a amazing swimmer at age 5. Now i have a 6 month old and i feel more garded with him. I wil be trying some of these techniques later today with him. Thanks!

  7. Katie says:

    There is a program called Infant Swimming Resource. You can find an instructor in your area that actually has had years of training and knows how to teach your child to hold his breath and to roll to his back and float where he can rest and breathe. This is a life saving skill that I feel every child should learn and should not be taught by anyone not trained to do so. Blowing in a child’s face and putting them underwater does NOT teach them to hold their breath! Also it is never a good idea to teach a child to blow bubbles under the water. You are teaching them to blow out their air when they are underwater. They should learn to hold their breath until their face clears the water. They also need that air in their lungs to help to the surface. When teaching a child to float you DO NOT want to tell them or teach them to kick their feet. This will cause water to flow over their face and they will not be able to breathe properly. Best advice to give anyone wanting their child to be safe in and around water to go to infantswim.com and find an instructor. They know what they are doing. As I watch this video I am scared because not only is that child underwater, at times he is sinking and not making any effort whatsoever to roll onto his back to float. All he knows is if he goes under water that a magic hand will pull him up. If he were to find himself alone in or around a pool or any body of water for that matter he will not have the skills to save his own life. He would be expecting that magic hand to pull him to safety. Children must first be able to navigate the water before they learn to play in it.

    • domanmom says:

      I appreciate your input to the discussion, Katie. You brought up some interesting points, such as why blowing in the water might not be a good idea.

      I have heard of ISR and seen lots of their videos on YouTube. From what I understand of the program, the main goal is survival and the lessons are very one-track: teach baby how to get to their back to float and breath, so that they can save themselves if they were to ever fall in. I do see a lot of value in this method, but for me personally it is not the one I chose for my kids. There are a couple of reasons for this:

      1. From my understanding and what I have seen of their lessons on the web, the tactics used in IRS are somewhat aggressive and usually involve the baby crying and panicking. The goal seems to be to teach as quickly as possible this life-saving tactic. Certainly having a baby cry-it-out for a few weeks is much better than them drowning, but for me personally I would rather approach teaching more gently.

      2. Also, from my understanding, the only goal for IRS for children under the age of 1 is to teach them how to float and save their own lives. The Doman method is more about physical fitness for this age. It is believed that physical excellence is very important and beneficial to overall health, as well as enhancing cognitive function (all physical activity enhances cognitive function), so swimming underwater (even if they are not yet able to save themselves) and the other exercises are intended for that purpose. Being able to safe oneself, and general water safety education, IS a goal and is a big part of the program, but that may or may not be achieved until age one or later, although sometimes earlier. In the meantime, it is believed that children between a few days old all the way up to toddlers can benefit immensely from being provided the opportunity to be mobile in water and learn to exercise their bodies in this way.

      3. While I do admire IRS, I don’t think that it is necessarily possible for all 6-12 month olds to be capable of floating by themselves (and I do believe that they admit this, also). Certainly, many are, and it is a valuable skill to teach, but my son for instance is “built” a little “differently” – he is in the 20th percentile for weight but his head circumference is in the 95th percentile (i.e. = big head, not very much body fat). This makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for him to float on his own at this point in his development.

      As for the him sinking to the bottom in this video, yes that is correct, but this video was taken not very long after he began swimming underwater by himself like this. As I mentioned in the comments above the video, just a few days later he was doing much better at staying towards the surface and wasn’t going straight towards the bottom yet. I am also working with him on back floating and flipping onto his back from different positions, as I mentioned in this post.

      In the meantime, I plan to continue to exercise extreme parental supervision, particularly when there is any risk of access to bodies of water, as I believe ALL parents should ALL the time, no matter what kind of training their child has. With infant swimming I do believe there is more than one right way, and the Doman method just has different goals and techniques, but safety can still be achieved using Doman.

      I do appreciate your input though, I actually was writing a post about IRS and it should be up soon!

      • Traci says:

        This modified ISR no way around that fact except the parent is teaching it. ISR instructors are trained to look for things that a parent would not look for in a child THIS young learning to swim: swallowing too much water (this can lead to death BTW and other things.

        Your post deeply concerns me as a parent of a child who drowned: http://malena-rose.memory-of.com/Timeline.aspx I think it is giving parents a false sense of security thinking they have taught their babies to swim and they are fine. ISR does follow up with their students until they are 5 yrs old.

        • domanmom says:

          I am so sorry for your loss, Traci. I would hope that every parent, everywhere would never become complacent with their child around water. For me personally, I know that the fact that my child loves swimming and water makes me even MORE cautious. I would think that the ISR technique would have more of a tendency to give parents a false sense of security than this method would. Hopefully neither is the case and parents will use this to become educated about water safety and supervision.

          • Sheila says:

            I think the concern is not the parents false sense of security, but the childs. Your child trusts you and that you will always be there. What if your not?

        • Patty says:

          I visited your daughters Malena Rose memorial site:

          Beautiful!

          May God continue to bless your family & hold you close.

        • swimmommy says:

          My son did the ISR program one summer when he was 2 and he is now 5. We never heard from them after his last class. I found it to be way too aggressive for me.

      • Martina says:

        I’m thankful for the perspective of this post and excited to try some new techniques with my daughter. I started swimming lessons very young myself and my mom did the blow-in-the-face technique to get me used to being underwater. Apparently I’d sometimes swallow too much water and vomit but the end result was that I loved swimming and was great at it. By the time I was 4 years old I could jump off the high dive fully clothed and swim the whole length of the YMCA pool for a survival test. I watched a lot of videos for ideas of how to teach my daughter (almost 1 year old now) to swim. I get the value of ISR for sure but I hated that it didn’t seem to be enjoyable at all of the infants. I want my daughter to love swimming and desire to be good at it. I’ll teach her to roll over and float as part of loving and learning to swim. My challenge right now is getting her to hold her breath—or at least not suck in water. She’s good at mimicking motor-boat sounds and loves to watch me blow bubbles but when I get her mouth to the surface of the water, half the time she gasps and taking in water. She never closes her mouth in the water. We’ll keep practicing. I need to remember to always use the same verbal cues. Thanks for your positive attitude, suggestions and encouragement!

        • Martina says:

          Oh, and we’ve been working on back floating too. My goal is to have her floating on her back independently by the end of the summer. She doesn’t hate it but it’s her least favorite thing we work on. Lately she’s been sticking her feet straight up in the air when we practice. I’ll try having her rest her head on my shoulder and kick and more gradually ease horizontal.

    • Angela says:

      1) I have been teaching infant swimming for 15 years.
      2) ISR is a CULT. Check out http://www.infantswimmingtruth.com. There are better, safer and more appropriate ways to teach your baby how to love the water, acclimate to it and learn how to float and swim. I would avoid YMCA and your local rec centers. Most are developmentally inappropriate. Check out http://www.usswimsschools.org for a local swim school in your area. Most are using the most cutting edge techniques for infant/toddler swimming.
      3) Babies have a breath holding reflex. Teaching young children to hold their breath allows for greater Breath Control, Buoyancy and Balance/Body position in the water. Blowing bubbles reduces Buoyancy, which compromises body position in the water. ( hips sink, induced vertical floating, energy expenditure, not calm floating). YOu can , however, teach them how to HUM in the water with their mouth closed.
      In order for children to float face down in the water, they need to have optimal Buoyancy and body position. Only then can they safely learn backfloats. Most babies HATE backfloats, exhibits arching and rolling when placed on their backs. Have them get more comfortable front floating first.
      4) a lot of kids can close their throats and go under the water with their mouths wide open and it doesnt affect them.
      5) Just a tip to the author— do not hold your child by the hands when they are jumping in from the side of the pool. You are allowing them to thus enter VERTICALLY. Help guide them into the pool by their armpits and ribcage, thus allowing them to enter on their tummies, then , as you walk backwards, allow their shoulder girdle to roll forward and down, lowering their face into the water and thus allowing the child to learn to float HORIZONTALLY on the surface, with their head and face low in the water, floating into your “wake”… this is supporting a more optimal swim/float position.

      Feel free to email me with any questions.

      • Holly Hook says:

        I would LOVE to find one of those schools you talk about, but I’m three hours away from the closest one. Could you give me some advice? This was the third session of a local parent-tot class I’ve been attending. First two days, my one year old loved it! It was like a big bath tub to him. Today, he had learned I was going to duck him under the water after I blew in his face and he would panic. They are telling me to blow in his face, yet he looks pretty distressed when he comes up sputtering. I don’t want to drown him, or scar him for life! What do I do? The other kids in the class are toddlers. Mine is significantly younger…but its the only class for miles around! Is there a way I could take advantage of the opportunity without doing something unwise?

  8. Mary says:

    I taught swimming lessons for ever… I do understand about teaching them to blow bubbles is having them blow air out — however.. When i taught that, especially with younger children, they moved into holding their breath pretty quick!! I have a 20 month old that first blew bubbles and now is holding his breath on his own and floating on back!! The key is getting them used to the water and comfortable!! Pool safety is important but I think that’s awesome that you are getting him to do all this at this age– pool safety comes from the patents and how they teach routines and skills!! Great job!!! As you can tell I’m nit a big fan of crying situations in pool either!!!

    • domanmom says:

      Thanks for your comment, Mary. And yes, I agree, blowing bubbles underwater is really just an introductory technique to get kids used to putting their faces in the water and also to not swallow or breath in water. My son did this in the beginning but does not blow bubbles when he is underwater anymore, as seen in this video.

  9. Britta says:

    So cool! I’ve heard of baby swimming before but the idea kind of scared me, but with your pictures, video and instructions it looks so fun and do-able! Thank you!

  10. Trudy says:

    Thank you for this awesome post! I loved it! I have a little boy named Damien, too! He is almost 11 months.
    The video you posted is adorable! You are such a fun, good momma!
    Thanks, again!

  11. Shauna says:

    Thanks for posting this! My son turns 2 in August and we’ve been going to the pool quite a bit this summer. He’s already super comfortable being in the water so I’ve wanted to move to training him skills but didn’t know how. This was very insightful! Thank you again!

  12. Alyse says:

    So I am a new/young mom(21). My son is only 15 months old and since we are going to be moving to Hawaii soon i would like to teach him how to swim. My only problem is that i’m scared that he will drown. How do you get over that fear? He is my one and only (and when i say one and only i mean i can’t have any more kids) and i don’t want anything to happen to him. the whole blowing in the face thing doesn’t work for him. What other way can i teach him to hold his breath?

    • domanmom says:

      Hi Alyse, are you saying that you have a fear of putting him underwater to teach him to hold his breath? The only advice I could give you is to just approach it very gradually. Like I mentioned in this post, earlier this spring my son would swallow water whenever I put him under. But I just put him under a TINY bit at a time, for instance only his bottom lip and only for a second. And pretty soon he learned to close his mouth, and later to hold his breath. I hope that you are able to find a way that works for you and your son. Trial and error can teach you a lot, just be gradual and sensitive to your baby!

  13. [...] to the surface and roll to his back, breath and be comfortable in this position. (At the moment, he adores swimming but back floating is the one thing that he can’t stand. So, we’re working on [...]

  14. Aricka says:

    This is SOO helpful!! We live in San Diego & my 2 1/2 yo loves water! He plays in the surf ALL day at the beach but I wont let him go in passed his knees bc I want him to learn how to swim first. He loves going underwater even in the ocean & loves jumping into pools & the waves. But,he will NOT lay on his back, he panics. We try that everytime but no matter what tricks I try he will not do it. So I’m going to try some of your tricks tonight!! He wants so badly to be out with the boys surfing so hopefully these tricks will get him out there for his 3rd birthday =]]

    • Angela says:

      Where in SD do you live? Try Floaties Swim School, Murray Callan Swim Schools, Aqua Pros Swim Schools, Noonan Family Swim School or WaterWorks swim school. They are located all over SD.

      Good Luck, and feel free to email me if you have any questions.

  15. mindee says:

    what great advice and lessons on teaching your baby how to swim! weve been to the water park a lot this month, and i may start doing this soon with my 13 month old, thanks for writing this so detailed, its great! hes such a cute little swimmer!

  16. Julia says:

    Hi! My daughter Jillian is 11 months old and loves the water! We have a pool and this morning we tried blowing bubbles for 20 min. She just kept swallowing the water, which I knew she would! My question is how long everyday should we be practicing? Also reading the comments above one lady said a baby can die from swallowing too much water?? How do I know if its too much?!!! Thank you for posting this! Great job with your son!! I hope I can teach my little one!!

    • domanmom says:

      Hi Julia, how long you practice each day will vary depending on you and your baby. I would recommend to keep lessons relatively brief – maybe a half hour at most, but perhaps much shorter depending on your baby’s comfort level and interest.

      The information the woman gave about a baby swallowing too much water and dying was inaccurate. If your child swallows water (that is, drinking it as he would a beverage) that is not an issue. If your child INHALES water (breathes it into the lungs) that can be a problem. Getting water in the lungs can lead to pneumonia or it can also cause “secondary drowning” if a large amount of water was inhaled, which is probably what this woman was talking about. This is when a large amount of water gets in the lungs and the lungs are not able to work properly and get oxygen to the rest of the body, and the person can die, even though they may not be under the water anymore. If your child had a large amount of water in their lungs and was at risk for experiencing “secondary drowning”, you would certain know – incessant coughing, trouble breathing, unusual consciousness, and excessive tiredness are some warning signs and your child should certainly be taken to the emergency room immediately. I am not a medical professional, so of course this isn’t meant to be taken as medical advice, but if you’re interested to learn more, “secondary drowning” is the term you could research more if you’re worried or interested.

      However, like I mentioned, swallowing some water is not really an issue, that is unless you are worried about the cleanliness of the water! But always exercise caution and beware that your baby does not BREATH in the water and, if she does, monitor her very closely for an unusual or worrisome symptoms and have her checked out by a medical professional immediately if you suspect anything.

      Good luck teaching your little one!

      • Julia says:

        Thank you for your quick reply! ! I just found it!! I have been practicing with her everyday and she isn’t blowing bubbles yet, but I do 1 2 3 under and put her under but just her mouth! She loves it! Sometimes she swallows water but not alot! Sometimes if we are practicing bubbles she will get water up her nose and she coughs but sometimes she doesn’t so maybe she is blowing out!! My husband has blown in her face and dunked her a few times and she likes it but its not teaching her to hold her breath! ! Guess we will keep trying to blow bubbles! !!

      • Elizabeth says:

        I know this is way late as a comment, but I just wanted to say that swallowing too much water CAN be dangerous. It’s called water intoxication and it can be fatal. I doubt most kids would swallow anywhere close to enough to be at risk, but if they were constantly swallowing it during very long sessions, it could be possible. I would recommend keeping the swimming sessions relatively short to avoid this.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_intoxication

        • Kim says:

          Yes. Thank you for clarifying this. Swallowing too much water can be fatal. I’m quoting my ISR handbook here: “According to the medical literature on this subject, most reported cases of water intoxication have occurred when a child is in a “swimming lesson” that lasted 40 minutes or more.”

  17. Concerned patent says:

    I think what you r showing and telling patents to do is vary dangerous !!! This is an infant survival technique that only should be thought by trained individuals who know what they are doing. This is not something that a patent can do alone without any training in their own backyard. And they will be risking the lives of their children if they try! Parents please do not attempt this on your own contact your local ISR trainer you can look them up own the web.

    • domanmom says:

      This post is not about teaching an infant survival technique – it is about teaching your baby how to swim (underwater), enjoy aquatics, and be physically active. There is no expectation that the baby will be able to save himself if he fell into a pool unsupervised, nor should there EVER be for any baby, even one who has had ISR training. The ISR clearly states this on their site:

      http://www.infantswim.com/water-safety/water-safety-information.html

      I believe the truly dangerous advice is the assumption that ISR or any other infant survival swimming technique will water-proof your baby. ISR can be beneficial and maybe even provide a very small “safety net”, but it by no means guarantees your baby’s survival. The only fail-safe form of protection is 100% attentive adult supervision.

      • Sheila says:

        Neither ISR, nor their instructors teach that this is a “save all” method…nothing is so I absolutely agree with what you are saying here. However, drowning happens in a matter of seconds and is silent. No screaming and arms waving like in the movies, and with small children no huge splash. Just look at tub drownings alone, or how about coolers, 2 inches of water is all it takes. 100% PARENT supervision is the only fail-safe as you said, no one watches your children like you do. Just PLEASE know where every pool is in your neighborhood, all water sources including drainage ditches, have babysitters empty baby pools, know if your doggy door is connected to your home alarm system, and at BBQs/parties never assume someone else is watching the kids. I think the main point of ISR and other survival type programs is to teach out the panic response. You can be right with your child and even pick them out of the water as quickly as you possibly could- but if they panic and inhale quickly even if they don’t drown they can have lasting brain damage.

        • Kim says:

          Reading some of the comments on the ISR website and in the handbook is scary. One mom and dad watched their son run down a hill with a puppy, who tripped him and he went tumbling into a cold pond. the parents were down there in a jiffy but when dad entered the water he sank thigh high in mud and couldn’t move. Their son had ISR training and came to the surface on his own and was able to swim the foot or so to his dad’s waiting arms to be pulled from the water.

          ISR also tells the parents, if your children are “missing” check the pool first. No child is drown-proof. Teaching them to swim or save themselves by whatever method you choose to use is one tool they have to prevent disaster. But it all starts with the parents.

          And parents have been teaching kids to swim for THOUSANDS of years. ISR is just one of many methods and while we personally chose to use it, not all parents can afford it or agreed 100%. Having my child go through ISR lessons, i don’t see anything “wrong” with what this site is telling you. Go slow and listen to your child. Where’s the harm in that?

  18. Salynn says:

    As I think it is great that your son did well, and you suggest to take it slow I do encourage parents to take a class to teach their babies do to the differences between children. I taught lessons for years and the biggest thing we were careful with is how many times a child was put under water to where he or she could swallow or inhale water, as both are bad for their health. ( http://voices.yahoo.com/dry-drowning-kids-signs-symptoms-prevention-5903432.html) We as instructors could be in a great deal of trouble if a child would experience “parking lot” drowning which you refer to as second drowning, which may not result in death but could cause server mental handicaps do to the loss of oxygen. I have a 20 month old and she loves the water, and I think the biggest thing is making sure they are comfortable in the water and do not rely on floatations devices, and dont push them. Just some stats there was over 3’800 drowning deaths last year of children under 4 years of age, 15% of those were parking lot drownings. Also over 5,400 drowning non death incidents were reported to kids under 4 and 20% of those were parking lot drownings events. Just be aware parents, know everything before jumping in the water, but have fun.

  19. Tenika says:

    This is great! My mom taugh me to swim when I was a baby! It’s something I want for my kids as well. Like you said, it’s not a safety net but swimming is something everyone should know how to do, why not start young?
    I don’t ever remember learning to swim I just always could. I’m totally comfortable around water (unless there’s fish… I hate the thought of that) and I’m completely confident.

    I’m sorry for the grief people are giving you about this post. Ultimately parents need to be parents and use their best judgement.
    I just wanted to chime in as someone who has been through it. I’m 24 now and how many people can say they learned to swim before they could walk? This kid can :)

  20. Samantha says:

    I think that this is awesome. Im going to try it with our little guy! we have been working with him letting him jump in the pool and go under then pull him up quickly and he seems to Love it! I do not think what you are doing is dangerous at all! As a mother(parent) Its our job to teach our children how to do things. NOT everything needs to be taught by “professionals” GOOD JOB! :)

  21. Kathryn says:

    Great post, my 8 month old daughter seems to love the taste of our salt water pool! She also still swallows water and after taking it slowly she swilled it and then throws up a bunch of her formula sometimes almost projectile, any advice? TIA!

  22. Katrina says:

    My daughter is 21 and taught her how to swim when she was 11 months. Many of the techniques you use are the same ones that I used with her. She was a water bug then and she is a water bug now. We are now teaching her 11 month old to swim and be comfortable in the water and he is loving it!! And I do agree with you that parents should never let any form of water safety lessons or swim lessons take the place of 100% parental supervision around any body of water. Great job with you son. He looks like he loves it.

  23. Kimmi says:

    I am not comfortable putting my child in the water this way, but that little boy is so cute when he goes under the water, adorable!!!

  24. Barbara Holloway says:

    This is amazing.. When a baby jumps into the water the first thing they do is hold their breath and it makes it much easier for the parents to try other ideas after they have learn to jump off from the side of the pool with parents help of course. Great learning tool for everyone. Thanks for sharing this with everyone!

  25. MamaMedic says:

    Actually swallowing too much water (going into the stomach vs ‘aspiration’ which is to breathe it in) CAN be life-threatening if they get enough of it. If your baby is throwing up after swallowing water, they’ve had too much and aren’t ready to go under or need to be doing it fewer times/less duration of time. Whether babies drink too much water, or swallow it in a pool/lake/river/bath, something called ‘water intoxication’ can occur. Too much water ends up in their bloodstream and it washes needed sodium out of the body. Sodium is needed to remove excess water from the body, remove urea waste in urine, as well as it being essential in the action of muscles, especially the heart (google ‘sodium-potassium pump’). Here’s a link to a Children’s hospital article about water intoxication:

    http://www.stlouischildrens.org/articles/wellness/water-intoxication-in-infants

    In the article they caution against babies swimming underwater, however, water intoxication is actually uncommon, and if properly monitored, there’s no reason a baby couldn’t go under in MY mind (not meant to be a medical reccomendation) a few times, as long as they are in fact holding their breath. You should take it easy when teaching them and stop after you think they may have taken in a couple ounces of water.

    Having worked drownings, near drownings, dry-drownings (which are most common in salt water – the salt stays in the lungs and actually pulls water from their blood into the lungs causing suffocation hours after the exposure), whether a child is able to swim or not, it is MOST important to teach kids NEVER to go near water without a parent/your permission, then provide physical barriers to prevent it. Fences, pool alarms (go off when the surface tension is broken), LIFEJACKETS ALWAYS on boats, never leave toys in the pool that a child may fall while trying to reach, and utmost important LEARN CPR. I have never been able to resuscitate a child who drowned in warm water (warmer than 40 degrees) who didn’t get CPR from the moment they were removed from the pool. We cannot get there fast enough to save your childs’ brain…someone HAS TO start the process sooner. Resus of a child/infant in a warm drowning is already nearly impossible. No CPR makes it certain they won’t be coming back.

    I have a 9 month old son. I intend to teach him all of the above, as well as helping him learn to hold his breath and giving him a little bit of freedom in the water. But I will do it cautiously, because I know what can happen, I’ve seen it. However, each and every parent has to make their own decision on what is right for their child/them, and does so based on their own experiences and information they glean from places like their Pedi, family and the internet.

    • Sheila says:

      Thank you for posting this! This blog has be extremely concerned about these children swallowing water and falling into hyponatremia. Also holding their breath and blacking out…or fading out the natural need for air. Underwater anyone- children or not- should WANT air. Children should not be responding to the pain caused when the body runs out of air as the response to surface, they should be on a safe schedule of a few seconds before this pain happens. Given all the personal information of the blogger, and at the very least IP address I sincerely hope you have legal advisement on the page in case something- God forbid were to happen to anyone taking your instructions.

  26. Joy says:

    My children have completed the ISR program. This program is not for everyone but for anyone who wants to teach their infants or toddlers to swim should either do thorough research like you seemed to do before making a decision on what was best for you and your family or have someone who is trained to teach their children how to swim safely. Before taking on the job of teaching your children how to swim, you need to learn how to do it safely.

    ISR has very strict safety protocols including avoiding certain foods that may cause your child discomfort in the water, never allowing your child to be underwater for more than a few seconds, keeping lessons short since children have very short attention spans (lessons are only 10 minutes), instructors monitor for temperature and physical fatigue, etc.

    My son was the same proportions as your son and was able to successfully complete the program at 11 months. It did take him longer to complete the program for a variety of reasons, mainly illness. The whole program is sensory based and it teaches your child to instinctively roll over in the water to float if they feel threatened or scared instead of panicking.

    Regardless of what method you choose, you should do thorough research so you know how to keep your child safe in the water while teaching them water skills.

    (I accidentally posted this same comment on your other post about ISR after I left another comment, sorry about that-feel free to delete it! I just wanted to leave a comment on this post too since I was concerned that a parent might decide to submerge their child in water without doing more research about water safety first.)

  27. [...] heat at some local pools.  I have wondered how best to introduce Eli to the water.  I ran across this mom’s blog about teaching babies to swim.  While it seems a little scary, I think her methods [...]

  28. Julie says:

    This is fantastic! Thank you for writing it out so clearly. I have been working on blowing bubbles with my son (he’s 13 months) and hes just starting to get the hang of it. Looks like we will be starting bobs this week!

  29. Laura says:

    Thanks for posting this. I agree that the only way to keep a child safe in the water is a parents full attention! I also let my boys go under water and pull them up. They both now love the water with no fear if their head goes underwater, which is great for my now 3 year old who is learning how to swim on his own.

  30. Amanda says:

    I, personally, will not let my child go into or around water at his age of 12 months, without being in my arms at all times. Just me being me. But if I was going to teach him how to swim, I wouldn’t completely throw out the ideas that were presented in this post. I think that they were carefully thought out. It’s every parents right to choose for themselves how they teach their OWN child about things in life (obviously water/swimming being one of those). I just don’t think there’s any way I could do any kind of lesson yet. Scares the crap out of me thinking about something bad happening to my little man. But I also wanted to point out that this post, ON SEVERAL occassions, says that you SHOULD NEVER leave your child unattended, for all of you bashing this woman sharing her experience. She obviously has nothing but the best intentions for her child if she is making it clear to never leave your child alone in the water. And if you never do that, then there should be no problems of even having to worry about your child drowning.

  31. heidi says:

    I have an almost 2 year old and an in ground pool in our back yard. I wanted your video and it really petrifies me. I wish I had your confidence. Heck, I wish you lived in my city, I’d pay you to come swim in my pool and teach my little one.

  32. Misty says:

    My son, August, has been in swimming lessons for a few weeks and just turned a year old. He can hold his breath underwater, because ever since the first lesson his instructor would say “1, 2, 3!” and gently blow in his face before putting him underwater. After about two lessons he immediately knows to hold his breath when he goes underwater.

  33. Elizabeth says:

    My mother had my 3 brothers and I in swimming lessons from 6 months of age. Obviously I was too small to remember my own lessons but I remember watching my youngest brother go through them. He had his fair share of crying but he also had a ton of laughing too. I think this introduction to water at such a young age is essential for children. You hear all the time about these tragic drowning accidents involving children and I feel like many of them could have been prevented if these kids were in some swim lessons early on. You don’t hand over a ton of money for a special coach, they don’t need to be Olympians, but having a comfort with water and knowing what to do if you fall in is extremely important for a child. My brothers and I all were on swim teams until we were out of high school and I contribute that love and comfort in the water to our mom swimming with us at such a young age. Some day I hope to do the same with my children.

  34. [...] Swimming: Swimming activities using Glenn Doman’s How to Teach Your Baby to Swim. Right now this involves swimming underwater (by himself), back floating, jumping in the pool, climbing out of the pool, splashing, and being cute. Will hopefully be able to keep up our fantastic summer progress over the winter and during our travels. You can read about our activities here. [...]

  35. Lacy says:

    Thanks for the post and especially the video. I have been working all summer with my eleventh month old. He loves to swim but I can’t really get him to close his mouth. He pushes away from me wanting to swim on his own it seems, but it seems that he swallows water sometimes. I get nervous and don’t really let him go under because I can’t tell if its safe or not. I did notice from your video that your baby doesn’t close his mouth a lot but doesn’t come up coughing water either. Is going underwater with their mouths open pretty common? Do they learn to push water out even while their mouth is open? Thanks!

    • domanmom says:

      I don’t really know what is “common” as this is my first baby teaching how to swim and I don’t have much experience with other peoples’ babies. But I know for my son he tends to keep his mouth (and eyes) open when he goes under but it doesn’t bother him. He doesn’t swallow the water (anymore) or breath it in, he just lets it fall out of his mouth when he comes up. I would just watch your baby closely for signs of swallowing or inhaling, go with your gut instinct, if you notice him swallowing too much or too often, maybe stop the dunking for that day and try again tomorrow. Babies are smart and pick up pretty quickly on the idea!

  36. Sanjushka says:

    o my G, i can t belive, i’m trying this definitly with my baby.

  37. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for this information. After rescuing a child from drowning last week, I have been desperately trying to figure out how to teach my toddler to swim. I am SO TIRED of hearing people push ISR as the only way. If ISR was so committed to preventing loss of life through drowning, why wouldn’t they make their program affordable for more families? I get that the instructors have put in a lot of time and money into obtaining certification, but I wish they were more willing to share the technique for parents who wish to teach their children on their own.

  38. Amy Gilbert says:

    Hello there!

    I have tried reading through every one of the comments above to be able to give my professional input on swimming lessons. I am an Authorized Provider for the American Red Cross in Orange County California and have been teaching lessons for over 9 years to an abundant amount of students! I teach private swim lessons with my company “Swim To You.”

    I have studied numerous amounts of techniques to see what is actually “better” and by far, the Red Cross has one of the best. ISR is not for everyone and can actually traumatize certain kids. I know this personally because I have been called by MANY parents to get their children happy and comfortable back in the water after horrible experiences. Once a child is traumatized by improper training, it takes sometimes YEARS (experience speaking) to get them happy and comfortable back in the water so they can enjoy swimming and be completely safe.

    First off, parents: Do not teach your child how to swim (under 2 years old) until you have been properly trained by a professional certified swim instructor, “Water Safety Instructors” with the American Red Cross are the way to go! I personally teach parent and child classes towards the beginning of my lessons (with children under 3) so the parents know exactly how to handle their child and how to NOT dunk them. There is a proper way to submerge children under water, and dunking them, as shown in the video, is absolutely NOT correct. Water can be lodged into a cavity in their noses that aren’t completely formed until they are about 2, if dunked incorrectly, and while the child is napping, the water can begin to drip into their throat, causing them to drown in their sleep. Swim instructors (GOOD ONES) are taught SAFETY being number 1!

    The only time you teach kids to hold their breath, is when they are more advanced swimmers and they know how to breathe, NOT through their mouths but out of their noses. Kids learn through mimicking, so it is very important to be at face level with them and first teach how to “blow” with their mouths using all sorts of techniques. From their, you move to “humming” (close your lips together and “hum” (sing) and they will be able to stay under water MUCH longer than using their mouths.

    To answer a question above from the original poster, many toddlers and babies will keep their mouths open under water and will not get water inside. I’m assuming because their throats are closed. I have numerous pictures that make me wonder “how do they not get water in their mouths!” It is very important to teach kids how to blow out when they are resurfacing from being submerged. If they do not, this is when they get water in mouths/noses and start coughing or choking. We sometimes use a candle blowing technique where we use a finger as a candle and have them “blow out the candle” – eventually you lower the finger in the water and have them blow the candle out until they blow hard enough where you bend the finger in. Blowing from a bubble wand also helps to teach it. Also, they you run water over their head, make sure they are blowing out and not drinking the water.

    Floating is one of the hardest things to teach! Some kids will pick it up with a snap of a finger while others will take a VERY long time. It’s all about getting them to relax – so of course you want them to lay still and not tense up, so start with them on your shoulder at water level until they get more comfortable. Singing quietly “twinkle twinkle little start” helps. Using a giant float (GIANT “kickboard like” item) and have them start out of the water laying like a starfish then slowly move it in the water. Another thing, they can also hold the back of their head to feel more comfortable.

    Remember: Every child is different! Some kids are natural born fish and will pick up everything very easily while others will take a very long time – I have some 2 year olds that can actually swim, by themselves, SAFELY which is the key word – and swim to the side to get out by themselves. They can also float on their back and swim on their backs. They are trained to call for help and are trained to know where all of the safety zones in the pool are so they can easily get themselves out. I also have 5 year olds that won’t put their heads under.

    If anyone has any difficulty with their own kids and wants advice, please ask and I have answers!! I pride myself in what I do and I LOVE it! I highly recommend private lessons versus group lessons if you want your child to learn proper techniques at a much younger age. The younger you introduce them to water, the more comfortable they will be when doing swimming lessons!

    HAPPY, SAFE SWIMMING!!!!

    It is late, so I hope I included everything I wanted to ( :

  39. ally says:

    i think babies can get used to the water and learn to swim. i’m 27 and i learned to swim before i could walk too. we lived in a beach town in costa rica when i was born. someone took me from my mom (aunt, uncle, friend- can’t remember who my mom said it was) and held me airplane style and dunked me – not straight up and down, but like when you play airplane (sideways- top of head going first). my mom was terrified but since it only lasted a second and i came up enjoying myself, my mom knew i was fine. i was a waterbug from then on.

    so my not so pleasant opinion is that not all parents are going to be able to do this on their own and should most certainly not try it without instruction, but for those that can i think they just need to be patient and not force the child too fast or to do things they are not comfortable with in the water. (that was actually the nice version of what i was thinking.)

  40. jenia says:

    That is great. Unfortunatelly I found Glenn Doman method when my daughter is closer to 2. I have been taking her to the pool since 5 month and she loves water, but she doesn’t like to go under the water. Do you think there is a special method to teach 2 year old on how to dive? I know they have a book but I want to hear an opinion?thank you

  41. Jenny Hatch says:

    Thanks for this post! My son is almost 6months and we have been going to the pool for the past month and 1/2 about once a week. He really enjoys it and I have started dunking him but, I am wondering how to best teach him to hold his breathe so he doesn’t inhale water? Any specific advise with this?
    Thanks again,
    Jenny

  42. Rebecca says:

    I am so excited about this. I have searched and searched for someone to teach my fifteen month old son. We live in a small rural community though and the closest licensed teachers are over an hour and half away plus they want to teach at least three times per week. Can’t wait to get started maybe I can get accomplished before fall sets in. THANKS so much for your HELPFUL information!!!

  43. Sheila says:

    Seeing this on pinterest got my attention right away. Do you not feel this is a dangerous thing to put into so many peoples hands? I don’t know your personal training and experience, but you don’t know how many parents completely uneducated on the risks and dangers associated with teaching children to “swim” and see this blog as a tutorial to try it on their own. I did not see anything on your page regarding hyponatremia which is one of the highest risks and leading causes of death associated with swim lessons across the country. I read every posts and see your perspective on the survival based methods. I also understand as a mother the desire to have fun and let the child enjoy the water. The simple fact of the matter however is that drowning IS the leading cause of death among infants and young children. In having fun only children do not learn water and the pool/lake/river is not a play area. Children should not have fear instilled (fear is learned and these survival methods do not teach fear or encourage it they teach respect) or be afraid but they should know how to survive in the water before playing. Your child can swim with you in the pool- great, Your child can swim across the pool- great. What happens when they fall in a different size pool, one with jets and currents, a river, a tub? Please do not be like so many parents and think “this won’t happen to me” because of the three parents I personally know who lost children that is exactly what they thought- and all three of their children could swim. What happened is the children panicked…there is a huge difference in mommy taking me in the pool and we have fun and all the sudden I’m in the water without anyone. I speak from both sides of experience- I started with mommy and me classes, my son cried. Lessons with just an instructor, my son cried. Both classes he reached back toward the toys in the pool afterwards. We went to ISR lessons and watched in person after seeing on youtube and being skeptical- I highly encourage you to do the same. There is 45 years of psychological and physiological research. ISR instructors are not teaching cry it out at all, in fact if you watched 6 weeks worth of lessons you would see the children start with crying- which is from being in a new environment to survival and confidence. Some do still cry mainly out of not wanting to work, but as a parent I WANT my child to cry if they hit the water. Drowning is silent and fast. My son at 8 months old knew how to roll himself over and float. At 14 months he now does this and the sequence of flipping back over to swim for 4 seconds and rolling over to float again and continuing until he is picked up or at the steps and then pulls himself out. Do I believe I will always be there, yes, do I think he will ever need these skills, I pray not..but so did our neighbors who child got through their doggy door in the middle of the night and into another neighbors pool. The only thing I can associate all this with is shots. I hate them, I don’t 100% trust them, but I do the best I know how based off the best knowledge I can get. Does my son cry yes, but am I doing something to prevent something much worse from happening..I pray so. In the end we may never know, and in the end hopefully we never find out otherwise, but I would rather be on the side of safety than fun.

    • domanmom says:

      I appreciate your concern, but I personally still stand behind the fact that a baby or toddler is never, ever, ever safe in or around water without the constant, unwavering supervision of a parent. I do not for one minute believe that a baby trained in ISR is “water proof” or will be able to save themselves necessarily. If a 10 month old took an ISR course and then two months later he climbed into a pool while his parents were watching TV, I do not for one minute believe that there is any guarantee that he will even remember the techniques, much less be able to perform the technique with perfection until his parents find him. Babies’ memories are very short, as well as many other factors: he could hit his head and pass out, accidentally choke on too much water, or even if he was sitting and floating for a period of time, what are the chances his parents will hear him cry, especially since they probably aren’t anywhere near the water since he snuck out there by himself? What if he was supposed to be napping and the parents never thought to look for him? I do understand the sentiment that ANY sort of “protection” against drowning is better than NO protection against drowning, but I do not believe that ISR offers genuine protection and I also believe that the fear (or as you call it, “respect”) instilled about water is not worth the hopeful benefit that one day it “might” possibly save them if they ever got out of your sight. The aquatic environment is a wonderful place for a baby to thrive and has so many physical and other benefits to offer a child, and that is what I want for my child. To each his own, of course, and I do understand both sides of the issue, however this is the path I have chosen for my children and I do believe it is a legitimate one.

  44. Steph says:

    This is the exact method I used when I was a swimming teacher for 5 years, starting from 6months to 2 years. Most of my 2 year olds could swim 5 or more meters by themselves. From 6 months we encouraged parents to hold kids under their arms on their bellies and then encourage them to roll onto their backs whilst holding them to get them used to the sensation! Good list :)

  45. blanca lopez says:

    Hi I have a 9 month year old baby and I would like to teach him how to swim. Would you have any info. of where can I teach my baby to swim?

  46. Nicole says:

    Thanks heaps for this blog! I am teaching a 1 year old how to swim and I have found that the technique that you used is the best. The way that you set this blog out is so easy to follow and very effective. Thanks for taking the time out to write this blog that I think has helped lots of parents! :)

  47. [...] In the video I posted last summer (Damien was 12 months) he swam, but tended to sort of swim down rather than up. [...]

  48. Rebbeca says:

    I have a little boy, he is 6 months and I want to start teaching him to float but he doesn’t know how to hold his breath and I wanted to know how do teach him how? I don’t really want him to choke on the water to learn how. I might have missed it in what u wrote, I had to read it really fast :/

  49. Christy says:

    My son is almost 4 months old, and we are nowhere near introducing him to swimming. He does enjoy bath time a lot, but the idea of putting him (or any other baby) underwater for any amount of time terrifies me to the point of tears. I want him to love swimming, and to be a safe, responsible swimmer but I’m not sure how to get over my own fears first.

  50. [...] to me.  The big slide at the Hard Rock Hotel is another favorite.  Waterbaby!  I thank this guide for her [...]

  51. Amber says:

    We started again the waterbabies swimming class. LO has done it before when he was 10 months old now doing it again at 2.5 years old. He doesn’t remember what we did in class of course when he was 10 months but now at 2.5 years old and this is out 6 session. The routine is pretty repetitive. When we get to the part when we do “humpy dumpy” which requires him to sit on the wall and then jump in from sitting position, he doesn’t even want to climb out. He would push his hand and feet away from the wall. The next part is for him to jump in the water from standing position and I would sit him out of the water, but when its time to come in, he would scoot in the water versus jumping it. I don’t know what to do about this

  52. Megan says:

    Would you ever recommend inflatables to help with swimming? Arm bands, baby seats ect? Just interested to hear you opinion on them

    And will definitely be trying a little of this method next time I take my water baby swimming :)

    • domanmom says:

      In the Doman book they discourage using inflatables because it gives the child’s brain inaccurate, false information about how to swim. When the inflatables are removed, the way the child’s brain was wired to move in the water was “wrong” and the child cannot swim. Not only can he not swim, but you have actually created a BAD HABIT which is harder to break (undo) than if there was no habit at all.

      I for the most part agree with this. I know that when my oldest son was little he was given inflatable arm and chest bands to “swim” with (at someone else’s house), so when I would try and teach him how to swim without it, he had a difficult time. With most inflatables all the child has to do is kick their legs to “swim” around in the water – their entire upper body is immobile. They are also “swimming” vertically rather than horizontally, which is another bad habit and very hard to do without inflatables. It is a hard habit to break as of course the upper body is VERY important in actually swimming!

      Of course if you are boating or other similar activities, a proper life jacket for safety purposes is ALWAYS in order. But when it comes to teaching your baby how to swim in one-on-one lessons, I don’t recommend flotation devices.

      I also used to use a baby floatation seat for my infant son when I would take both of my kids to the pool (without dad) and give the oldest son a lesson while the youngest son sat in the baby seat (RIGHT next to me of course, it just freed up my hands to work with the older one, but I was still closely supervising the baby and he was closer than arm’s reach).

  53. Amber says:

    I have enrolled my son in back to back swimming lessons since February 2013. At the end of the last class that he had on 5/18 was the last class and another class wont start until 6/22. I was worried that my son would forget what he had learned since it will be 6 weeks into the next. At the last class, he was already comfortable about going under water and would even count before going under water. Will be forget or would be have to start the process all over again?

  54. [...] safe, clean body of water, a loving parent, and a little insight on some simple techniques. And, well, a [...]

  55. Stephanie says:

    Oh this is soo wonderful, my son (18 months) started dunking his head in the pool and it made me a little nervous to say the least I wasnt expecting it, he went from clutching me to being very brave and really wanting to swim in a couple weeks. This gives me confidence that I can safely teach him some swimming skills.

  56. savannah says:

    Hi.. my little brother is 2 and we have gotton him in the pool many times but it seems that when we try to get him to swim he wont let us put him under like you do in the video.. when he does let us he seem to breath water up his nose and begins to choke on water. i was wondering how you get them to stop that habbit..

    • My best suggestion is to use some of the tips I outlined in the article, such as:

      1. Starting off my only putting a small portion of his mouth under water, such as only his bottom lip.

      2. Submerging him very, very briefly, only for a split second.

      3. Practice blowing bubbles in the water, so that he learns to not suck the water in.

      4. Another tip is to try holding him HORIZONTALLY (rather than vertically) over to water before dipping him in briefly. When a child goes under vertically, sometimes the water automatically rushes into their mouth and nose, and if they don’t know how to hold their breath or blow out, they will be swallowing water or having it go up their nose. When a child goes into the water HORIZONTALLY, the water does not automatically rush into their nose and mouth, especially if they only go under briefly. This is a trick I have used with my little one many times, especially during times where we went several weeks without a swim lesson and he wasn’t used to going under, I would dip him in horizontally to get him used to it again.

      I hope this helps and good luck!

  57. Sarah says:

    Just wanted to say thank you! My little guy has become so much more comfortable in the water using these tips. Thanks for posting pictures and video too. The Doman book was very helpful, but I’m a “see it” kind of person. We went under together today with no tears and big smiles!!! 2 months of swim class couldn’t do that. So grateful!!

  58. Diana says:

    Hi. I’ve been teaching my daughter to dive and swim since she was 7 days old. First in the bathtub and then transitioned to the pool around 1m. She’s 6m now and I’ve been doing it every day until she was 5m. Now I only can do it twice a week. She used to be ok with being under water for about 5-7 seconds, but now that I out her under water after a few dives she makes an awful burp sound like her lungs are about to blow up (it’s a really scary sound) and throws up a lot of water.. So I’m not sure if she lost the skill as I’m doing it less frequent..or what’s going on? She doesn’t cry or nothing.. I’m pretty fearless..but hearing that sound really freaks me out.. May be anyone has this happen to their kids and how did u try to fix it? I’m just assuming she’s inhaling all that water. But again if she was she would probably be choking once I take her out. Any ideas?

  59. […] to Teach Your Baby to Swim: From Birth…, Douglasa Domana i wspieram się też blogiem DomanMum.com Zależy mi, żeby mały nauczył się pływać nie tylko ‘pieskiem’. Sama za młodu […]

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  61. Thank you so much dear very helpful topic. And all swimming techniques and methods are very good and easy. One of the best and ideal methods to teach swimming our child is passing underwater. Kindly tell me that my son is one year old and is passing underwater is useful for him to learn swimming

  62. Emma says:

    Hi there. This is so much brilliant information. I’ve taken by 4 month old swimming once so far and he loved it. I don’t want to pay out £220 for a total of 6 hours of lessons when I can teach him myself! I’m very confident in the water myself. When I was reading this I saw that it’s aimed at babies who are on the second stage of being in the swimming pool but no where can I find the first stage? Do you know what I mean? Do you know of anything I can do to get him onto this stage? Thanks

  63. […] if it is indeed safe for your kid to swim at a very young age. Well then, the answer is yes. With proper training, your child will never be harmed and will surely enjoy this water […]

  64. Julia says:

    Great tips and advice for those wishing to teach their own child. Lessons can be very expensive so this will help a lot of parents out. Many Thanks, Julia :)

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