Water familiarisation

Introducing children to water in ‘fun’ ways, in the familiar surroundings of their own home can help children learn to enjoy water safely throughout their lives. This is a process that can start from birth.

Water play can start as soon as the baby is established in the home. Bathing is a gentle way to introduce your baby to water, being supported in warm water can be a wonderful experience. Sessions should be non-stressful, warm, short and above all be comprised of enjoyable activities that are fun.

The titles listed below offer advice on specific skills you can help your child to achieve in the water.

Note: WSNZ recommends that babies under 6 months of age do not go into public swimming pools unless under professional guidance.

Objective: Water Familiarisation – Infants 0–3 Years

Water Safety Knowledge

6–12 months

ALWAYS – swim with an adult.

12–14 months

ALWAYS – swim with an adult.

24–36 months.

ALWAYS – swim with an adult.

Parent Education

6–12 months

ALWAYS – supervise children near water.

12–14 months

ALWAYS – supervise children near water.

24–36 months

ALWAYS – supervise children near water.

Getting In and Out with Mum and Dad

6–12 months

With support enter the pool from a seated position.

Move along the pool edge (hand over hand) with or without assistance.

12–14 months

Enter and exit the water safely with your child.

24–36 months

With support enter the pool from a seated position using a quarter turn.

Exit the water unassisted.

Balance

6–12 months

Gently rock, turn and/or tow your baby through the water.

Hold your baby under armpits with head out of water and roll gently from side to side, back to front and front to back.

12–14 months

Hold your baby under armpits with head out of water and roll from side to side, back to front and front to back, maintain eye contact and gentle movement.

24–36 months

Assist and encourage your child holding a floatation aid.

Breathing

6–12 months

With a sponge or cup of water gently sponge your child so that water trickles over your child’s head and body. Use the following cue prior to prepare your child: “child’s name, 1, 2, 3, go”.

Experience and initiate putting water on the face, head and body by squeezing a sponge saturated with water or a cup over your child’s forehead with the above cue.

12–14 months

Practise and encourage your child blowing bubbles at and below the surface.

24–36 months

Blow bubbles in any body position and inhale through mouth just above the surface.

Leg and Arm Action

6–12 months

While holding child‘s legs move legs up and down with your assistance and encouragement.

12–14 months

Encourage splashing and kicking legs.

While holding child‘s legs just above the knee, support child’s legs to kick.

24–36 months

Encourage kicking while holding a floatation aid i.e. kick board, ball.

Encourage leg and arm movements.

Underwater

6–12 months

Hold your baby under armpits with head out and glide your baby along the water surface i.e. surface glides.

12–14 months

Hold your baby under armpits with head out and glide your baby along the water surface i.e. surface glides.

24–36 months

Child voluntarily submerges with encouragement.

Floating

6–12 months

Rest child’s head on your shoulder and hold ‘cheek to cheek’. Gently move in water with babies hips supported.

12–14 months

Cradle child on back by holding the flats of your hands under child’s back and neck, gently move backwards and forwards in the water.

24–36 months

Hold child with the flats of your hands under child’s neck, gently walk backwards in the water.