How to Teach an Infant to Float in Water

by Si Kingston

Teaching your infant to swim will not only allow her to feel comfortable in water at an early age, but help ensure her safety while she is in the water. Before you teach your infant to float, familiarize yourself with CPR, ensure she is in good health, apply sunscreen of SPF 15 or greater to her body to protect her skin, make sure the water temperature is between 85 to 92 degrees, and keep ear drops on hand to prevent infections.

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Step 1

Place yourself in the water, and hold the infant underneath the arms. Allow her arms to hug your shoulders as if she is hugging you.

Step 2

Walk backwards in the pool while still holding her, so she gets the sensation of motion. Use your hands to guide her legs into a kicking motion while you move backwards.

Step 3

Place your dominant hand on her back, and the other hand of her chest.

Step 4

Count to three and then blow in her face continuously as you quickly dip her face in the water for one to two seconds. Keep holding onto her while she is submerged in the water. Then bring her back up to your chest and relax before trying again.

Step 5

Reposition your hands on her back and chest. Count to three, blow in her face again, and submerge her face. This time let go of her body for one to two seconds. This will allow her to see that she can float.

Step 6

Place the baby in front of you, with one of your hands under each of her arms.

Step 7

Count to three and blow in the baby's face. Lift her completely out of the water, then turn her over on her back.

Step 8

Place your weaker hand underneath her head, and use your dominant hand to reassure her. Make her stay in this position even if she squirms and fusses. If she begins to sink, gently push her back to the surface with your hand and try it again until she relaxes and begins to float on your own.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your infant inhales water, place your hand on her stomach and face her mouth toward the ground. Pat her back several times to encourage her to spit up. Then hold her to calm her down.
  • While trying to teach your infant to float, it is possible that she will become fussy. This could be the result of cold water temperatures or if she becomes scared. If necessary, place her on the edge or the steps of the pool and allow her legs to dangle in the water until she calms down. Then slowly introduce the rest of her body to the water. Make sure to hold her so she feels secure while you follow the steps described above. Only remove your hands from her body after she is calm.
  • Never leave the infant unattended in the water. Always keep your hands within one foot of the infant in case you need to pull her out of the water.

Photo Credits

  • Goodshoot RF/Goodshoot/Getty Images