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Baby steps: How to introduce young children to the pool

Introducing a child to a swimming pool can either be really difficult or all too easy. On the one hand, a parent might have a hard time keeping little ones away from the big, shiny body of water. On the other, the child might be terrified to go near it. Either way, pool owners need to educate their children to promote safety and minimize risk. Here are some tips to help parents introduce their children to the water.

Babies can interact with the pool water as early as 6 months old, suggested Safe Kids. A parent or guardian should be beside them at all times and also change water diapers frequently. Although they may enjoy the water during infancy, it could be an entirely different experience for them when they become toddlers or older.

Pool code of conduct
It's typically during this time period that children are taught swimming lessons. The first lesson that parents give should be on safety. Teaching a child the risks of water can save his or her life. Guardians should enforce household rules that only permit a child to swim if he or she has a supervisor. Even the most experienced of swimmers should have someone watch over them, affirmed Safe Kids.

In addition to the guardian rule, parents should make several others. Not only should kids be banned from entering the gated pool area alone, but they should refrain from running and pushing, stated Kids Health. They can also learn the value of showering before and after each swim as well as the importance of sunscreen.

Furthermore, this is a good time for parents to break down the basics of the swimming pool. They can teach children about the various depths. A marker or obvious object that can't be removed can be placed by the deep end so kids associate it with a part of the water in which they aren't able to stand. Because many kids need a life jacket or a type of flotation device to assist them during the process, parents should instruct children on how to use them.

Jumping right in
Once safety rules are in place, parents can continue lessons by the pool but they don't need to get in the water yet. Young children should dangle their feet in the pool to get used to it, Lana Whitehead, the Founder of SwimKids USA in Phoenix, told

Parents should hold children and even distract them with toys, if necessary, during the first few times in the water, suggested Daily Mom. This will make them feel safer initially and then once they're used to it they'll be able to stand up on their own. When they get comfortable enough to get in, parents can take steps to introduce them to submersion.

Going under water is a big deal so it should be handled a little at a time. They'll need to understand that they have to hold their breath when they're not above the surface. To make kids get used to water being around their noses and mouths, parents can sprinkle a little water over their heads instead of immediately encouraging them to put their whole head in the pool, stated Whitehead.

Parents can encourage bubble blowing above the water while also showing kids how to put different parts of their heads in the water, suggested The Daily Mom. Parents should never force submersion if it's something the child isn't ready to do.

The pool can be used as a reward. Kids who are eager to learn more water techniques can earn them by demonstrating that they know the rules and respect safety measures. Once these preliminary steps are achieved, parents can move on to breath holding techniques and eventually swimming lessons.