Swimming is an essential life skill and, as parents, we can play a big role in helping babies and older children gain confidence and independence in water. However, jumping straight into a swimming pool can be daunting for a little one.
The pandemic has stalled many swimming lessons and this may have impacted on your child’s confidence and newly learned abilities. Perhaps it’s meant your child is a later starter of swimming lessons because of pool closures, or maybe they’ve not even had chance to visit a swimming pool yet. But you needn’t be too concerned if they’re not enjoying being in the water. There are many things you can do to help bring up their water confidence – doll play being a great one.
Here, we explain how dolls can be used to help children find the fun in water once more – whether at bath time, in the swimming pool, paddling pool or at the beach!
Water confidence activities
If you take your child to the swimming pool regularly, you’re already helping them in their journey to water confidence. But bath time at home is a great time for introducing water confidence games. Toys are a great aid to encourage fun in the water and all the while, children are learning and becoming more comfortable in the water.
At BABY born, we’re big advocates of using doll play* as part of your water confidence activities with your child. Simply having their favourite BABY born doll in the water with them, so they have something else to focus on and get excited about – they’ll soon forget about any nerves. The bath is a great place to start, as it’s in an environment they know well and are comfortable in.
My First Swim Girl and Boy
BABY born My First Swim Girl and My First Swim Boy are ideal to incorporate in any water confidence games. These dolls can go in the bath or the swimming pool and to children, they appear to really swim, reinforcing the idea of the core skills needed for moving through the water. Aimed at children aged one and older, and at 30cm in size, this is a smaller doll with a non-removable swimsuit and hat so it can be easily grabbed by little hands. Children have lots of fun winding up the dolls’ arms and releasing – and they swim front crawl or butterfly when let go! The My First Swim dolls are great for teaching the basics of swimming, but, importantly, they bring lots of fun, ensuring your child is at ease and feels relaxed in the water. My First Swim Girl and My First Swim Boy can also join your child in the paddling pool or at the beach when the weather is warmer.
If your little one is a fan of mermaids, BABY born Little Sister Mermaid will be the perfect doll for them. With a real swishing tail in the water, they will love making her swim around in the bath. Once they are more confident to try out the pool, Little Sister Mermaid can join them as they go on a magical water adventure together.
Meanwhile, BABY born Magic dolls are great for ‘baby care’ roleplay in the water. Your child can bring BABY born Magic Girl or Magic Boy in the bath and wash their doll, making sure they’re clean and ready for night time. This is a good tip if your child is nervous around water – they’ll be so engrossed in the routine of bathing BABY born, they may almost forget they’re sat in water. Make a small splashing game with BABY born and talk about how much fun it can be to play in the water – they’ll love having a splash about. Carry on the game once they’re out of the bath too – have your child continue that bath time routine and dry BABY born, wrap the doll up in a bathrobe and get it ready for bed. This type of water play and roleplay, and using BABY born as a distraction tool, is great for younger ones, as at this age, it’s all about getting them used to water and making sure they enjoy it.
Familiarity and regular water play
When trying to build children’s water confidence, the most important thing to remember is they should experience water play frequently. The more time they spend in the water, simply having fun and splashing around, the more comfortable – and in time confident – they’ll become. We can show them there’s nothing to be afraid of with gentle encouragement and use of techniques, like doll play, that make it fun being in the water. What’s more, the time spent helping them gain confidence in the water is quality parent-child bonding time for you both.
*Please note, the dolls and other products specified in this article are not swimming aids and do not in any way replace the need for buoyancy items if your child requires them.