I started bringing Tucker to the pool when he was about 6 months old. From a very young age he loved the water and was always splashing and giggling. I got him comfortable in the water by always making it a positive experience. I let him ride on my shoulders and bounced him up and down in the water. The pool was our playground!
Babies are born with a bradycardic reflex-meaning that when you blow in they're face they automatically hold they're breath and close they're eyes. That is how I taught Tucker to hold his breath underwater. I started doing this when he was 6 months! We continued to do this as he got older. Once he was 9 months old he was a pro at holding his breath under water. I also taught him to blow bubbles at this age by always practicing during bath time. At this age I would let go of him when we went under water. Letting go can be the hardest step for you as a parent, but is crucial for your baby. They learn that they can float, and they learn to kick. I was always very careful to make sure he was not swallowing water. I could always see if he let his air out.
The initial response of other people at the pool watching me do this was FEAR. When I would put him under the water other people would panic! Your baby TRUSTS you. If they sense your fear they are not going to be comfortable in the environment. I've seen this happen over and over. I taught swim lessons for many years. How you respond as a parent plays a huge roll in how your child reacts in and out of the water. Don't overreact! Always stay calm. Make them feel safe.
Once Tucker turned 1 he was able to swim 3 feet and grab the side of the pool or get up on the step unassisted. I would hold his butt up and encourage him to kick and use his arms. At 18 months he could jump off the side by himself and swim underwater for about 6 feet. I can see/hear when he lets his air out and I help him come up for air. Now at 21 months he is coming up for air on his own!
2 year old's can learn to swim! Get them comfortable in the water and don't be afraid to give them a little push.
The Timeline of what I did with Tucker