Teach your Toddler to Love the Pool

“Watch what he does.” Your neighbor steps out her back door into the pool area, holding her 1 year old in her arms. The baby begins to squeal with delight and kick his arms and legs. “He does that every time. He just loves being in the pool!”

You smile and nod, because that’s exactly how you want your baby to feel about the water. How can you make their introduction to the water a positive experience? Here are some things to consider:

Make the introduction gradual. When you take the child around the water, according to Parenting.com, it is best to go slow and let them adjust to the new experience. Don’t just take them out to the pool and step in to the water. While babies do have a natural love of the water, they are being exposed to something new, so take your time. The introduction can start when you take baths with your baby, and let them get used to the feel of the water. Trickle a bit of water over your baby’s forehead, to let them get used to the feel of running water. While holding the baby, let them feel the floating experience.

The introduction to the pool. While you’re getting your child used to the water, be sure to smile and say encouraging words, to reinforce that this is something fun. When you first step out to the pool with your toddler, make sure the water is slightly warm – if the water feels too cold for Mom, it’s too cold for the child. Always hold the child, and avoid the pool if it is heavily chlorinated. Here are some great resources with more information:


Each child at his own pace. Some babies will take naturally to the water, and quickly want more of the experience. Some children will be reluctant, so don’t force them. If a child hesitates or pulls back, don’t rush things. Have Dad hold the baby near the pool, while Mom steps in and begins to splash around and laugh, modeling how much fun the water can be. If the child responds positively, Dad can sit down near the pool with the baby. If they don’t act hesitant or scared, see if they want to dangle their feet in the water.

Bringing the child into the water. After the child begins to relax, he can be transferred to Mom’s arms in the water. If the child is still reluctant, patience is the word. Gradually let the child dip a little into the water, laughing playfully like you did in the bathtub. If you see a big smile and the child begins to kick their legs, let them sink a little deeper. Rock the baby to let him feel the lightness of the water, and gently bounce up and down. Make sure they don’t accidentally ingest some pool water, and make the first several times in the water short, so they have brief but pleasant exposures to the water.

Continue to play. As the toddler feels more comfortable, take a ball and throw it a short distance, to encourage the child to reach for it. This is early modeling for the swimming motion. Let the child spend time held against Mom’s chest, but then hold them away from you, so you can smile and they will see how much fun Mom is having.

Eight months later the neighbor watches as you step out to the pool, where your toddler begins laughing and kicking, just like hers did. You smile as she gives you a big thumbs up!

about the author

Kaitlin Gardner started AnApplePerDay.com, because she wanted to further her passion for green living and an eco-friendly lifestyle. She currently lives in Pennsylvania, and is married to her best friend. In her spare time, she loves to go hiking and enjoy nature. She is also working on another big project – her first book about living an eco-friendly, healthy, natural lifestyle.

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2 thoughts on “Teach your Toddler to Love the Pool

  1. These are great tips. My friends 18 month old was practically swimming before he was walking. I’m just trying to get my 3 year old in the water with me.