Learning to Swim - Saint Charles,MO

Updated on July 12, 2011
K.C. asks from Saint Charles, MO
8 answers

My 4 year old son is just learning to swim. Any ideas and/or suggestions on keeping him safe while allowing some independence (he likes to do everything "himself"). Also, any ideas on fun swim toys for my new swimmer?

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answers from Charlotte on

Are you getting him swim lessons? Those are really important.

As far as toys are concerned, we bought my boys a "bullet" which "flies" through the water. They had a great time playing with it, and they have to go under the water to get it. It helped them go under without holding their noses, after they'd taken lessons for a while. It reinforced the lessons while they did something fun, and they didn't even know it.

Swim lessons are the best longterm way of keeping him safe. Have a wonderful time!


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answers from San Antonio on

I agree that nothing will really keep him safe except to have you in the pool or right there with him. My 3 yr old was in one of those swim suits with a built-in inner-tube. He lost his grip while holding on to the edge of the pool and still gurgled a little bit of water before I got to him. Also, another time he was in knee deep water wading in the river and walking. His upper body was going faster than his lower body and he fell face first in the water and couldn't get himself back up. And I was right there!

That being said, my son is in swim class. The best part IMO are the songs they sing to help teach form and to help keep my son comfortable with dunking his head and blowing his bubbles, etc. Here are a few:

(sung to the tune of Row Row Row your boat:)
Dig dig dig your hands
dig them down and in
Merrily merrily merrily merrily
Now I learn to swim

(variation to Ring Around the Rosey)
Ring Around the Rosey
Pocket full of posey
Splashes Splashes
We all blow our bubbles!

My son is always a fan of squirt guns.
Also, if you are teaching him to doggy paddle, get a floating toy (like a bath toy) that he can paddle towards.

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answers from Kalamazoo on

Best way to keep him safe is for you to be right there. That way he can do whatever he wants "himself" but if he slips under, you can have him back up in 2 seconds! My kids like to play with balls in the pool and those noodles!

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answers from Springfield on

My son is 4 and last year we got him a puddle jumper...it's a flotation band-type thing that goes around his chest area and has rings attached for his arms to go through (it latches in the back, so no chance of them taking it off themselves and it's adjustable). It's not a life-saving device, but keeps him up enough that he can move around by himself and allows him to do the movements of swimming. And he's not latching onto me the whole time, so I can swim around and play with him. We also work on floating and swimming without the puddle jumper on, but when he wants to be on his own, he gets to wear it. My biggest problem with him swimming is that he has such a big smile on his face that he forgets to keep his mouth closed and occasionally takes in a little water. lol His favorite toy for the lake is just one of those $1 plastic boats like we had when we were kids. :)



answers from Chicago on

If you aren't in the water, he can't be in the water - PERIOD.

Only allow him to venture off as far as his belly button unless you are right next to him, esp in any open water.

In open water my kids ALWAYS wore a swim vest/life jacket on land before we got in.

Cool swim toys - anything that sinks that he can go get, "Skipper" (little floating disks kind of like skipping stones), and a new pair of goggles!

My kids LOVE their masks and snorkles. They think its so fun to stay underwater.



answers from Detroit on

My daughter is almost 4 and she has a swim suit with a built-in floatation device in it, but nothing is a substitute for being near-by, in the water, and constant supervision. I've been meaning to get her signed up for lessons, so maybe she can start trying to swim without the float suit. I would say that for any kid, swim lessons are invaluable.

She does have a Finding Nemo toy that we got at Target that she loves. You turn it on, it floats on the surface and swims forward. It's actually what got her actually swimming (dog-paddling) on her own for the first time just after she turned 2 - she wanted to go after it so she just took off and started swimming! Swim noodles are fun too!



answers from Kansas City on

I'm going to go ahead and assume you meant in addition to being with him in the water. He's only 4, I think that is a given, but I suppose the others were just sending a friendly reminder. ;)

Anyway, my daughter loves those dive toys. It took her a while to learn how to actually swim down to the bottom and get it but she loved to try. Target has some ring ones right now, a 3 pack for a dollar. They also make ones that are like Spider Man and stuff. She also likes balls and water squirters, like those ducks or fish or whatever that can also be used in the tub.

My daughter is a water baby for sure. We don't usually put her in a life jacket b/c we want her to learn how to swim without it. Of course she's used one and if we're in a lake it's a MUST, but generally speaking, she is without it and has learned how to swim early. My son is quickly following in his big sister's foot steps, so even though you'll be around him in the water I would say give him the space to go under and even flounder a little. Let him know that you're close by but don't rescue him as soon as he has an issue. Of course if he can't recover you'll be close enough to get him, but if he is Mr. Independent it shouldn't phase him! We also like having my daughter jump in and then swim to us, sometimes we keep moving backwards as she's swimming to see how far she can really go! You can also time him to see how long he can under water and hold his breath. See if he can beat his time each time you go to the pool. Do your pools have slides? Once my daughter could swim she was so excited to finally be able to go down the slide! That could be fun and a possible incentive to work on his skills if he's not quite there yet! Have fun!


answers from Milwaukee on

My daughter is 4 1/2 years old, been learning to swim for almost a year now. She has slowly gotten over her fear of the water. I am ALWAYS in the water with her and if she wants to try something I let her with me always there able to get her if she panics.

The one thing my daughter loves is a blow up innertub that she is in, she lays on her stomach with her body/legs through the hole in the water with top/head/arms out of the top. She can easily move around kicking and is learning to steer with her legs and arms. NOW she did flip, paniced but I was right there to pull her up to the surface. She was scared but I calmed her down and we kept on swimming.

Kickboards are also go to help him yet give him the independence he desires. Floating chair that is very stable and would be hard to tip (not the blow up kind), to relax in the water, so still in the water but a little rest time to get energy back to keep swimming.

Swimtoys... pool squirt tubes, diving rings (or similar), could just go to the walmart or target summer/water/pool aisle and have him pick out 2-3 cheap toys that he is intrested in.