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How to Teach a Toddler to Swim: A Complete Guide

There are many benefits to swimming for children. But it may be a scary prospect for your toddler if they don’t like water at all.

So if they’ve never had any swimming lessons and they are afraid of the water, how can you go about teaching your toddler how to swim? After all, taught correctly, learning how to swim is one of the most essential life-saving skills anybody can have.

Well, we want your child to swim like a fish. So here’s how to teach a toddler to swim and help them take their first strokes.

Establish a Positive Introduction to Water

Start by letting the toddler experience the sensation of wetness. For the first few short lessons, you can walk your child through a bathtub filled with shallow water. Allow them to get their feet wet and splash the water with their hands.

You can also let them dip their faces in the water, encouraging them to blow instead of swallowing the water. It is important to make these activities fun and rewarding for your toddler, so it is important to include hugs and praises.

Provide the Proper Safety Gear

When teaching a toddler to swim, provide the proper safety gear. They will ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Life jackets are a must for the child. This not only keeps them safe but also allows them to focus on learning the motions of swimming rather than fret about safety.

Have them wear snug-fitting life jackets or flotation devices to ensure they are supported in the water. Use an anti-wave float to keep them in a constant upright position while still allowing some movement while they learn to swim.

Out of the pool, you should also give them protections such as hats from sites like And you should also make sure they use sunscreen to protect their skin from UV rays.

Introduce the Skills Needed for Swimming

Introducing the skills needed for swimming to a toddler is an important step in teaching them how to swim. To help you

Swimming on the Back

To begin, have your toddler get familiar with the water and become comfortable in it by playing around. When they’re ready, have them float on their back, with their head turned to either side so they can breathe. 

Remind them not to kick too much or to try to roll over, as this can cause them to become flipped over and lose their breath. Reinforce the idea that they should always have their head above the water when swimming on their back.

Finally, make sure to keep a close eye on your toddler as they learn, so you can provide proper guidance and use safety measures if necessary. 


To start the floating process, have them lay together on their back, with an adult nearby to securely hold them if needed. Encourage them to relax their body and gently move their hands and legs up and down. 

Once they are comfortable and floating, guide them with verbal cues to position their body in the most comfortable position. Always accompany your toddler when floating, ensuring that they float safely.


Start by having your toddler sit on the edge of the pool and push off softly as you support them and guide them as they paddle around. Talk to them and encourage them to use their arms and legs to move forward and backward.

You can offer assistance at first by holding their arms or legs and pushing them off. Then gradually let go as they get more comfortable with the activity.

Keep your toddler paddling with both arms and legs at the same time and reward them when they complete a lap. Don’t forget to keep them safe by having floatation devices available and using close supervision at all times. 

Learn Basic Strokes

Toddlers need to learn basic strokes and safety techniques while learning to swim. Here is a list to help you start:


When teaching a toddler freestyle, it is important to always begin with safety in mind. Slowly demonstrate how to move their arms forward in an alternating manner. Encourage them to practice the motion with you and have them imitate what you are doing.

To help them stay afloat, you can use kickboards or support them in the middle of their back as they practice the arm motion. Have them keep their head tilted downward and underwater. 


To teach a toddler breaststroke, first show them the basics of breaststroke. Have them move their arms in a circular motion. One arm should reach out and down while the other reaches up and out. Their feet should also move in an alternate kicking motion, pushing their feet against the water to propel their body forward.


To start, have them find a comfortable position on their back, with their toes pointing towards the surface. After they are settled, it is important to teach them how to glide and kick their legs.

To help them kick, you can lift their legs off the wall and show them how to move them. To help them glide, show them how to use their arms to propel themselves through the water while keeping their body straight. You should also encourage them to keep their head slightly tilted back to help maintain their body position in the water. 


The butterfly stroke includes a simultaneous arm, leg, and body movement that propels the swimmer forward. So you should focus on teaching the young swimmer to lift both arms in a windmill-like pattern just above the water’s surface. Teach them to do a kick that looks a lot like a frog kick while maintaining the arms’ windmill movement.

Then lift their stomach and pull their arms down at the same time to develop momentum. Rotate their arms around the head with a teacup-like return.

Follow Our Guide on How to Teach a Toddler to Swim Now!

With the right guidance, learning how to teach a toddler to swim can be a fun and rewarding experience. Following the safety advice and tips outlined in this guide, your toddler will gain confidence. You and your child will be able to enjoy all of the benefits of swimming.

So what are you waiting for? Start them off today and make sure you keep the experience positive and enjoyable for all!

Did you find this article helpful? If so, check out the rest of our site for more.


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