Tub Time Is Swim Time! 5 Ways To Introduce Basic Water Safety & Continuing Your Little One's Swimming Lesson Routine In The Bathtub!

Tub Time Is Swim Time! 5 Ways To Introduce Basic Water Safety & Continuing Your Little One’s Swimming Lesson Routine In The Bathtub!

This is an uncertain time for everyone, and it can be challenging to keep little ones entertained while we maintain our social distancing. All of us at Steve Wallen Swim School are doing our part, and that means our facilities are temporarily closed. This is certainly disappointing for our swimmers, and we recognize their disappointment and look forward to a time when we can get back in the pool!

Consider the opportunities to keep your littlest swimmers engaged in their swimming skills by turning your bathtub into a mini pool! This is a great space to add fun and swimming skills to the routine of washing up. Perhaps you have not yet started your little one on their learn to swim adventure by having them take lessons. The bathtub offers a wealth of opportunities to increase a child’s comfort level in the water, and introduce some basic water safety and swimming skills.

Let’s get started on turning Tub Time into Swim Time!

The bathtub is a body of water just like any other, so the same water safety rules apply. Never leave a child unattended in the bathtub. Never leave a bathtub full of water after bathtime is over; it presents a drowning hazard. The bathtub surface is slippery, so avoid activities that require standing in order to prevent a fall. Let your child know that a bath always includes adult supervision.

Every child loves having toys in the bathtub. Include toys that pour such as cups, watering cans, or small buckets. These can be used to introduce getting all wet by gently pouring water over their hands, then arms and shoulders, and then, if your child is ready, over their entire head! Letting your child have autonomy over this action will ensure that they are ready to have water streaming down their face!

#1 – Bubbles

The bathtub is a great place to introduce and practice breath control, or as your child understands it, bubbles. Early bubble blowers will have great success blowing bubbles into a plastic cup or bucket which holds bathwater. The more experienced bubble blower can practice their bubbles right into the water while stretching out and laying on their tummy in the tub.

#2 – Back Float

Rinsing out soapy hair is an opportunity to introduce and encourage the back float. If your child is unsure, gently lower them back with your hand cupped behind their head. Keep your face close to theirs, smile and sing away. Their little legs will likely stick straight up out of the water, so use your other hand to gently lower their legs back into the water. Don’t force it, as this should be a positive and fun experience for you both. Recognize that if their ears are submerged, they may not hear as well and that this may be an odd sensation for them. If they are content to lay in the water, gently run water over their hair. This is a wonderful way to work on their back float. Encourage holding the position for one second, then two, three and so on. Once they move back into the pool, they will be more comfortable in this position.

#3 – Front Float

The bathtub offers a small space in which your child might be comfortable enough to try submerging their face and to try stretching out into a front float. While the water won’t be deep enough to achieve a full float, it is a great space to work on body position: long straight arms and legs, flat body, and face in the water with the nose pointing to the bathtub bottom. Just as with a back float, encourage them to hold the position for a few seconds. Keep this activity light and fun, and offer lots of praise for attempts and for success.

#4 – Flutter Kick

You may need to remind your child to keep the splashing down, but the bathtub will encourage them to keep their legs straight during the flutter kick. While laying on their back, remind your child to keep a long straight body with long straight legs and to kick with quick small movements. Keeping their legs in the water at such a shallow depth will also assist in learning the correct leg and body position, which can transfer into the pool.

#5 – Sing Song Time

If your child is uncomfortable in the water, or if they love to splash and get wet, songs are a perfect way to get them clean and increase comfort in the water. By changing the many actions included in different children’s songs to swimming skills, your child will have a great time in the bathtub too! Remember to avoid any standing or jumping activities.

🎵This is the Way 🎵

🎵This is the way we wash our hands, wash our hands, wash our hands

This is the way we wash our hands, in the swimming pool🎵

To continue the song, and get them really clean, change hands to other body parts. When you get to their hair and face, take advantage of the opportunity to get them comfortable getting their face and entire head wet. You know your child best. If they are really resistant, move slowly and gently wipe wet hands and clothes over their cheeks and hair. A smiling, encouraging face will help, as will a lot of praise.

🎵Fishies 🎵

🎵Fishies in the ocean, fishes in the sea, fishies splash their hands One Two Three 🎵

As you repeat the refrain, alternate hands, feet, and legs for the splashing action.

🎵Motorboats 🎵

🎵Motorboats, motorboats go so slow, motorboats motorboats go so fast

Motorboats, motorboats step on the gas!

Motorboats motorboats, make a big splash! 🎵

As you sing this refrain, use bubbles or kicks as the action to match going slow, fast, and making the splashes!

🎵Wheels on The Bus 🎵

🎵 The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round

The wheels on the bus go round and round, all around the pool 🎵

The wipers on the bus go swish swish swish, swish swish swish, swish swish swish

The wipers on the bus go swish swish swish, all around the pool 🎵

Continue to move through the various bus actions with the matching child actions:

Wheels on the bus go round and round: the child spins around on their bottom

Wipers swish: either hands or legs can swish back and forth in the water

Horn goes beep: hand makes a beeping motion, splashing the water

The motor on the bus goes vroom: the child blow bubbles

Lights go blink: fingers make a splashing flick motion

Use your child’s imagination and your own to add even more bus actions!

🎵If You’re Happy and you Know It 🎵

As you sing the refrain, switch up the water activity!

🎵Splash your hands

Kick your Feet

Put one ear in the water

Put the other ear in the water

Blow some bubbles

Put your face in the water

Shout Hurray! 🎵

🎵Rain 🎵

🎵Rain is falling down (trickle water from sponge or fingers onto baby)

SPLASH! (splash hand in water)

Rain is falling down


Pitter-patter, pitter-patter (lightly trickle)

Rain is falling down


Teach your little ones how to swim with tub time!

While the bathtub can’t fully replace the learning environment, excitement and fun which is possible when taking swimming lessons with an experienced swimming instructor, it can offer some helpful strategies to get through this trying time. All of us at Steve Wallen Swim School looks forward to the time when we can welcome you back into our facilities, and the return to our learning to swim programs!

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