Understand Your Baby’s Body Language in Water

How Do Babies Communicate in Water?

Doing baby swimming classes is part of modern parenting in the 21 century. With scientific evidence confirming many benefits of baby swimming, communication and reading the ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ of a non-verbal child in the swimming pool enviroument could be a puzzle for many specially new parents. Although our ability to communicate with words makes us unique, it takes a few years for children to master a language and use words accurately for self-expression.

With no verbal skills, babies can only use body language to communicate their emotions and needs to their parents and those around them.Body language is the unspoken part of our communication and it remains important throughout our lives.

Language expertsseem to agree that between 50-80% of all human communications are non-verbal. 

Photo by Felipe Salgado on Unsplash

Body Language is the Language of Babies

a mum and bay in swimming pool

Body language is nonverbal communication in which physical movements and gestures as opposed to words, are used to express or convey the information. This includes facial expressions, body posture, eye movement, touch and the use of space.

Body Language, Signs and Cues

Children communicate far more to adults through their body language and children’s body language speaks much louder than their words. In young children who have no or a very limited verbal skills, body language is their main or sole method of communication.

Our brain controls all our physical movements as well as all the faces and gestures that we make. Adults have control over their bodies and the kinds of messages that they send out. So, as a parent, you need to be mindful of your own body language in the same way that you have to watch what your child says with her body language.

A calm touch and gentle holds are signs of confidence and trust. When children feel secure, they also show that with closeness and relaxed facial expressions.

A confident child:

  • knows he/she can rely on her/his parent skills and strengths to handle whatever comes up
  • feels ready for everyday challenges like meeting new people and going to new places
  • thinks “I am O.K” instead of “I cannot predict what is going on”

Body Language of Parents and Babies in Water

In our baby and toddler swimming classes, we encourage our parents to hold their little ones (babies and toddlers) very close to your chests when they are in water. Why?

Skin-to-skin contact promotes secure attachments in children. Plus, holding your baby close to your chest in the water, communicates your emotions to them, just as your child can communicate his/her feelings to you.

Children and parents communicate their happiness and calm with faces, voices and touches.

When children are clingy in water, normally, it’s a sign that they are not confident, so parents and swim teachers must provide extra assurances.

Tips For Safely Handing Your Baby in Water and Swimming Classes

If your baby or toddler gets clingy in the water, here are some useful tips:

  • Hold on to your child gently but, firmly.
  • Never trick your child in the water. Children must know they can trust you (the parent) 100% in water.
  • Keep talking to your little one in a calm voice. Hearing your voice helps your child to feel secure in the water.
  • Never use words which could generate negative feelings like ‘what’s wrong today’ or ‘don’t you like swimming’. Use assuring words like’ I’m here for you’ or ‘we are here to swim together’ or ‘we are going to enjoy water together’.
  • Avoid putting your child in any distressing situation which may or may not make them cry. Be mindful that, a distressed child doesn’t always cry. Other signs of distress in babies could be arching the back or turning head or face away.
  • If a particular activity in water repeatedly distresses your baby, that activity must be avoided.

Water should bring joy and happiness to you and your child and when babies starts associating positive feelings (like being safe) with water, they keep enjoy their swimming time. Unfortunately, any negative feelings formed in childhood can last a lifetime.

body language between a mother and a babyAs a parent, you can really help your baby to be a happy and confident swimmer one day if you work together and keep the communication going. Seeing your child turning to be a confident swimmer is priceless. Be mindful, your baby needs to get the security coming from you (the parent) at the first place.

It takes time, energy and patience to build a trusting relationship with water but, trust me, your investment will pay off. Just trust the process and stay communicative!

We offer baby swimming and toddler swimming classes in Putney and Wimbledon.

On Saturdays, we offer toddler swimming classes in Wimbledon

Get in Touch About our Baby and Toddler Swimming Classes



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