Splash-happy swimming tips for toddlers

12:0AM, Jan 31st 2013

Naomi Cotterill

With swimming weather in full swing, follow our advice for safe, splash-tastic fun in and around pools, including tips from Olympic swimmer and mum-of-three Sam Riley.

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With swimming weather in full swing, follow our advice for safe, splash-tastic fun in and around water, including tips from Olympic swimmer and mum-of-three Sam Riley.

Watch out

Supervision of children can become a grey area at pool and beachside gatherings. Rob Bradley, CEO of the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia (RLSSA), says, “Don’t make the assumption that someone else is watching your kids.”

Actively supervising your child means they have your complete attention the whole time they are in or around water, and you are never more than arm’s length away. Creating a designated ‘child supervisor’ roster during gatherings is one way of ensuring that children are watched at all times. Check out www.keepwatch.com.au for more information.

Barrier protection

While home pools present the biggest risk of drowning for children under five, other hazards include bathtubs and spa baths, water features, inflatable paddling pools and household items such as buckets, Eskies and even nappy buckets – all require an effective barrier to prevent children from accessing them unsupervised. For more pool safety tips, head to www.homepoolsafety.com.au.

Pool fences are enforced by legislation and must be inspected regularly, as well as gates and covers. Correct barriers must also be in place around new water features. Also keep chairs, stools, pot plants and even bikes away from pool fences, as a child can use them to reach a gate or scale a fence.

Related video: Sam Riley’s Pool Fence Safety Checklist

Take the plunge

One of the best ways to keep your kids water-safe is to enroll them in swimming lessons, as it can aid water awareness, build confidence and it’s a great way to bond with your baby. Enrolment at four to six months is a good time to start. Here are a few tips to get the ball rolling.

  • Choose a swim school with a well-maintained pool and good facilities.
  • Have a dress rehearsal at home so your child becomes familiar with wearing swimsuits and goggles.
  • Arrive early to lessons so he can ease into the surroundings.
  • Take pre-schoolers to the toilet just before lessons to avoid disruptions.
  • Keep your child away from the pool edge and make sure he doesn’t run on the slippery decks.
  • Praise achievements and lay off the pressure; he will progress in his own time.


Slip, slap, slop

Stick with SPF30+ No formulation blocks the sun’s rays completely, but a broad-spectrum SPF30+ means the skin will take 30 times longer than unprotected skin to burn.
Cover the small bits Ears, backs of necks and lips all need protection from the sun.
Choose wisely A sensitive, fragrance-free formulation is a good option for children’s delicate skin.
Apply generously The Cancer Council has found that rarely is sufficient sunscreen applied to completely protect the skin.
Check the use-by date Sunscreens, like other cosmetic products, expire.
Wear protective clothing A wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and a long-sleeved shirt will physically block the sun’s rays.
Be diligent Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going out and every two hours after, especially if you’re in and out of the water.
Store safely Keep sunscreen out of direct sunlight and away from the heat as high temperatures will reduce the formulation’s effectiveness.

Need to know

  • Enrol in a first-aid course or update your skills so you know how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if required. Visit www.stjohn.org.au for details.

  • Remove a drowning casualty from the water if you can – without assisting beyond your own ability.

  • Dial 000 (or 112 from mobile phones). The operator will advise you until paramedics arrive.

For more great advice on how to get water-wise, watch Olympic swimmer Sam Riley’s Swimming Tips for Toddlers video below.

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