Keeping your little Nemo safe in the water this summer

You’ll probably have seen the recent story about Olympic skier Bode Miller’s young daughter who tragically passed away after falling into a neighbour’s pool. Unfortunately, the pain that Bode and his family are experiencing is all too common. A recent survey by the Royal Life Saving Society found that more than 400 people drown in the UK every year – that’s nearly one person every 20 hours. Thousands more have near drowning experiences, and we have seen a few examples of this in the local tabloids recently.

In this blog, Nemo Swimming provides some insightful tips to keep your little swimmers safe this summer.

Drowning prevention: the basics

The first – and most critical – step to child drowning prevention is constant and active adult supervision. Your little Nemo should never be left unattended, and it is important to ensure that whoever is charged with watching them remains undistracted, and knows how to swim well. We’d also recommend that you attend a paediatric first aid course so that you are trained in basic rescue techniques, just in case the worst was to happen.

Where possible, restrict your child’s access to the water. You can either do this by placing a barrier around the water, or by placing a barrier around your child. This advice applies, of course, to any body of water – pools, fish ponds, water features, paddling pools and more.

Building familiarity and confidence

While you, as the parent, are ultimately responsible for your baby, toddler or young child’s safety, there are steps that you can take to ensure that your child develops their own sense of water awareness, which will help them stay safe in, on, and around water. These include water familiarisation, setting rules in and around the water, and discussing water safety with your little Nemo. Nemo Swimming lessons are all about promoting water safety, and your child will already to learning how to move in the water, ‘hold on’, float on their backs, blow bubbles, and be comfortable being submerged underwater. As they get a bit older, we then develop these skills further and start teaching children how to swim confidently without being held by a parent or instructor.

When it comes to water safety, the teaching should never stop. Drowning can occur in children of all ages, and even adults. If you have a child aged between seven and 14 years old, why not check out the amazing Swim Safe sessions that are being organised by the RNLI this summer – ideal for ensuring swimmers are confident and able to stay safe in open water.

If you’d like any further advice about keeping your baby, toddler, or young child safe in the water, then why not give our friendly support team a call on 0191 281 7678, or email [email protected]. They are always on hand to help!

Happy swimming, and stay safe!

Written by Emma, Nemo Swimming

Ah, ah, ah, ah staying afloat, staying afloat…

Whether you are heading to the local pool, or hopping on a plane and flying far away this summer, the chances are that you – or perhaps a friend or family member – have raised a question or two about floatation aids. My mother-in-law very kindly bought my little Nemo some inflatable armbands for her first holiday. Armbands were the floatation aid of choice back when she had young children of her own. Today, though, there are plenty more options available. So, how do you select the best one for your child? In this blog, I chat to Theresa, co-founder and director of Nemo Swimming, to find out more.

Hi, Theresa! Let’s talk floatation aids; what do parents need to know?

Every year, at around this time, I get a new wave of questions from parents: What floatation aid should I buy for my holidays? Which armbands are the best? What alternatives should I be looking at? Let me start by saying that, when used properly, floatation aids are a fantastic tool for helping little ones gain confidence in the water. We, along with many other swimming providers, use them for this very reason in our lessons. Those of you who come to our classes regularly will know that we favour woggles (or pool noodles, as they are sometimes known), and the super-cool SwimFins. There are, though, lots of other options out there – and each of these options has its merits and its drawbacks. Whatever aid you use – no matter how good it is – it goes without saying that you must ensure that you supervise your baby, toddler, or young child in the water at all times. It is important to remember that little ones can drown in even one inch of water – so make sure you’re always by their side.

What are the best floatation aids out there?

That’s easy – the best floatation aid is you, the parent! Whether your little Nemo is just a few months old, or about to start school, they could not ask for a better buoyancy aid than their mummy or daddy. Use some of the holds that your learning in your Nemo Swimming lessons, and invest in some fun toys for the pool – rubber ducks, little fish, watering cans. Let them explore, tell you where they want to go, and what they want to see. When they see you having fun, your little one’s water confidence will come on leaps and bounds – it really will. If it’s usually mummy who attends swimming lessons, spend some time showing daddy what you learn in the pool. It’ll give him a brilliant opportunity for some daddy-little Nemo bonding, and it’ll also allow you to have five minutes to yourself!

Armbands always seem like a popular choice; what are your thoughts on them?

Personally, I’m not a fan. They’re still probably one of the most popular and commonly used floatation aids out there thanks to their low cost and durability. They’re certainly not my first choice, though. Although they do, of course, offer many advantages, armbands can really restrict the movement of children’s arms and, in my experience, some kids will become too dependent on them. This may mean that they find it difficult to move to a different swimming aid at a later stage, which can then hinder their progress. It’s also important to remember that, unless both bands have been inflated equally, your child will have to work harder on one side.

What would you recommend instead?

Depending on the age of your child, woggles and/or SwimFins. Woggles, which are sometimes referred to as pool noodles, are great for all ages – even adults! For your little Nemo, they allow a degree of independence, and can be used to play all sorts of games – underneath the rainbow, horsey horsey, and lazy sunloungers are just a few of the ones that we encourage in our classes. They are low cost, too, and can be picked up from many pound shops, not to mention the likes of Amazon.

For slightly older children – two years plus – I absolutely love SwimFins. We’ve used these in our lessons for many years and our little Nemos think they are great! I mean, what kid wouldn’t want to be a scary shark or a friendly dolphin?! Although they are suitable for children from around 18 months, I’d say that children aged two-and-a-half years and up will get the most benefit from them. Use them under the supervision of your Nemo Swimming instructor first but, once your little swimmer is used to the SwimFin, it’s fantastic.

Any other tips for parents this summer?

The summer really is such an amazing opportunity to help boost your little Nemo’s confidence in the water, and to have lots of fun at the same time. You don’t get many summers with young children, so enjoy them while you can. Take some time to make some memories.

Thanks, Theresa, some great ideas and thoughts here. Don’t forget, we’ll be sharing more hints and tips over the next few weeks to help keep your little ones safe in the water this summer.

Happy swimming!

Written by Emma, Nemo Swimming

Leaving on a jet plane…

We are gliding nicely towards the summer holidays now, and many of you will – no doubt – be jetting off to sunnier climes at some point over the next few months. I don’t know about you, but I had so many questions before I went abroad earlier this year. How many nappies should I pack? What should I expect on the plane journey with a not-quite-two-year-old? Would it be totally unacceptable to sit her next to her daddy while I relaxed at the other end of the plane?! Holidaying with a little one was totally new territory for me, and I am sure that some of you will be contemplating similar questions when you head abroad later in the summer. While Nemo Swimming can’t help you decide which shoes not to pack as there isn’t enough room in the suitcase thanks to all the baby/toddler paraphernalia, we can help when it comes to anything water or swimming-related – after all, that’s what we are great at!

Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing plenty of hints and tips to help keep your little Nemos safe in the water this summer. In this first blog of the series, we also provide some useful advice to help you ‘survive’ a holiday abroad with a young child.

The plane journey

This was the thing that worried me the most the first time I went on holiday with my little girl. I’m not scared of flying – far from it. I was, though, scared of flying with a toddler! How was I going to keep her entertained? Was she going to be ‘one of those kids’ who screamed for the entire journey? What could I take onboard with me?
While there is no fail-safe way to ensure a stress-free flight with a little one, there are some things that you can do to make your time in the air more bearable. First and foremost, make sure you pack plenty of books, toys and other distractions in your hand luggage. Think about creating a little sensory or fun bag, with a range of ‘treats’ that you can reward your child with at regular intervals throughout the flight – worked fantastically for us! Do remember when you’re packing, though, that space on most aircrafts is somewhat limited, particularly if you don’t have a seat booked for your little Nemo.

Have plenty of fluids ready to offer for take-off and landing – milk, water, juice. Regular sips will not only help keep you little ones hydrated, the swallowing will help to ease any discomfort that they might experience in their ears.

>> Check out this fantastic guide from Tots to Travel for more information about flying with a baby, toddler, or young child

The heat

Babies, toddlers, and young children are not as adaptable to temperate change as adults. This means that the hot weather can be a fraught time for us parents, but there are steps that you can take to make the heat easier for you and your little Nemo.

Remember that children may need to drink more than usual in the heat. Make sure you offer regular drinks throughout the day, and watch out for signs of potential dehydration or heat stroke.

Encourage your little one to play in the shade as much as they can, particularly between 11am and 3pm when the sun is at its strongest. When they are out in the sun, make sure they are well covered in a high factor sun cream that is effective against both UVA and UVB. The most common areas for sunburn on children are their shoulders and the back of their neck, so pay extra attention to these body parts. If your little Nemo will be taking regular dips in the pool, invest in a waterproof sunblock, and don’t forget to reapply throughout the day. Also check whether your little Nemo’s swimwear offers any protection against the sun – the Splash About Happy Nappy  offers UPF 50+ for extra sun protection, which is good to know!

>> Read more about keeping your little Nemo safe in hot weather

The change in routine

The chances are that your child’s routine will be affected when you go on holiday. The heat may make them sleep more, or it may make if more difficult for them; you might find that you – and they – are up later than usual; meal times may not be as consistent as they are back home. I’ll be honest, I’ve always been a bit of a stickler for routine with my little Nemo. Holidays, though, are about relaxing – even though it might not seem that you get much time for this with a little one running around! Make sure you give yourself some breathing space – you’ve earned this holiday, and you need time to chill, too! As I always say, it’s easier to fix a broken routine than it is a broken parent!

That’s all for now, but check back soon for more hints and tips on keeping your little Nemo safe in the water this summer. We’ll also be giving advice on the best floatation aids to use, and some games and fun challenges to occupy little minds over the summer break. Happy swimming, everyone!

Written by Emma, Nemo Swimming