Bath time with your 12 month old

Jessie Jones
Hello toddler! Happy 1st Birthday to your little one. It’s that special time in your life which is full on your child's first’s like their first steps, words, friends and maybe even their first independent swim out to you in the pool 💦 

Your Toddlers brain has now doubled in size from birth and you have learnt so many new and wonderful things together this year. You and her closest care givers are still her favourite people at this age and are also her biggest role models for teaching her ‘wanted behaviours’. In the pool at swim lessons, show her what you want her to do in each activity and use positive words and encouragement to teach her the correct behaviours when interacting with her friends and teacher. Give her praise and let her know when she has made good choices.

Her language is really starting to take off now, keep singing and talking to her about what you are doing through out the day. Build on what she is saying, for example if she says “Ta” say “Yes, a ball” or if she says “ball,” say “Yes, that’s a big, red ball.” She is beginning to use items for their intended purpose and loves to imitate people in play. 

Her fine motor skills are improving rapidly, she can now put things into a container and take things out of a container and her pincer grasp has now developed to allow her to release objects and pick smaller items up with thumb and index finger.

Some of the milestones in the pool she may be starting to reach this month are:

Breath control
Can initiate their own submersion from standing and sitting
Explores blowing bubbles
Can consistently submerge and recover quickly 
Experiences brief front free-float while submerged 
Can stabilise in crocodile position and return to standing 
Movement and balance
Explores alternate kicking & paddling
Learns name & action associations through rhyme & rhythm
Learns that kick & paddle is for forward movement
Can balance independently in chest depth water and cruise along ledge 
Can submerge and recover in arms depth water
Initiates own ‘Humpy Dumpty’ entry with submersion & assisted recovery to wall 
Supports own weight on Monkey-Monkey wall for 3 seconds 
Can “high five” and wave goodbye
Claps along with songs
Can find hidden objects
Can remove and replace toys in a bucket
Becomes familiar and comfortable with having a turn with their teacher 

Emerging Developmental milestones and bath activities  for your 12 Month old:

Enjoys imitating people in play through imitative games:
~ Wash a baby doll, toy or you - Give her a doll or toy to practice washing, point out all the body parts and name them as you go. Ask her to wash specific body parts and see if she knows which ones they are.

Pays attention to where you are looking and pointing:
~  Use plastic spray bottles filled with water and show her how to aim and squirt suction toy targets on the side of the bath. Stick suctions toys around the inside of the bath above the water line. If you don't have any suction toys you can hang a dry, coloured wash cloth or hand towel just over the end of the bath so it hangs inside the bath along the top edge.  Let her practice aiming and squirting the target, point out how it changes colour when it gets wet if using a wash cloth.

Pokes with index finger:
~ Sing "heads, shoulders, knees and toes" using a doll to touch the body parts with your index finger as you sing. See if she can copy you and use her index finger to touch the body parts on the doll when you sing for her.

Explores objects in many different ways:
~ Water play with squeezing sponges and wash cloths. Show her how to squeeze a cloth or sponge and then show her how to aim the drips into a cup, encourage her to copy you. Use the cloth to wipe the sides of the bath and wash a doll, you can also play peek a boo with it and stick it to the side of the bath. Let her experiment with it and watch as she explores its uses.
Outdoor water play ideas:
Now that your toddler is becoming a little fish in the water form all those swimming lessons it might be time (if you haven't already!) to introduce her to the magical world of swimming in nature. Swimming in waterfalls, creeks, beaches, lakes and water parks will help your little one learn to love swimming in all environments, not just the pool & bath.

Introduce your child to these new environments gently, and follow her cues to ensure you are going at her pace. She may not be as confident at first as she is in familiar environments like her own pool, bath and her learn to swim pool. This is completely normal, as first she needs to learn and become familiar with things like:

- Where she can reach and stand up
- Noises, new faces and distractions around her
- Balancing in waves 
- Entering and exiting the water safely

Keep her close and supported when introducing new swimming environments to begin with, help her to balance and gain confidence in shallow areas first. From here you can gradually introduce deeper depths and watch as her confidence grows in these new places. As she learns how to recover in the shallows by herself in these new environments she will become more independent in them too.

Keep up your regular bath and swimming time together, add in swimming in some new environments too.
The more time you can spend swimming together in lots of different environments the more skills she will gain around water. These skills will help her to be more confident and safer around water. Continue to attend regular weekly toddler swimming lessons together, reading and responding to her cues during each activity with love and encouragement and without the use of force. Make swimming together a regular, enjoyable and enriching part of your lives.
Thank you!
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