How not to get a grip!
We say so much to babies through our body language. The way you hold and support your child and the way you react if they take a tumble under the water speaks volumes. Your baby or toddler will look to you for guidance and reassurance in the water because it's such an unusual and unfamiliar environment.
One way to make sure that your baby or toddler understands that there isn't anything to fear in the water is to make sure you are holding them with the lightest hands possible. An iron grip suggests to your child that there is something to fear, whereas a light hold allows them to find their balance in the water and will help you both to relax. In a light hold, young babies have to move and kick a little more to keep stable too.
We always aim to give as little support as we can in the water - can your baby swim on her front with just one hand under the tummy? Can your toddler float on his back with just a supporting hand under the head? Can he jump or flop in to you from the side without being held? Parents are often surprised by how much a young child can do without much adult intervention.
With high expectations we see some excellent results. Don't be afraid to take a little risk - if your child disappears beneath the surface briefly, you can calmly retrieve them for some reassurance with no harm done. What can your child do for herself? She may well surprise you!