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  • Writer's pictureSophie Schillaci

3 Super Easy Steps to Raise a Confident, Safe Swimmer During Bath Time (GUEST COLUMN: Michelle Lang)

How lucky we are to have found Michelle Lang.

The real-life mermaid and swim instructor to the stars has been teaching celebrity kiddos how to swim for years, including Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's, and Simon Cowell's. With more than a decade of swim instruction under her belt, Michelle has traveled the globe sharing her modern, serene and innovative method, "Relaxation Based Swimming."

Now, she's sharing her wisdom in her new book, "A Mermaid's Guide: Empower Your Child in Water and in Life."

Evie and I had previously taken a few swim lessons together, but she had recently started showing some anxiety about being in the water. Specifically, clinging to my side and crying anytime her face got splashed.

Just a few weeks ago, we were invited to a group lesson, led by Michelle, at a friend's home with several other babies close in age to Everly.

While the babes were all at different skill and comfort levels in the pool, Michelle spent time with each family and catered her approach directly to their child's needs. Her mantra was to follow their lead, and both Everly and I instantly felt calm in her presence.

After her swim, Evie dug into Michelle's new book.

What I love most about Michelle's approach is that she's passionate about saving lives, teaching kids how to keep themselves safe in the water without using potentially traumatizing exercises.

Specifically, she has amazing pointers for working with your child during bath time -- and one key thing to avoid.

I asked if she would be willing to share her top bath tub tips with Mom Needs Merlot, and she was kind enough to write a guest post! See what she suggests below, and shop her new book here.

“Everywhere we go, people notice what a fantastic swimmer North is. They just can’t believe someone so young can swim so well. While working with Michelle, it was a joy to see North become empowered by the water.”  - Kim Kardashian West
“Michelle is brilliant. Since he was two years old, Eric has been swimming like a dolphin. And thanks to Michelle, he has confidence in the water and will probably win an Olympic gold medal one day." - Simon Cowell
Michelle with her daughter, Evie, in the pool

Michelle Lang's Top Bath Time Tips for Raising a Confident (and Safe) Swimmer

Learning to swim can, and should be, one of the most empowering experiences of your child's life! Many children fear learning to swim, but it doesn't have to be that way.

Learning to swim is NOT complicated, but there are important tips and phrases you must do with your child starting in the bathtub to assure they learn to swim with a "Relaxation Base," no matter where they end up taking swim lessons.

("Relaxation Base" means that they develop a trust based relationship with the water...NOT a fear based one.)

Swimming should NOT be scary, it's like learning to FLY underwater! 

I wrote this book, “A Mermaid’s Guide,” to give parents the tools they need to layer in learning to swim starting in their HOME, even if they don't have a pool. 

Here are 3 easy exercises to work on with your little one, starting today! 


You can teach your child how to “Pufferfish” in the living room, car, or even under the dining room table. Pufferfish EVERYWHERE! But what IS pufferfish? 

Before we unveil what “Pufferfish” is, let’s talk about breath. Breathing is involuntary. For many kids, learning to swim is the FIRST time they learn: 1)    They have breath.  2)    They can control their breath. 

Learning how to CONTROL THEIR breath is the FIRST part of learning how to swim. 

Instead of teaching our children to blow mouth bubbles under the water, we should be teaching them how to hold their breath.  Mouth bubbles are old, outdated and make it REALLY HARD for children to learn how to swim. Why is that? We float because we have AIR inside of us. If we blow out all our air, we will sink. From teaching over 10,000 swim lessons over the past 13 years, I guarantee you mouth bubbles are NOT helpful. If your child gets the habit of blowing out all their air through their mouth, they will struggle to learn how to swim because it’s impossible to float when you’re sinking! 

What to teach them instead? Pufferfish. Tell your child to take a deep breath and, “Fill up their balloon.” (I tell my swimmers their body is like a balloon! When they have air inside of them they will float.)  To demonstrate how to take a deep breath, and then puff your cheeks out, mouth closed, eyes open. “PUFFERFISH!” 

Mermaid Tip: If your child gets water up their nose, you tell them to HUMMMM underwater. Humming allows LESS air to escape, which helps them to FLOAT even if bubbles are coming out of their noses. 


What’s with these little hats that protect your child from ever having to deal with water on their faces? Water is part of life. Let's embrace it!

Start early and keep your child educated about what water over their face feels like. For young children (3 months+), start with just a tablespoon of water and say, “We are going to pour water over your face on the count of three. 1,2,3…” and then pour! Teach your child how to hold their breath and become comfortable with the water going in their eyes and out of their eyes! As they gain confidence you can add more water to the pour. 

Mermaid Tip: If your child says water is in their yes, simply agree! “Yes, water goes in your eyes…and then goes out of your eyes.”  

Have a child who dislikes water over their face? Place three toys on the side of the tub and do one pour for every toy. Have it be a part of the bathtub routine! Practice makes perfect! If you start this when they are tiny, they won't know any other way! (NOTE: Be sure to do this BEFORE you shampoo them so they don't get soap in their eyes!) 


The point of this exercise is NOT to teach your child to blow bubbles under the water every time they submerge. The point is to teach them about how THEY control their breath. 

1.    Have your child take a deep breath and PUFFERFISH. 2.    Have your child take a deep breath and then HUMMMMMMM. 3.    Have your child take a deep breath and blow BUBBLES. 4.    Have your child take a deep breath and HUMMMMM, again. 

Again, the point of blowing bubbles is NOT so they blow bubbles every time they go under the water. It’s about teaching them how to control their breath!  

Was this helpful? Want to get MORE swimming tips to help your child become a mermaid/merman? Swim on over to and order "A MERMAID'S GUIDE" on

At what age did you start // are you thinking about starting to teach your child to swim? Tell me about your experience so far!


Mom Needs Merlot

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