Introducing babies to swimming at a young age is the ideal way to make sure they aren’t afraid of water and learn to be safe early on. Here are some tips to ensure that your first experiences of taking baby swimming are happy, positive and help you create great bonds.
1. Water is fun!
Swimming is the perfect way to bond with your baby, boost their confidence, and strengthen their heart and lungs, so introducing the benefits of swimming early is ideal.
Use bathtime to get babies used to the notion of playing in the water. The more they experience the senses of swishing, splashing, and waves as fun, rather than scary, the easier a transition to a pool or the beach will be easier for both of you! The movements of the water, noises, colors and splashes will be similar to a pool environment. This will help sensory development and prepare your little one for the new environment when all of their senses are working at the same time. Start with the bathtub and move your way up to the baby pool and beyond.
2. Be Prepared!
Going to the pool or the beach is a treat, so make sure you have everything you might need in your swim bag:
- Hooded towel/towel
- Diaper bag and changing mat
- Pool toys and flotation devices
- Sunscreen and sunglasses
- Snacks and water
- Reusable swim diapers — look for adjustable waistbands, a water-resistant layer, and leak-proof elasticized legs to ensure no accidents in the pool! The ideal swim diaper is lightweight and compact, so it will not weigh your baby down in the pool (unlike disposables diapers) and will not restrict any movement for your little swimmer.
Reusable swim diapers are an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional disposable swim diapers and are super easy to use. So you can both enjoy a day of fun in the sun, without worrying about little accidents!
3. Use Adequate Sunscreen and Re-apply!
Baby’s skin is sensitive, so it’s vital to remember to use a good quality, water-resistant sunscreen. Apply to baby’s exposed skin at least thirty minutes before going out in the sun, and don’t forget to re-apply regularly throughout the day or after swimming. Even water-resistant formulas come off eventually. Add a hat and sunglasses, and baby will be well protected from the harmful effects of UVA / UVB sun rays.
4. Make Sure Baby Doesn’t Get Cold
It might seem counterintuitive to worry about baby cooling off in the summer sun, but water, whether at the pool or the beach, can be much colder than the outside air temperature. The ideal water temperature is 89 degrees Fahrenheit, but anything less, and you’ll find that it doesn’t take baby long to lose heat and start to shiver a little.
Keep your pool or water sessions short to start with—10 or 15 minutes at most—before popping them out and drying them off with a hooded towel so they stay cozy and warm. Having more than one swim diaper ensures that you can stay at the seaside all day and keep baby warm and dry too.
If your little one has been sick with cold or flu-like symptoms or an upset tummy, skip the swimming plans until they are symptom-free for at least 48 hours. And if your baby has sensitive skin, find out about chlorine levels in the pool, as these can be irritable. Your pediatrician can advise on the best ways to protect your baby’s skin.
5. Know the Rules!
Check with your local pool before packing up and heading over regarding their policies: how many children per adult they allow, what they constitute as an acceptable floatation device, and how deep into the pool you can go with your children. Most pools are clear about their rules and policies in writing, so familiarize yourself to avoid disappointment!
With a little planning and packing, you’ll have a great time at the pool or beach with your little one this summer!
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