Swimming is a fantastic activity for babies and their parents or carers, but when is the right time to introduce little ones to the pool? From tips for the first swim to baby swimwear, it can be a little overwhelming knowing all that you should take with you.
What are the benefits of swimming for babies?
Submersion in water gives babies the support and freedom they need to practice kicking, wriggling and developing their motor skills safely to develop muscle control and strength. As they gain confidence and progress, they will learn to master the basic swimming techniques.
What are the benefits of swimming for parents and carers?
Swimming with your baby is an excellent bonding activity and joining a specialised class for infants is a great way to meet other parents and make friends; they are invaluable when it comes to navigating your way through the early months of parenthood!
How old should my baby be before the first swim?
There’s no need to wait for your baby to be immunised before taking them to the pool; most baby swimming classes will accept infants from 4-6 weeks of age, however it’s advisable for new mums to wait until at least six weeks after labour to go swimming. Whether you had a natural or assisted labour, your body will need time to recover and although swimming is a great form of exercise, there’s a slight risk of infection for mothers, particularly those who had a caesarean or any perineal tears.
There’s no rush so don’t put yourself under any pressure to get to the pool. You know your body and your baby better than anyone and will know when the time is right. If you have any concerns, ask your health visitor or GP for some advice.
How can I help my baby feel comfortable in a swimming pool?
The noise, smell and feel of the water will provide new sensory experiences for your little one but if you’re concerned this may be overwhelming, help your baby feel at ease by preparing them at home. If your baby appears to be a little unsettled in the water, try holding them close to you in the pool, this should help to relax them.
Get them accustomed to being in water by splashing them gently in the bath and moving them around in the water and if they’ll wear a swimming costume at the pool, let them wear it at home to get used to its feel.
Are there any safety issues I should be aware of?
Before taking your baby in any body of water it’s important that you feel confident in it first. If you haven’t been swimming for a while or haven’t been to a particular pool before, go for a swim on your own to familiarise yourself with the layout. Ask at reception whether they have changing tables or travel cots in the changing rooms and whether they have lockers or storage space suitable for buggies.
Babies lose body heat more quickly than adults so if your child is less than six months old, look for pools heated to a minimum of 32˚C and begin with short sessions of 10-20 minutes to let your baby acclimatise to the overall experience.
All indoor pools are chlorinated and although this is usually harmless, it can be an irritant for skin conditions such as eczema so take care to cleanse your baby’s skin thoroughly with a mild soap after a dip.
Apart from baby swimwear, what else do I need?
- Swim Nappies
Most pools insist that babies wear swim nappies, they’re not waterproof but when paired with Swim Sure nappies for girls and boys they should contain any little accidents! You should also consider taking the following:
- Changing Mat
- Drinks and Snacks
- Favourite toy or blanket
Most babies will be tired from even a short swim and need a good nap. Help settle them with a favourite toy or blanket and then enjoy a little quiet time yourself.