Babies take to water naturally and they will often seem to almost know how to swim already. With the right approach your child can grow up to be a really confident swimmer, which will make them safer and healthier. Now you can pay for a swimming tutor or lessons, but this is not vital, even if you are not a strong swimmer yourself.
There is debate over whether you should take your new baby swimming before or after they have had all their jabs. Some parents find that their week old newborn will love to swim, whereas many will wait until their child has had all their jabs, after eight weeks or so. Department of Health advice suggests you can take your baby swimming from a very early age and that there is no need to wait until they have had their vaccinations.
Babies can lose heat very quickly in water, and this is why the shallower training pool will generally be warmer than the bigger pool. It is still advisable not to keep your baby in the water for more than half an hour. Another thing worth doing is getting a three quarter covering swimsuit for your baby, with at least partial sleeves and legs built in. This will help your baby to keep warm.
Taking your baby swimming yourself is fine. Playing in and around the water is perfectly safe, but you should not submerge your baby without a qualified teacher present. Never allow your baby to be unsupervised while in the water or pool side.
Aside from a baby wetsuit or swimsuit, you should be sure to get your child a fully watertight nappy. The Happy Nappy from Splash About is a good quality nappy that will keep the pool hygienic. This is vitally important as heated pools can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
Before going to your local pool for the first time, think about what is the best time to go. If your baby is still very young then go soon after they have woken up, so they are not too tired. Don’t go straight after they have eaten. Most pools have dedicated baby and toddler slots when the water will be warmer than usual. You may want to avoid going on Saturdays when the pool is most likely to be full with school children.
Your first swimming session does not need to be very long. Your child will need to get acclimatised to being in water, and they will probably love it. Don’t be tempted to stay in the water for too long though. Your baby won’t be moving about as much as you so they will feel the cold much sooner. Ten minutes may be enough time in the pool for your baby’s first swim.
As your baby gets more confident in the pool you may want to incorporate play into their swim. A small float or pool noodle is a fun thing for your baby to interact with while in the water and it will help them with their buoyancy.
Taking the time to teach your child to be relaxed in the pool is a great way of getting them ready for a beach holiday. Of course you must be sure to pack strong sun protection, a sun hat and full coverage and sun protection clothing. Wet suit material – neoprene – is fully sunproof to at least 50 SPF, so a full baby wetsuit is an excellent choice for the beach.
Taking your baby swimming is a healthy and fun way to spend time with your little one. With the right precautions you will reap benefits with healthier and happier children. So what are you waiting for? Dive in!