Taking your baby swimming can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. You want your baby to enjoy the experience so staying calm matters. Here are Clare’s top tips for managing the practicalities of swimming with babies.
1. Bath with baby
Bathing together helps you get used to handling wriggly wet babies when you are wet too. Getting used to handling a wet baby at home before you try it at a swimming pool is helpful. Bathing together can also help you figure out the logistics of getting you both changed too.
2. Getting changed to swim with your baby
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic many pools have required that you arrive swim ready.
This doesn’t usually apply to babies needing nappies, but do check your local pool requirements ahead of time.
- Most pools require a double nappy system for additional containment. This means using a neoprene swim nappy over a disposable swim nappy.
- Swim nappies aren’t absorbent enough for a car journey. Use your standard nappy to get there and change on arrival.
- Don’t forget to take what you need for the journey home.
- Neoprene costumes can help to keep babies warm whilst swimming or when wet. Even in the summer body temperature can drop quickly in water. Neoprene costumes have the added bonus of making your little one less slippery to hold.
Read more: Sling safety in and around water
Considering using a sling at the swimming pool, splash park or beach with your baby. Find out about what types of slings could work and how to use them safely.
3. Getting into the swimming pool with your baby
Depending on how much your baby can move, there are several options for getting into the pool.
You could lay them on pool side whilst you use a slide in entry for yourself. This means you slide in feet first, on your tummy with your hands on the poolside. You can use the position of your hands to prevent them moving away whilst you do this.
Alternatively carrying them in your arms and entering backwards via the steps is a safe method for mobile babies and toddlers.
Once in the pool, initially your baby is likely to cling to you. Take time to lower them into the water whilst having a cuddle. This will offer your baby reassurance and allow you both to acclimatise gently.
4. Take toys
Taking along a familiar bath toy when you go swimming helps to reassure your baby. Familiarity can be calming for babies in a new and unusual environment. Toys such as balls and small floating objects work really well for encouraging your baby to reach for items in the swimming pool.
Pouring activities and singing action songs in the water also help engage babies and toddlers.
5. After swimming
When you go swimming 2 towels for yourself, in addition to towels for your baby. Use one to wrap around yourself while you get your baby changed. Use the second to dry yourself fully before you get changed.
It is a good idea to have some milk or snacks to hand for little ones after swimming, especially if they can self feed themselves while you change. Children are likely to be hungry and tired after a swim. Feeding them before you head home can help prevent starving hungry wake ups or a hungry baby crying on they way home!