Getting your child to swim at a young age is a good move in terms of safety. It is also great fun and really good exercise for you and your little one. Here are a few tips to prepare you for a first-time swim session with your baby and to help you get the most out of your time in the pool.
When is the right time to start taking my baby swimming?
Most swimming classes begin from 6 weeks old, but if you are keen for your baby to be introduced to swimming before this then you may wish for your partner or somebody else to take them. If your baby is younger than 6 months old, then you should only take them to a pool that has been heated to at least 32 Degrees Celsius. If you do take your baby for swimming lessons, then it is good to attend the ones that use warm pools. Large public pools can be too cold for young babies.
What do I need to take with me?
It is important to ensure that you have everything you will need for a swim session and after. These are the things that you will definitely need:
- Swim nappies, and a swim suit if you would like your baby to wear one.
- Most classes advise you to wear a neoprene nappy to prevent leakages
- A hooded towel, or a towelled dressing gown.
- A warm bottle for after your swim if you are bottle feeding.
- A snack for your baby, if they have started on solids. Swimming can make babies very hungry.
- A handful of baby toys to encourage a fun and relaxed atmosphere.
- A changing matt and nappy bags.
Now you are all set to go swimming. Don’t forget to pack your swimming things too!
Keeping my baby safe in the water
Here are a few useful pointers to help keep your baby safe when swimming:
- Make sure the pool is warm enough before you get in with your baby. You will be able to ask the pool attendant to check this for you.
- When entering the pool, make sure that the water is up to your baby’s shoulder, and you keep them moving.
- If your baby starts to shiver, make sure you that you get them out of the pool and wrap them up warmly. Babies lose heat very quickly, so they shouldn’t stay in the pool for too long.
- You should aim to start your sessions at 10 minutes long and build them up to 20 minutes. If your baby is under one, then you should limit your time to a maximum of 30 minutes.
- If your baby has a bad cold or temperature, avoid taking them swimming..
- Always be sure to wash the chlorinated water off of your baby’s skin following a swim, and apply a moisturiser.
- Swimming is great exercise for a little baby – they often sleep very well afterwards!
How can I make swimming fun for my baby?
It is good to start your swim by getting your baby used to the water. It can help to splash a little water over their body and lie them on their back to move them gently through the water.
If it is your first time at a pool with your baby, then you should try to choose a time when it’s not so busy. It can also be fun to ask a friend to join you with their baby for the session. If you are calm and happy, then your baby will be too. Try to avoid any concerned looks – they will pick up on your vibes!
When you get into the pool, try to hold your baby close and keep eye contact with them. Then, when you feel a bit more confident, you will be able to stretch your arms out more and swish your baby around. Don’t forget to talk to and praise your baby, as this helps to reassure them.
Use the bath toys you brought along with you to make a game with your baby. There are lots of fun ways to get your baby to interact with the toys. Here are a few fun ideas for you to try:
- Throw a toy and then bounce your baby through the water to retrieve it.
- Blow bubbles under the water to show your baby how to blow bubbles. This teaches your baby that they can’t inhale water if they are blowing.
- If your baby is very young, try blowing a toy through the water and get your baby to blow it back to you.
If you lay your baby on their back and rest their head on your shoulder, then this can help to encourage them to kick their legs. Nursery rhymes can also be lots of fun. If your baby can sit up, try singing ‘Humpty Dumpty’ to them and slowly splash them into the water when you say ‘Humpty Dumpty had a great fall’.
Babies under 6 months generally love floating on their backs, enjoy this activity as they are likely to start showing aversion to this after 6 months. Once around this age they will be keen to sit up and look around them, moving toys around the water and jumping off the side.
Shall I take my baby to swimming lessons?
This is completely up to you. Many people choose to take their babies to swimming lessons as they are fun and help your baby to become confident in the water much quicker.
How can Baby Paddlers help my baby?
We will work with you and your baby to become more water confident. We do this by teaching you a number of activities using toys and song. By 18 months many of the babies we have taught are comfortable to swim under the water, as well as act out commands such as holding on to the side of the pool and jumping in with support by their own choice. We work with a maximum of 8 babies per class, as this allows for more one on one time with the teacher.
To find out where your nearest classes are, visit our ‘Find a Class’ page.