Taking your baby swimming can be a daunting prospect. It is natural to be initially cautious and have lots of questions when it comes to your first time. To help you with this, here are a collection of some frequently asked questions associated with baby swimming:
Why teach my baby to swim?
The main benefit of starting so young with your child in the pool is to get them used to being in the water. Babies will pick up and develop primitive strokes that give them confidence throughout their whole life when swimming. Likewise, if you begin too late it may produce a negative effect where children become poor swimmers or are scared to enter the water.
At what age can my baby start swimming?
There is no definitive age for when children can start swimming as babies have a natural affinity with water. For new mums however it is advisable to wait around 6 weeks after giving birth; this is so as to avoid any potential infections from the pool. Many baby swimming classes will start at around 4-6 weeks so this is generally accepted as the most suitable time frame.
Is it safe for babies in the water?
With the right amount of care and protection then it is perfectly safe for your baby to be in the water. One misconception is that babies must wait for their vaccinations before they enter a pool; this isn’t the case as the presence of chlorine will kill off any germs. Also crucial is the temperature of the water, which ideally should be 30-32 degrees or higher. If you’re concerned that this isn’t the case then baby wet-suits can be purchased as a way to store body heat.
What should my baby wear?
Before babies are toilet-trained then it may be wise to use swim nappies for your child; they are typically a mandatory requirement for public swimming pools as a hygienic precaution, you can see they aren’t ugly things and can find a decent range here. Swim nappies are specially designed to hold any waste whilst not absorbing liquids, thus not weighing your baby down like regular nappies will do.
How long should my baby stay in the water?
The initial swimming sessions should last no longer than 20 minutes. If you’re baby appears to be uncomfortable or looks distressed then take them out earlier than this. If they start to shiver then this is a sign that the water is too cold for them also.
What if my child is ill?
If your child is showing any signs of illness then it is advisable to remain cautious and wait until they show signs of recovery. Even if they have a minor illness such as a chest infection, sickness or flu then the general conditions of a swimming baths may not be suitable. If the water itself is a suitable temperature, the sudden cold rush that can hit your baby when out of the pool can have detrimental effects.
What equipment should I take with me?
It is important to prepare properly for your baby swim session beforehand. Along with swim nappies also think of baby wet-suits if concerned about the water temperature. In addition, remember to pack 1 or 2 towels to wrap your baby up when you first leave the pool; swimming baths can be notoriously cold when out of the water. Babies and infants can also become hungry after a swim so take suitable amount of food and water. It may also be useful to take pool toys with you from home to help your child feel more relaxed in a public environment.
Can I submerge my baby?
Many parents will again be naturally worried about submerging their baby underneath the water for the first time. In fact, we as humans will have our strongest gag reflex in the first 6 months of our life; this is an impulse which prevents water being inhaled into the lungs. Quite amazingly, babies can hold their breath underwater naturally and continue to intake oxygen. However, it is strongly recommended you only attempt submerging under professional supervision.
Should I enroll in baby swim classes?
Baby swim classes will be supervised by experienced professionals who are trained create a relaxed and safe atmosphere in the pool. They will usually be in small groups, where parents can stand comfortably in the shallow end of heated swimming pools and listen to the instructions. Small exercises will improve your baby’s stroke action and reaction to the water, helping them to become confident in the water as they grow older.
Entering into a swimming routine with your little one shouldn’t be a chore; you can make it as fun as possible while still being careful and having the best care for them while they are splashing about. Make it fun!