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If you’re keen to get into the pool and turn your growing baby into a water baby, read our advice before you start splashing about
Dig out that swimming costume! Getting in the pool is a great activity for mum, dad and baby.
If you’re thinking of taking your baby swimming for the first time, we have the lowdown on what to do and when to do it.
When can you take a baby swimming?
According to the Department of Health, you can take your baby swimming from a very young age and there’s no need to wait for them to be vaccinated.
‘Our youngest swimmer was only one day old,’ says Paul Thompson, co-founder of Water Babies swim school. ‘The skin-to-skin contact makes it one of the best ways to bond with your baby.’ Why should I take my baby swimming?
‘Swimming from birth is fantastic for your little one’s health and development,’ says Thompson. ‘Being in the water helps to improve coordination, balance and strength as babies exercise their muscles much more freely in water.’
Introducing a child to warm water at a young age can also help develop confidence and essential water safety skills as they get older.
Won’t my baby get cold in a swimming pool?
If your baby is younger than six months, choose a pool that is heated to around 32°C. If you’re not sure about the temperature of your local pool, phone and ask before leaving home, or ask the pool attendant to check before you get in.
It’s best to keep the first swim short – no longer than 10 minutes – and keep a warm towel at the poolside to wrap your baby in as soon as you get out.
What should I take for baby’s first swim?
• Swimming costume or trunks
• Swimming nappies
• Warm towels, ideally with hoods, and a towelling dressing gown, if you have one
• Milk to have afterwards, plus a snack if they’re on solid food – swimming is hungry work
• A changing mat, a nappy for afterwards and wipes
• Warm clothes to wear home
What should I do with my baby in the water?
Enter the water slowly and hold your baby close to you to begin with: your body will offer reassurance and warmth. Talk to them softly and keep eye contact.
‘Make it fun for little ones by singing, smiling and blowing bubbles,’ says Thompson. ‘Trickle a little water onto the crown of their head to get them used to water on their face.
‘Let them explore water’s natural buoyancy by gently swishing them from side to side, backwards and forwards, while singing. ‘Row, row, row the boat’ works well.
‘Also encourage them to float on their backs, with you supporting their head. Babies generally love this as it gives them a sense of freedom.’
All this can be practised at home in the bath before your first swim. Don’t forget to relax and enjoy this special experience with your little star!
By Emily Bamber