Practical Advice for Baby Swimming
Swimming with your baby offers loads of benefits for both of you and the great news is that you won’t need to wait too long until you are able to get in the water and get started.
A trip to the swimming pool with your baby is the perfect opportunity for some bonding time away from the distractions of day to day life. In the pool you are free to focus on your baby and give them your full attention as you introduce them to the water. Of course, swimming is not only a great way to bond with your baby and stay active after birth, learning to swim is a vital skill and could also one day save your child’s life.
WHEN CAN I START SWIMMING WITH MY BABY?
While your baby can start swimming at any age, potentially right from birth, new mums need to wait until their lochia (postnatal bleeding and discharge) has completely finished to reduce the risk of picking up an infection. Waiting until after the 6 week postnatal check to make sure everything has healed is a good idea before heading to the pool.
Usual advice in the past was to wait until your baby had completed their course of vaccinations at 6 months before they went swimming, although this is now thought unnecessary.
If you plan to take your baby to a baby swimming class there will often be a weight or age criteria for starting- check out the details of your local class.
Even if you’re not taking baby to the pool in those early days, they can still enjoy all the sensations of being in water when in the bath. This has the added benefit that you control the temperature of the water- small babies find it difficult to control their body temperature and cool down easily.
WHAT PRECAUTIONS SHOULD I TAKE BEFORE GOING SWIMMING WITH MY BABY?
Before you take your baby swimming contact the pool to check the temperature of the water. Young babies will need to swim in a pool heated to 32 degrees to prevent them from getting too cold in the water.
Find out when the pool is usually quiet, as this will help make the first trip to the pool much less stressful. Going at a quiet time means that the pool will be less noisy and crowded and less likely to upset your baby. Swimming off-peak will also make it easier for you to find a changing cubicle to use straight away in case you need to feed your baby or deal with an impromptu nappy change situation.
For their first trips to the swimming pool it is best to keep your time in the water short as babies lose their body heat quickly. 10 minutes in the pool may be a good starting point before building up to 20 minutes, but take your baby out of the pool and wrap them up in a towel if they start to shiver or show signs of being cold.
Remember to never take your baby swimming if they are unwell. If your baby has been ill with a stomach bug you should wait at least 48 hours after all symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea have stopped before taking them swimming.