As the weather hots up, what better way to keep you and baby cool than a trip to the pool? Babies love to swim and it can be a fantastic way to bond with your little one during the warm summer months. However, it can also be potentially dangerous unless you know what you’re doing.
If you want to ensure your baby’s first trip to the pool is memorable for all the right reasons, below you’ll discover 15 great tips to follow.
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1. Make Sure The Pool Has A Baby Friendly Temperature
Did you know that babies get cold very quickly? A temperature that feels quite warm to you, could be hazardous for your child. So, look for a pool that’s heated to a minimum temperature of 90 Degrees Fahrenheit for infants under 3 months, and 85 Degrees Fahrenheit for babies aged 3 months and over.
If the water is too cool, your baby could be at risk of developing hypothermia. To spot the signs of this while in the water, look to see if baby is shivering or if their lips are starting to turn blue. If they are, take them out of the pool and wrap them in a warm towel before offering a feed. This should help raise the temperature. However, it’s also a good idea to seek help from the pool staff.
Important note – While a pool temperature of 85 or 90 Degrees Fahrenheit is the general recommended temperature, it’s worth seeking advice from your pediatrician before you go to see what they recommend.
2. Keep The Sessions Short
While you may enjoy being in the pool for half an hour to an hour, babies should only begin by staying in the water for around 10 minutes. They don’t have the stamina or the attention span required to spend long periods of time in the water just yet.
You can start to build up to 20 minute sessions. If your baby is under a year old, the maximum amount of time you should stay in the water is 30 minutes.
3. Consider Starting In The Bathtub
The bathtub is the best place to introduce your little one to water, especially if they’re still a newborn. This is obviously something you’ll have already have been doing, but you can start to add things to their bath time routine to imitate what will happen in a swimming session at the pool.
In particular, use it as a chance to let your little one discover how water feels on their head. Fill a small cup and gently and slowly pour a little onto baby’s head. Allow the water to run down over the face. Some babies won’t mind this at all, while others may start to cry at the unexpected and unfamiliar feel of the water on their face.
Another tip is to lie baby on their back and gently glide them across the water. This again will mimic some of the movements they’ll be doing in the pool. If you really want to make them feel comfortable in the water, you can also try feeding them in there. This will help them to associate the water as a safe, happy place to be.
Now the only thing to note here, is to be careful not to pour too much water onto baby’s head. Do it a little at a time as to not fully overwhelm your little one.
4. Don’t Take Them If They Haven’t Been Well
Babies shouldn’t swim for at least 48 hours after they’ve had an upset tummy. It’s also important not to take them to the pool if they aren’t feeling well. So, if they have a cold or they have a slight temperature, it’s safer to stay at home.
5. Ensure You’ve Got The Right Equipment
There’s a few things you’re going to need for your first pool trip with baby. Swim diapers are one of the main essentials you’ll need to invest in. Regular diapers aren’t usually allowed in pools and they aren’t a good idea either. This is because they will expand in the water. So, you’ll need to double check what the pool’s policy is on swim diapers as some will expect an over-diaper to be worn as well as a paper or reusable swim diaper.
Not all pools have baby changing facilities so it’s a good idea to take a changing mat so you aren’t having to rely upon a bench. Then obviously you’ll also need towels for you and baby, as well as a change of diaper and feeding equipment as your baby is likely to be hungry after swimming.
Finally, you could also take some of your little one’s favorite bath toys to keep them occupied whilst you’re in the water. They will also help to relax your baby as they have something familiar to play with.
6. Have Fun!
One of the most important tips to follow on baby’s first pool trip is to make it fun. The more fun your little one has in the water, the more they’ll enjoy it the next time you go. So, to make it fun you can take their favorite bath toys as mentioned above, as well as sing, create bubbles and simply smiling to your baby.
7. Don’t Feed Baby An Hour Before Going
Avoid feeding your little one for at least an hour before you take them to the pool. The reason being, if they feel full and they accidentally get a tiny amount of water in the nose or mouth, they could end up being sick. This will obviously be distressing for them and it could lead to a dislike of water.
If your baby is hungry beforehand, you can give them a small top-up feed. This should be done around 15-20 minutes before you get into the pool and remember – only give them a small amount!
8. Remember – Tears Don’t Necessarily Mean Baby Hates The Water
It’s not uncommon for babies to cry when they’re in the pool. However, it can be worrying as a parent as you obviously don’t want to see your little one unhappy. What you need to remember is that swimming is new to your little one and it’s highly likely they will get water splashed on their face at some point. This will shock your baby, often causing instant tears.
All they need at this point is a little reassurance that it’s ok. It’s also worth noting that the younger your little one is, the less it will bother them.
9. Don’t Plan Anything Else For The Day
While the first swimming session with your baby may only be short, it’s important not to rush. Don’t schedule anything else in for the day and make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get to the pool, get changed, swim, get dry and feed your little one before heading home.
You want to really be able to enjoy baby’s first pool trip and you won’t be able to do that if you’re constantly thinking about the next place you need to be. Also, remember that if you’re stressed, your baby will pick up on that and they’ll become stressed too – not what you want for their first pool experience!
10. Ensure Your Baby Is Facing You
The first few times you take your baby into the pool, it’s important to make sure they are facing you. If they can’t see you, they’ll automatically panic, even if they can feel you. Seeing your face will reassure them and make it much less daunting. Also, remember to look relaxed and smile.
11. Consider Baby Swimming Classes
If this is your first time taking a baby to the pool, it’s really useful to sign up to baby swimming classes. This will help reassure you, as well as your little one and ensure you are both safe.
There’s a lot of different types of classes available, so take your time to look at what is available in your local area and which classes would best suit you and your baby.
12. Get Your Baby Used To Having Their Ears Underwater
At some point when you and baby are comfortable in the water, you’ll be in the position all parents dread – dipping their little one underwater for the first time. Before you get there however, it’s a good idea to first get them used to having their ears underwater.
The best way you can do this is by laying baby on their back while supporting them as usual. Then, slowly and gently lower their head into the water until their ears are submerged. This will be quite strange for your baby as the sound will suddenly become muffled and it may cause them to panic. To start with, only hold the ears underwater for a few seconds. This will prevent them from becoming overwhelmed and it’s a fantastic way to prepare them for being fully submerged underwater.
If this is something that sounds scary to you, you may consider applying the previous tip and sign them up for classes with a professional.
13. Keep Moving
As mentioned earlier, babies do get cold quite quickly in the water. So, you’ll want to avoid just standing there throughout the session. Instead, move around a lot and try out different positions. This will help keep your little one warm and help to make it more fun too.
If you’re not confident moving around too much, just bounce baby up and down in the same spot. You can also swoosh them around a little in the water.
14. Consider Taking The Entire Family
The more people who are there that your baby recognizes, the more reassured they will feel. It’s also a fantastic way to bond with the family if you all go together. As an added bonus, this will also make it easier for family to take your baby swimming without you. If you’re the only one who takes baby swimming, they may panic if you’re not there one time.
15. Improve Your Own Swimming Skills
If you’re not confident in the water, it’s a great idea to improve your own swimming skills before taking baby. The problem is, if you’re not comfortable, your baby will sense that and they won’t feel comfortable either. You’ll also have a lot more fun together in the pool if you’re confident in your abilities.
Overall, taking your little one swimming for the first time can be daunting, but the 15 tips above will really help to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable time.
Do you have any more tips? We’d love it if you’d share them below, or simply tell us about your baby’s first experience at the pool!