Getting your little one used to the water as soon as you can is a great idea. Whilst it’s fun and enjoyable at the time, it’s also great for your child’s safety. Teaching them the basics when they’re younger means they are more likely to get themselves out of a bad situation. It’s also reassuring for you as a parent to know that your child knows how to float in the water if needed and to swim up from underwater. However, you won’t be able to do these things straight away. You firstly need to get your baby used to the water, but how quickly can you take them into a pool? We’ve got all of your questions answered.
So, when can you take a baby swimming?
There’s no certain age where your baby can go into the water. In fact, they can go in from birth. If this wasn’t the case, water births wouldn’t be as popular as they currently are. It’s important to remember that whilst your baby is a new-born, they are still developing and there a certain thing they cannot do.
One of them is controlling their body temperature. This is often spoken about when discussing how you should dress your baby for bed. When your baby gets too hot, it’s extremely difficult for them to cool down – this also applies with being too cold. This can cause implications to their health and in worst case scenarios, death.
This means that if your baby goes into the water and gets too cold, it can be a struggle to regulate their temperature back to normal. As well as this, you need to remember that infections can be easily picked up in places like swimming pools. An infection is the last thing you want whilst your baby is still so young.
Because of these developments, it’s best to wait till your baby is around 2 months old before taking them into a pool. During this time, you can help them get used to the water as swimming lessons don’t start for babies until they are around 6 months.
If you can’t wait to get your baby into a pool and choose to as soon as they turn 2 months old, there’s a couple of things to consider. Firstly, the pool should be heated to around 32 degrees. This is a good temperature where your baby will not get too hot or cold during the time they are in. Secondly, it’s best to try and pick a smaller sized pool. The larger the pool, the colder it will be, even if it is heated.
The most important thing to remember is to stay with your baby at all times. Like crawling or walking, your baby needs to learn how to float in the water and swim. At 2 months old, this is not something they will grasp onto quickly so it’s important that they are monitored at all times.
Why should I take my baby swimming?
As we mentioned earlier, getting your baby used to the water is great for their safety. But simply, babies love being in the water. Not only does it resonate the feeling of them being in the womb, it’s a fantastic way for a parent and baby to bond. New experiences are always great with your baby and you should make the most out of them.
Being in the water will also help your child with their sensory developments. There will be different feelings, smells and sounds for them to experience and it’s great to watch their reactions. Allow them to splash around and use their arms and legs – this will get them used to the feeling quicker and will make them much more comfortable.
Many children have a fear of water as they grow up. This can stem from the fact they haven’t been exposed to water whilst developing. Getting your baby into the water when they’re younger means they will have much more confidence when it comes to swimming.
Can babies swim?
Some believe that babies are born with the ability to swim – this is not correct. As we mentioned earlier, babies need to learn how to swim just like how they need to learn how to walk.
People have believed this because of the reflexes that babies are born with. The bradycardic response reflex allows babies to hold their breath and open their eyes when they are put under water without even thinking about it. However, this reflex usually disappears by the time they are 6 months old. You baby will not be able to hold their breath for a substantial amount of time and can lead to them swallowing too much water.
When getting your baby used to the water, you should keep hold of them at all times. Swimming lessons for babies under a year old will usually consist of getting them used to be under the water for very short periods of time. This will not involve physically getting your baby to swim.
You can get advice from paediatricians in your area to find out what swimming lessons they advise for your baby’s age. Some swimming teachers rely on reflexes to help the baby swim – this will not work as the reflex disappears.
Assist your baby at all times in a swimming pool before they are old enough to be more independent.
Tips for taking your baby into a pool
There are some important things you should remember and take into consideration before taking your little one into a pool. These tips are provided to ensure you and your baby are comfortable and safe during the time you’re in the pool:
- Have towels ready for you and your baby as soon as you come out of the water. Your baby will feel the cold much quicker and it’s important that you get them nice and warm.
- Swim nappies are essential! The last thing you want is your baby to have an accident in the pool. You can also find baby swimwear that provides the same features as swimming nappies. We’ll go more in depth about this later.
- Make sure your swimming pool has a changing table for your baby. This will make things much easier, especially when you’re coming out.
- Find a pool heated to around 32 degrees to protect your baby from getting too cold.
How to teach a baby to swim
Like we’ve said, before your baby learns how to swim, they need to be used to the water. This can be daunting for some parents as you’re not sure how they will react, but there are plenty of ways you can make this experience stress-free and fun. Follow some of our tips below to make things a lot easier!
- Get to the pool early. Try and find out what the least busy times are at your local pool. These may vary at different places but they’re normally quiet just as they open. Although it might be early, it’s the best way to get your baby used to the environment without any distractions. Your baby can fully focus on you for a much calmer experience.
- Stay calm. Your baby will sense if you’re stressed out and your behaviours will reflect on theirs. Take things slowly and relax throughout the process.
- Entertainment. If you do find that your baby is slightly distressed of confused about being in the water, using toys is a great way to make it entertaining. You can also sing songs that tie in with actions you can do in the water to add positivity.
- Don’t force your baby. If your baby is a little bit distressed, you can try and combat this with reassurance from yourself. However, if you find that they’re extremely upset and won’t calm down, it’s best to get out of the pool for the day. Your baby may take a little while to get used to the feeling of the pool – take it slow.
After they have gotten used to the water and are old enough to attend baby swimming lessons, this is when you can move up a stage. You can start these at 6 months old but a lot of experts recommend starting when they turn 1 instead.
Your little one will learn basic swimming skills such as how to kick their legs properly as well as how to pull with their arms. This is done by showing them the movement and then demonstrating on them by assisting with their arms and legs. Depending on your child’s age, the things they learn will be slightly different.
For the first 3-4 years of your child’s life, they will take basic steps to become more comfortable in the water, using floats to assist their movements. After they are confident enough, they will bale to take off swimming on their own (they may still need a support or float at this point for safety).
If teaching your baby to swim and protect themselves in the water is essential, we recommend going to a professional teacher for help. However, if you cannot do this or choose not to, you can always teach these skills to your baby yourself.
What do babies wear for swimming?
When your baby is younger, you can’t just take them into the pool with their nappy on. If they have an accident or go to the toilet during this time, it won’t be held in and can be an unpleasant experience for you and other people in the pool.
You can’t just throw a swimming costume on your little one whilst they are young. To prevent any accidents from happening, there are specially designed swimwear for your baby.
Swimwear for babies aged 0-18 months
Your baby will still be in nappies at this stage, so you need to look into purchasing a swimming nappy. There are two types of swimming nappies available to buy.
- Disposable swimming nappies. These are nappies that you only put onto your baby once and then throw away at the end. They have the same look as a normal nappy, but the difference is that they won’t fill up with pool water! It has been found that these nappies aren’t as effective at preventing faeces from getting into the pool.
- Reusable swimming nappies. Instead of throwing them away each time, these can be taken home with you to be washed and reused again. Unlike the disposable nappies, reusable nappies don’t have the same look as a normal nappy does and instead, look like swimming shorts. With this design and fit, faeces are less likely to get into the pool.
If we were to recommend one of these, it would be the reusable nappy. Firstly, it’s convenient being able to use it over and over again. But the most important thing is that the effectiveness of them are much better. With reusable nappies, you don’t have to worry about leakages whilst you’re in the pool. You should be enjoying this time with your baby, not worrying if their nappy is going to fail on you.
Reusable nappies usually have cuffs that go around their thighs and waist. This prevents anything coming out of the nappy. The design also allows your baby to move around freely without any restriction – something that’s very important when they’re getting used to the water.
Moving from swimming nappies
Once your child is confidently out of nappies at home, you won’t need them whilst they’re in the pool either. If your child is a boy, you can buy a pair of tight or loose swimming shorts or a full wetsuit for them to swim in. A wetsuit will keep your baby warmer and is ideal for pools that might be slightly colder. For girls, a swimsuit will do just fine – just make sure it fits correctly and is comfortable. You can also purchase wetsuits for girls too.
If your little one is still unsure about the water when it comes to going to the pool, themed swimming costumes/shorts can be a massive help. Find swimming attire with their favourite characters on to encourage them to put the outfit on and get into the pool.
Benefits of your baby being in the pool
There are plenty of reasons why you should consider getting your baby into the pool from a young age. There’s no need to be worried about the experience. Stay in the shallow end of the pool and have your baby at arm’s reach all of the time. Some benefits include:
- Brain growth/stimulation
- Reduce the risk of drowning or struggling in the water
- Improve their confidence
- Great way to bond with each other
- Starts building muscle for strength
- Better balance when walking
- Takes up energy – better sleeping patterns
- More of an appetite
We hope that this blog has encouraged you to take the leap and get your little one into the water. If it’s something you’re still not comfortable with, leave it a little longer until you are. You can always ask a friend to come along with their baby or child to be a form of support.