I sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed by all of the things we need to teach our kids, from walking to wiping their own bum (can’t wait for that one!), to how to be a good person and, the really important life skill, how to sing all the words to the Rolling Stones You Can’t Always Get What You Want.
Another thing that was important to me was teaching my kids how to swim; but if I feel nervous about showing them how to crawl on dry land, getting them to do the back crawl is a whole (deeper) level of freak out. At least in part, because getting in the pool with my baby usually means pouring my postpartum body into a swimming costume for the first time.
I don’t know why it feels so daunting, I mean your little one started out life swimming around in a placenta for nine months, that’s almost Olympic levels of commitment! However, the scariness is partly why I think it’s so important to teach them to be comfortable and confident in the water. At some point they’re likely to jump into something bigger than a muddy puddle and I’d like them to know how to (at least) throw out some doggy paddle.
When I was wee, my Dad would chuck me in the deep end and say if I couldn’t swim then I couldn’t come on our summer holiday. However, it’s 2018 and we don’t do that kind of thing any more! So, here’s a few things that will help it all go swimmingly when you get in the pool with your baby.
When Can You Go?
Incredibly, babies up to the age of six months instinctively hold their breath underwater. It’s therefore quite a good idea to start them when they’re little. You can go swimming with your baby from as little as a few weeks after birth, even (to my surprise) before they’ve had their immunisations.
Where Should You Go?
If you’re taking baby swimming when they’re small, it’s a good idea to find out the temperature of the pool; up to three months old and babies need water 32C or warmer, then up to a year around 30C (or extra layers, see below). A standard adult pool is usually 25-27C to give you an idea of the difference! Brr! You don’t need to take them to a baby pool, though, just warm enough for your baby!
What To Take?
Getting cold is one of the most common reasons babies get grumpy in the water. And if you’re already worried about getting them in the pool, their wee lips starting to turn blue can be a bit of a shock. Baby wetsuits or wraps help to keep them cosy and, what’s more, makes them look like cute little baby surfers too!
You might want smalls to be able to float, but the last thing you want to ruin your swimming experience is a floater (sorry if you’ve just choked on your tea!). Swimming nappies are an absolute essential. Normal nappies don’t work as they take on too much water and are likely to pop off and drift about the deep end like Titanic. You will not be on top of the world if that happens! Most pools require swim nappies up until around three years old or six months potty trained.
But don’t forget their normal nappies for afterwards. I learnt the hard way that swim nappies don’t contain wees… not the kind of shower I was after!
Even if baby is lovely and warm in the water, they’re likely to be a bit chilly when you get out. So, it’s a good idea to have plenty of towels. One with a hood helps baby to regulate their temperature by keeping their head covered. These don’t have to be expensive ones, supermarkets have some lovely ones. I tend to take an extra towel too, just in case there’s no baby changer so I can make a makeshift nest on the floor.
Going swimming with a baby is exhausting work, I’m always starving when we get out and your little one will be too. They might need a decent glug of milk afterwards (even if they’ve drunk half the pool!), or if they’re on solids a refreshing snack, like some fruit. My mum used to call them ‘shivery bites’ because we would munch them shivering in our towels!
If simply leaving the house with a wee one is a military procedure then going swimming can feel like an Arctic expedition. There’s a lot to remember so I make a kit list on my phone:
- Swim Nappies
- Swim Suit / Wrap
- More Towels
- Baby Wash
- More Snacks
And the final thing to remember? It’s meant to be fun, if you or your baby isn’t enjoying themselves, take a break. Kick back to the baby bath and continue to get them used to the water at home and then you can jump back in when you both feel ready.
Disclaimer: this post is sponsored by Asda.