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How to Get Started Swimming With Your Baby

by Tania Cowling | June 20th, 2016 | Infants/Toddlers, Seasonal
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Parent-&-baby-at-poolGetting your baby into a pool is one of the smartest things a parent can do. It’s never too early to teach swimming, keeping safety in mind of course. Most of my tips below are about taking your little one into a full-size pool with you, but do keep in mind that placing your baby into a kiddie pool in the yard needs as much supervision as the big one. Children can drown even in a small amount of water if unattended.

If you are going to a community pool, get there early to avoid the crowds. Mornings are best, and hopefully your little bundle or joy will be well-rested from his/her sleep from the previous night. The sun is also less strong and bright before 10 a.m., lowering your baby and mom’s risk of sun damage. However, don’t forget about putting on sunscreen. Also, try to find out the pool’s water temperature before you enter. Babies are comfiest in water between 80 and 85 degrees F.

Make sure to relax as you ease into the water. Your baby can sense your mood if you are tense or nervous. Start slowly by dipping your tot’s toes and feet into the water so he can get used to the feel on his skin. Gradually ease into the water after that. Once you are inside the water, stand in a comfortable place and hold onto the baby at all times.

Take a small bath toy into the water with you for her to hold. You can even try playing a traditional game, such as motorboat. Hold your baby gently under her armpits and sway her back and forth. Sing the tune, “motor boat, motor boat, go so slow.” Then pick up the pace (if she is willing) to “motor boat, motor boat, step on the gas.” Continue playing as long as your little learner is content.

If your baby gets upset, it’s time to get out of the water. Your want his first experience to be a happy one. Trying to force a crying baby back into the pool at this time may do more harm than good. Maybe wait another week and try it again. And, use the same little game in your child’s bath (less space, but sing the tune) to remind him how much fun this game can be even in bath water.

Swimming lessons are important, but I would opt for a mommy and me type class, where only you are holding your child for first lessons. After a year old, you may want to try lessons with the instructor handling your child or in a group session. Try not to use swim aids like water wings or other inflatable flotation devices, as these tend to give babies (and parents) a false sense of security.

And a major tip…

Make sure your baby wears a swim diaper in the pool. You can find these in baby stores or drug stores. You want to catch the urine so it doesn’t seep into the water. Hopefully all the parents will abide by this practice to avoid bacteria in the water that your baby will unfortunately drink.

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