A Guide to Swimming With Your Baby
No doubt you love the water and want to inspire your young children to be the same. After all, when kids have a love and respect for the water, this could one day save lives. So, when is the right time to teach your baby to swim? And how do you go about it? This article is the complete guide to teaching babies aged under two to swim. It's the only guide that you'll ever need.
Here's a little baby who learned how to save himself from drowning through swimming lessons. What a clever little bub!
Taking the Plunge
If you're wondering when's the best time to start. The answer is about six weeks after birth. It's more about the risk to mum rather than baby. Six weeks after the birth, gives mothers ample time to heal, if they have had a caesarian section or require stitches. Another important factor to remember, is that babies will be unable to control their bodily functions. Babies relieving themselves in the water, can create toxic bacterial growth in the pool. This can lead to nausea, sickness and stomach upsets for the baby herself, and anybody else who swims in the pool. To mitigate against this risk, be sure to use waterproof nappies to protect against the spread of germs and bacteria.
Also, just so you're aware, there's no need to wait until your baby has had the full round of immunisation, before entering the pool. In terms of pool temperature, the optimal temperature for a baby younger than six months is 32 degrees Celcius. Any colder than this can mean that the baby will quickly lose heat in their tiny bodies. There's plenty of great swim schools for the tiny tots across Australia. Just be sure to avoid the big public pools, as they are far too cold.
Baby's First Swim: The Checklist
Be sure to take these items along on the day to be well prepared.
- Reusable, water proof nappies: These fit over regular nappies and can easily be washed and reused again.
- A snack: if your baby has started on solids, bring him something to eat. Babies get hungry quickly when swimming.
- A changing mat and nappy bag: Including Wet Ones and any other baby changing paraphernalia that you cart around.
- Bath toys: Take a couple of them with you, as your bub may feel a bit more relaxed and at ease, if he goes along with some familiar friends.
- A hooded towel: Take a soft terry-towelling hooded towel, or a towelling dressing gown to immediately warm them up after the swim.
- A warm bottle: whether it's formula or breast milk, have a bottle ready and able to be warmed up for after the swim.
Check with the pool attendant or staff first: Make sure that the leisure centre is equipped with an adequate pool heater or pool pump, that will keep the temperature at a toasty 32 degrees Celcius.
Be responsive: As soon as he or she begins to shiver or look slightly cold then it's time to get dried off and warm again.
Keep the sessions short: To begin with, a swim of around 10 minutes is sufficient. After this, build up to 20 minutes over the following weeks. The maximum length of time for an infant should be 30 minutes. Any longer than this, and baby will be feeling the cold.
Be mindful of sickness: If your baby seems unwell, has a temperature, or a tummy bug then it's not a good idea to swim. This is her safety as well as other people's, who may contract the bug via the warm pool water. Instead wait until 48 hours after she's feeling better.
Be mindful of allergies: If you notice any skin irritations or rashes that may be caused by the Chlorine, speak with your doctor about getting an allergy test.
Teaching Your Baby to Swim Without Lessons
Make bath time fun with lots of funny toys, laughter and splashing. Then your baby will find it relatively easy to transition from the bath to a bigger pool.
Go to the pool at a time when it's not busy, perhaps during the day. Be sure to ring ahead and make sure there's stroller access, baby changing facilities and a pool with the right temperature.
1. Keep close eye contact with your baby and hold him close, until he acclimatises to the water temperature.
2. Try extending out your arms and allowing him to float and swish around you.
3. Talk to him, praise him and be positive.
4. Let your baby splash and play with this toys. Encourage him to get active, move around and enjoy himself, praising him the whole time.
5. Encourage blowing under water by blowing a toy across the water to him and then getting him to mimic you. This will demonstrate the importance of blowing and not inhaling underwater.
6. Place his head against your shoulder, supporting him and encourage him to kick his legs.
Here's a free interactive guide for parents to teach their babies to swim, with lots of fun exercises for them.
Enrolling in a Baby Swim Class
This is normally about ten or so mums, dads and babies, who are led by an instructor. Try and not be overly worried about letting your baby swim under water. Babies have an in-built gag reflex until the age of about 18 months. That means they hold their breath under water without even thinking. They are born to be little swimmers and we should encourage it.
Here's some more information about the Swim and Play Program that's available all over Australia.
Evoheat are Australia's leading pool and spa heating specialists. We have been keeping mums and babies happy and warm since 2006. We can help to create the perfect playground for your baby to learn to swim, speak with us today!