It’s probably a moment you’ve thought about since you were first pregnant, and is definitely a childhood milestone – taking your baby swimming! Taking your little one swimming is set to be one of the biggest pleasures of their babyhood and is a wonderful opportunity for close bonding, plenty of giggles and lots of wonder. But how can you ensure you have a splashtastic time when you take baby swimming for the first time?
When can babies go swimming?
Babies can, technically, go swimming from birth. After all, they were snuggly inside their very own water world for nine months! There’s no need to wait until their immunisations are complete.
That said, just because your baby is ready for the water from day one, doesn’t mean you are! Mums need to take a little more time to recover from the birth before taking baby swimming for the first time. You should wait for around one week after your lochia (post-natal bleeding) has stopped, to prevent an infection. If you’ve had a perineal tear or caesarean section, wait until after your postnatal check.
So, really, it’s more a question of when can you take a baby swimming! Go when you feel ready, and want to. There’s no rush.
Choose a warm pool
Most public swimming pools are around 27-28 °C. That’s great for doing lengths as an adult, or for older kids to play in, but it’s not great for babies who can’t regulate their temperature and can’t move consciously to stay warm.
As such, choose a warm pool, like a baby or teaching pool. These pools are heated to around 32 °C. This will ensure you and your little one can have more than 5 minutes in the pool before you need to get out because your little one is chilly! Taking a baby swimming can involve quite a lot of effort and preparation, so you want it to be worth it!
What do I need to take baby swimming?
First and foremost, buy some swim nappies when taking baby swimming. Some babies hit the water and let it all go, and you don’t want to be the one doing the walk of shame when the pool is evacuated! You can use disposable swim nappies, but we recommend covering them with a fitted pant with neoprene legs, like the Zoggy Swimsure. Alternatively, reusable swim nappies, like this adorable ice cream swim nappy, fit snuggly.
Bloss have a 15% discount available with Zoggs, so you can get swim nappies easily.
You’ll also need to take a soft towel or two. Hooded towels are excellent for swimming as you can wrap baby up warm.
Little ones, including even tiny babies, seem to build up an appetite swimming. If you’re bottle-feeding, take everything you need for a feed, and for older babies and toddlers, take a snack. Many pools have changing tables, but also bring a changing mat and your nappy bag. Make sure that baby has a warm outfit and a toasty hat for afterwards.
Do I need baby swimming aids?
When taking a baby swimming, you don’t need any particular swimming aids. Most classes will say no aids are to be used. However, if you’re swimming as a family or want more assurance that your little one is safe, there are various baby swimming aids that you can choose from.
Older babies and toddlers can use arm bands under supervision. Alternatively, inflatable ring seats can make it easier if you’re taking an older child swimming too and want to be able to keep your eye on your baby but have more freedom with your hands.
How do I keep my baby safe when going swimming?
Having chosen a pool that’s warm enough, you then want to think about how to keep baby safe both poolside and in the water
On the poolside, it’s all about being organised! Keep your baby in their pram or sling as you lay everything out, using a changing table. Keep them in the pram or highly supervised on the table while you get changed. Once you’re ready, you can change your little one. Do the process in reverse when you get out.
Entering the water, if you’ve chosen a dedicated learning pool, they typically have a sloped entrance or big wide steps, allowing you to carry your baby into the water safely.
When you are in the water, you can gradually lower your baby in. Keep them moving so that they stay warm, and allow the water to come up to their shoulder level. Keep a firm handle under your baby’s arms and if they seem unsure, bring them closer to your body. Babies have an in-built gag reflex, so feel assured that they are better primed for going underwater than you are!
Keep your first swim quite short, just around 15 minutes. You can build up to longer swims as you both get used to it. When your baby is under six months, keep pool sessions to less than half an hour. If your little one is shivering, then it’s time to get out and wrap up warm.
Don’t take your baby swimming if they are feeling unwell or seem under the weather. You mustn’t take a baby swimming if they’ve had a bad tummy for at least 48 hours. If your baby has any skin problems, including eczema, ask your doctor before going swimming and keep a close eye out for irritation in the water and afterwards.
Bloss top tips for taking baby swimming
Taking baby swimming can feel momentous, and even overwhelming. But we promise that it can also be very fun and enjoyable too. Some of your favourite memories of your baby’s babyhood and young childhood could well end up being water-based!
Read our top tips so that you feel confident about taking baby swimming:
- Get your baby used to water first in the bathtub at home. Splash, lie them flat, and glide them through the water.
- Take a favourite bath toy to play with.
- Go when the pool isn’t busy.
- Take help the first time you go.
- Time the swim around nap and feeding times.
- Keep eye contact with baby and use a reassuring voice.
- Teach your little one to blow bubbles by putting your face under the water and demonstrating.
- Encourage your baby to kick their legs by laying them on their back with their head on your shoulder.
- Sign up for a baby swimming class to meet others and help your baby learn to swim safely.
Don’t forget our Zoggs discount as you get kitted out to take your baby swimming for the first time!