Karen Pickering has told us how she felt taking her babies swimming so here are her top tips for taking your baby for the first time swimming!!
As a mum of a newborn baby the thought of getting out of the door to go for a coffee or to the shops can seem impossible some days so it's no surprise that the idea of taking your baby swimming can be very daunting.
There are some things you can do to prepare however and some tips that will help make it much less nerve-wracking and the wonderful bonding experience and health benefits you and baby can get will make it worth the effort
When is the right time?
You can take baby swimming as soon as you are ready, NHS guidelines state that there is no need to wait until baby has had vaccinations. Some mums will need some recovery time after a difficult birth or a c-section so waiting until after the 6 week check is a good idea.
Before you take baby swimming, or even before baby is born, check out the pool for yourself. Have a look at the changing rooms, see what buggy space there is, if there are baby changing facilities, a cafe or seating for after, what the showers are like, etc. The more comfortable you are with the surroundings the easier it will be when you have baby with you.
Try not to organise your swim for a time when baby would normally be feeding or napping. Being hungry &/or tired will not help baby, or you, enjoy the swimming experience
In the beginning the changing before and after will take longer than the time spent in the pool so try and make it all part of the fun. A change mat for comfort, some toys and lots of positive encouragement. It may be easier to have your own swimsuit on ready as that is one less thing to do
When you first get in the pool hold baby close and bounce gently up and down so that baby dips in and out of the water submerging their shoulders. When they are comfortable you can try holding them with extended arms or sprinkling water over baby's head. Hold eye contact as much as possible and lots of smiles and encouragement. Bringing some of their bath toys and singing nursery rhymes they have heard will help comfort baby. The more relaxed you can be the more relaxed baby will be. Like any other new experience baby will look to you for assurance
Keeping Warm & Keeping the Pool Clean
The right swimwear is important. Babies don’t regulate their body temperature and can get cold very quickly. A body warmer is a good idea and it is advisable to stick to around 10 minutes for the first few swims.
In order to make sure you are not the person who gets the pool closed down, having the right swim nappy which ‘contains’ any accidents is really important.
Baby will grab hold of your swimsuit or bikini straps so to avoid showing more than you intend to your fellow swimmers think about what swimwear you wear too
It's nice to have a shower with baby as part of the whole swimming experience and good for you both to clean the chlorinated water off skin and hair.
A poncho towel is really useful for getting baby dry and warm quickly and a towelling robe or big towel you can wrap around yourself will keep you warm as you get baby dressed.
Having toys, dummy, baby's comforter on hand will help keep baby occupied as you get dressed.
Have a bottle ready (or a snack if baby is weening) or schedule a feed for after as swimming will make baby hungry. And something for yourself too, pool environments are generally very warm and it's easy to get dehydrated without realising.
Then pat yourself on the back, you're amazing!