Tips for swimming with your baby

Taking your baby swimming can be great fun for you and your little one, but for a lot of new mums it can be daunting.  There’s a lot to think about and plan before you get anywhere near the water. From what you need to bring with you, to keeping your little one safe in the water and the logistics of getting changed.  We’ve put together some great tips and advice from mums and swimming teachers to make sure your trip to the pool goes as smoothly as possible – for both of you!

When can I bring baby swimming?

If you’ve had a c-section, perineal tear or difficult birth, your health visitor or GP may recommend that you wait until after your postnatal check before going swimming yourself, but you could encourage your partner to take your baby.

There’s no need to wait until your baby is immunised before taking him to a pool. The NHS recommends “You can take your baby swimming at any age, both before and after they have been vaccinated. It doesn’t matter if they haven’t yet completed their course of vaccinations. Babies sometimes experience side effects after a vaccination. These are generally quite mild and shouldn’t stop you taking your baby swimming. However, babies who are feverish or irritable in the days or weeks after a vaccination may not feel up to swimming for a few days, so you may prefer to wait.”

Make sure the pool is warm enough. Babies under three months need a temperature of about 32 degrees C, if they’re not in a baby wet-suit. This is the temperature we heat our learner pool to.  We display current pool temperatures above the door in reception, or you can ask the lifeguards to check the temperature for you.

Before you take your baby swimming for the first time

Start by getting your baby used to the water during bath time. Having fun with toys, gently splashing water over their body and lying on their back, moving them slowly through the water, will all help your baby feel more comfortable and happy.

Visit the pool on your own before bringing your baby.  Familiarise yourself with the layout, where the baby changing facilities, toilets, showers and learner pools are.  This will take the pressure of your first visit with baby!

We have a number of private baby changing cubicles with changing tables, we also have play pens to help you get changed.  The showers closest to the learner pool entrance are the best ones to use if you have a little one with you as we have a baby seat fitted opposite the showers.  This will help you shower yourself whilst knowing baby is safe.

The most important thing to bring with you are swim nappies, accidents can happen!  It’s important to maintain water quality for you and your little one.  There are two different types of swim nappy, disposable and reusable.  It’s important that your baby wears both while swimming.  You need to have a reusable snug-fitting waterproof outer swim nappy which you put over the top of the disposable swim nappies.  We sell Huggies Little Swimmers disposable nappies for £1.60 each at reception.  It’s important to use special swim nappies as they are designed not to expand in the pool.   They come in 3 sizes, Size 2-3 (3-8kg/7-18lbs), Size 3-4 (7-15kg/15-34lbs) or Size 5-6 (12-18kg/26-40lbs).

Make sure you have everything you need.  Along with swim nappies, your own swimming costume and towel you will need to pack:

  • Regular nappies for before/after swimming.
  • A soft towel to wrap baby up when you leave the water.
  • A warm bottle (if your bottle-feeding) or snack if your baby has started solids. Swimming makes babies hungry.  We do have a snacks vending machine, but the contents may not be suitable for your little one.
  • A changing mat and nappy bag.
  • Warm clothes, to help keep your baby snug and warm after swimming.  A hat is also a good idea as babies lose heat through their heads.
  • Coin for lockers.  Our lockers accept old and new £1 coins as well as trolley tokens.
  • Favourite bath toy.  toys that help baby relax at bath time will offer reassurance in the pool.  We also have toys available for use in the learner pool, help yourself.

If your baby has a bad cold, a temperature or seems unwell, don’t go swimming. Also, your baby shouldn’t swim with a tummy bug and shouldn’t go swimming until he has been clear of symptoms for at least 48 hours.

If your baby has a skin complaint, check with your GP to make sure that the chlorine won’t irritate them.  Always rinse the chlorinated water off your baby after swimming and apply a moisturiser all over their skin, especially if they have dry skin or eczema.

Time it right

With a young baby, timing your trip to the pool can be a huge help.

Try not to schedule swimming for times when your baby usually has a nap or a feed. Being grumpy, hungry or tired won’t help either of you to enjoy the experience! Pick a time when your baby is usually alert and has already had a feed.

On your first swimming trip, pick a time when the centre is not as busy (usually mornings for our pools but you can always ring ahead to check).

Your first swimming trip

Get ready before you go out.  Save time and hassle by putting your own swimming costume on at home under your clothes.  Just don’t forget to pack underwear in your swim bag for later!

Ask a friend to come with you, if you feel relaxed and confident, your baby will too.   Come during our AquaTots timetabled sessions, these sessions are cheaper at £2.50 versions the normal £3.80 charge for Parent & Toddler.

Operation: changing rooms!

Get ready before you go out.  Save time and hassle by putting your own swimming costume on at home under your clothes.  Just don’t forget to pack underwear in your swim bag for later!

Get yourself undressed first, and out your belongings in a lower with towels easily accessible.   Then you can focus on getting baby undressed and ready in their swim nappies, remember to double up on reusable and disposable.

Have a towel handy when you leave the water. Babies lose heat quickly, so wrap baby up warm in a towel as soon as they are out of the water.  Hooded towels are great at keeping baby cosy post swim.

Post swim, get dressed first.  You can remove babies wet clothes and wrap in a second dry towel and pop them somewhere safe, either their car seat or one of our play pens depending on age, while you get yourself dry and dressed.   Once dressed, you can get baby into a fresh nappy and dressed in warm snuggly clothes.

Keep it short

Start off with sessions of 10 minutes and build up to 20 minutes. If your baby is under a year old, limit your time in the water to 30 minutes maximum.

As soon as your baby starts to shiver, get them out of the pool and wrap them up warmly. Babies lose heat more quickly than adults, so they shouldn’t stay in the pool for too long.

Make swimming fun for your baby & boost confidence in the water.

Keep your baby facing you, hold your baby close and keep eye contact with them for the first few times.  Keeping eye contact with baby will reassure baby that everything is OK.   When you feel more confident, try extending your arms and swishing your baby around.

Talk to them and praise your baby all the time, this helps boost babies confidence in the water.

Encourage baby to experience buoyancy.  Stand behind your baby with their head resting on your chest.  Put your hands under their back so the rest of the body is floating.  Your baby will soon start to move their arms and legs about and enjoy the feeling in the water.  Let your baby float on their back at first so they can see you.  Once you and baby are more confident you can try floating on their front.  Place your hand under their tummy and the other under their chin to support baby and stop their face going in the water.

Get your baby’s face wet.  This helps your little one get used to the feeling of water on their face.  You could try this in the bath before coming swimming.   Trickle water over their head and face.

Let your baby splash and play with toys. If you don’t keep your baby moving in the water they will get cold. Swoosh baby in the water and bounce them up and down. You can also play games with toys,   throw one a few feet across the pool and move them through the water to retrieve the toy.  Blow a toy across the water and get your baby to blow it back or at least copy you blowing.

Sing nursey rhymes. When your baby can sit up, put them on the side of the pool and sing “Humpty Dumpty”. When you get to the line “Humpty Dumpty had a great fall” lift them down into the water with a splash.


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