Going to the pool with your baby is an amazing gift to give your little one. But going can easily become a stressful experience if you’ve never been to the pool with your baby before. But no worries. I’ve gathered 10 tips that will make your first swimming adventures a success for both you and your baby.
I like going to the swimming pool, both with and without my little ones, but just when I had Eva I found myself almost a bit scared of going. I was not sure how she was going to react and in my mind I painted a picture of her lying in her wet swimming diaper on the floor screaming while I desperatly tried to get my bathing suit on, so we could make it into the pool. Not a very good mental image btw.
But fortunally that was not how it turned out. Not at all actually, though Eva did cry once or twice during the 6 month we went when she was a baby – and I did find myself being late for a swimming class and not being overly relaxed about it. But that was pretty much the worst that happened (!) and I think a lot of it had to the do with the fact, that I had prepared myself for it (and I’m not refering to my mental image here. That was not helpful at all).
At first I spend some time figuring out why baby swimming in itself is so popular and it turns out that there are so many benefits to gain from going to the pool with your baby, that we just had to go! And after a few times to the pool I really got the hang of it – so much that I actually really started to look forward to our weekly trip together. Being in the pool together is such an amazing bonding experience and I can only recommend it.
I will admit that the first time was a bit chaotic and I was really nervous which definitely had an effect on Eva. She was all fuzzy and tensed up, but after that I was really good. So don’t give up if you’ve already been and you found it stressful and frustrating to spend more time in the changing room than in the water – it’s so worth it and it will be better.
I’ve gathered the top 10 advice that I think made baby swimming a big success with me and Eva. And if you still feel a bit overwhelmed afterwards or uncertain on what to bring or in what order to get ready in, I’ve also got you covered in my step-by-step guide to going to the swimming pool with your baby.
10 tips that will make going to the pool with a baby a success
Don’t stress. I know, I know, I bet you’ve heard this before and you might even have rolled your eyes once or twice at it, because not stressing and having to be somewhere on time with a baby, is not exactly compatible. And yet, it’s so important not to get those cortisol levels up. If you’re late for a class it’s okay. It’s much better to be late and have a short, but good experience in the water, than be on time and have a bad one because you rushed it.
The same goes even if you don’t have a class. It’s easy to find yourself getting stressed out because your little one is getting increasingly fussy and might not like getting his swimming diaper on or he’s getting impatient while you’re getting dressed. Instead relax. Breath in and remind yourself that if you’re getting stressed out, your little guy or gal will probably sense it and get even more fussy. I’d usually always bring a toy for Eva to distract her or simply just talk and make everything into a silly face/sound/movement game for her. It worked like a charm – and I’m sure other people found it entertaining as well.
Check out the facilities before you go. This doesn’t just mean the changing room, but also where to park your pram or car (or if it might be a better idea to use a baby carrier/sling as transportation), if there’s a microwave for heating formula, a seperate family changing room or some unique rules or circumstances for your swimming pool. Also make sure the pool is for babies meaning that the temperature is around 34 degrees Celsius (about 92 Fahrenheit) and that there’s no deep end. Also avoid pools that are full of pool chemicals – chlorine and baby skin are not good friends and public pools can have quite a lot in them.
Also check out how to keep your baby put while you change. You might not think of this before you go the first time, but while you change, your baby needs to be somewhere. Some places have a stroller, others a playpen, but some places have nothing. In that case your might be able to bring your carseat instead.
- Let your baby get use to being in water. Before you even start going to the pool, introduce your baby to being in the water and getting all wet by bringing her into the shower and/or bathtub with you. Fill a cup with water and gently pour it over her hair and let a bit it find it’s way down her face. I would bring Eva with me in the shower and let her cuddle up against my chest, so she felt secure. If you want your youngster to be a little more prepared for diving, I was told to count down “3-2-1-dive” and gently blow on her face to get her to keep her breath and then pour water over her face.
A full belly is better than an empty. Make sure that your baby is not hungry when going into the water. Hungry means cranky – and no one likes a cranky baby in the water. I will make sure Anton gets something to eat about 45 minutes or so before we get in the water That way it’s not too close to the whole splashing ordeal or so far away from it that he’ll get hungry just as we enter the water. If your little one has a tendency to regurgitate you might also want to avoid feeding him too close to going in the water. I never had a problem like this with Eva and I did nurse her a few times just before we went into the pool (and one time while in the pool), but you know your baby best. When you’re all done in the pool, you your youngster will most likely be quite hungry shortly after, so be prepared to feed him straight after.
Nursing is also suppose to be great if you’re little one swallows some of the water from the pool to help avoid diarrhea.
When going in the water, hold your baby face out. And then turn her around so she’s facing you when you enter the water. I got this advice from several swimming instructors I ad. By doing it this way your baby can see what is going on, which will help her prepare herself for the experience. On a further note, if it’s the first time in the water have your wee one face you afterwards to make her feel secure.
Enjoy it. This is right up in the alley with tip no. 1, but I still feel it needs it’s own dot. Don’t tense up or worry when you’re in the water. Babies will check to see how you react to know how to react themselves, so remember to smile and try and relax (even though it might be difficult the first time your baby dives). I guess it’s easier to relax the older the child, but nonetheless it’s important. And also remember if you’re in a class or talking to other parents, that going to the pool is not a competition on whose baby can do the biggest splashes or can dive the longest. Just your time, be in the moment and enjoy your baby experiencing the water.
- Follow your baby’s lead. Some babies love being in the water no matter what and others, well, they are a bit more hesitant. It’s important not to try and push your baby above her boundaries and force her to do something she is not ready for like diving. Fussing and crying are the obvious signs that enough is enough, but sometimes getting quiet and stiff are too. You know your baby best.
Look up the swimming table. If you’re not taking a class this is especially important. All things could be happening at the pool on the day and time you decide to go there like a visiting school or a baby swimming class that takes up the whole baby pool.
Avoid floaties. Don’t use any kind of wings or other floating devices with your baby. Floaties give a false sense of safety and your little one doesn’t actually learn anything about moving in the water, so it instead grab a secure hold of your baby and have fun. Despite the name swimming it’s a horrible idea to actually let go of your child, so don’t. By holding your baby you can also help her feel secure and getting skin to skin contact is always a great plus!
Don’t go if your baby is sick or not feeling up to it. I might be stating the obvious, but sometimes when you’ve paid for a classs or you planned your day around going, it can be tempting to ignore your baby’s signs. But don’t. I did it once and it was not a pleasent experience for either of us and I ended up leaving before we even got in the water. She was just not up for it and I had felt like we nedded to go as she had been sick the week before. But that’s just life with a baby, so learn from my experience and stay home and cuddle instead of going if your little one is feeling under the weather.
Hopefully with these 10 advices you feel a bit more prepared and ready to take on the swimming pool with your baby. All in all, going to the pool is not that difficult – it’s just about preparing yourself, relaxing and going with the flow. That and of course having a cooperative baby, but everyone’s got one of those, right?
Eva is now 2,5 years old and loves being in the water and bringing her is almost a breeze these days. We still don’t go as often as I would like to but that has mainly got to do with her becoming a big sis and us just having moved to a new city. The energy to bring both her and my wonderful, but oh so squirmy bundle of baby rolls is simply just not always there. But after having made this post, I’ve put it right on top of our ”fun activities” to do list.