May 5, 2012
What I’ve learned about taking babies swimming is that essentially the time in the water is the easy bit! Getting ready beforehand and getting dry afterwards is trickier, particularly the first few times. I planned very badly the first time and it was a bit stressful!
When is it safe to go?
Advice on when it’s safe to take babies swimming can be found on the NHS Choices Website. I took J at about 5 weeks.
Leave yourself plenty of time to get to the pool. If baby’s first swim is a session with time restraints arrive early, leave more time to change than you think you’ll need and don’t make any plans for straight after your swim. It’s such an alien, therefore potentially scary experience for the babies. Any stress they pick up on from us, or being pulled in to or out of a wetsuit and swim nappy in a rush won’t make for an enjoyable first swim.
Ideally go with another adult the first time, preferably one of the same sex (unless there are family changing rooms). That way you can take turns holding the baby while you change, put stuff in a locker, go to the loo etc. Some pools will allow you to bring buggies/ car seats in which can help if you’re on your own, but not all.
Remove anything you won’t need from your swimming bag as you’ll have enough to carry and cram in to a locker with what you do need. Get rid of shampoo etc- if you’re on your own with a baby hair washing’s not going to happen!
Swim nappies are essential. Both disposable and re-useable ones are available from Boots.
I would definitely recommend a wetsuit/ baby wrap. We’ve got our baby wraps from Two Bare Feet so far. They have a reasonably priced selection and they normally arrive within a couple of days. After 6 months of peeling J in to and out of a wetsuit we’ve swapped to the more practical wraps- the name says it all. I’ve noticed these rub her under the arm a bit, but she seems too excited to notice.
There should be a safe, fairly comfortable baby change to strap your baby to while you change if you’re alone. In case it’s already taken I bring a spare used towel to lay on the floor under J’s thin portable changing mat (folded double) to make her more comfortable. There are so many things that could lead to a kick off that I think comfort where possible is good! It’s also worth having a decoy toy handy.
In the water
Aquababies advise you not to keep your baby in the water for longer than half an hour even with wetsuits. I’m sure this changes as they get older, but at 7 months I still stick to this with J.
I don’t claim to be an expert but I find talking to J the whole time in the water seems to keep her fairly calm.
Most of this is common sense, but in the early weeks you sometimes don’t have much of that. If anyone has any more tips please do add them as comments.