They’re small, slippery, and frankly, it’s messy enough swimming on your own. But don’t despair. Here’s how to ace your first swimming trip with a baby…
Swim nappies are a must
No baby is going to enjoy the experience if they’re waterlogged in their standard nappy. Most pools wouldn’t allow them in wearing those anyway.
Instead, buy specific swim nappies – available in most big supermarkets or chemists – and a suitable swimsuit, trunks or wetsuit. Then you’re good to go.
Make sure you have everything you need before you leave the house. For example, towels and nappies (swim and regular). Some parents also get their own swimming costume on under their clothes too. But note: do not forget to take your own underwear. Many a parent has been there, doing the dash home without the underwear.
Get yourself changed first
It can seem like the right thing to do is to put your baby into their nappy while you’re dripping chlorinated water all over them and shivering in your swimsuit. Otherwise, you must be a truly selfish parent, surely. Incorrect.
Take it from us: it is in no way selfish. It’s sensible to wrap them in a big, warm towel while you get yourself sorted first. You can sort them out when you’re dry and dressed.
Think about a proper baby class
There are many organisations that run classes just for babies. They can be a bit pricey but they’re held in warm pools. See what's running in your local area or ask other parents for recommendations.
These classes will help to guide your baby at the right pace in the water. They also do other handy stuff like having changing mats on the side of the pool for if your baby has a mid-swim accident.
Find out about toddler sessions at your local swimming pool
If you don’t go to an organised class, most swimming pools run toddler and child sessions. They make taking your child in the pool a bit easier and a lot more fun than a standard swim with those nonstop length swimmers.
Take a dressing gown or poncho towel for your older baby
If you’re taking your newborn baby swimming, a large towel with a hood to swaddle them in will do fine. But if you’re taking an older baby who will shrug or wriggle a towel off, go for a dressing gown or a poncho towel. You can slip poncho towels over their heads to keep them on.
Keep the dressing gown or poncho at the poolside. That means you can peel off their top layer as soon as you get out of the water. They’ll be happy and warm in their poncho or gown with their swim nappy underneath for five minutes until you’re sorted.
Try to time it well
It’s often easier said than done with small babies but it’s best to take your baby swimming when they’re fed, rested and not unwell. They’ll have a better experience of swimming this way and be much more likely to love it.
Take their favourite bath toy
Babies will take to the pool a lot more quickly if there’s something familiar there. So think about taking their favourite bath duck, watering can or cup with you.
Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.
You might find attending one of our Early Days groups helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.
Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.
To find out more about swimming with your baby, visit Swimming.org.