We first took Athena swimming when she was 9 weeks old, and have gone every couple of weeks since. We’ve not done any classes, we just go together, or as a family if Sam’s work schedule allows it! I thought I’d put together some tips that have helped us. We’re so lucky to have Splashpoint in Worthing, a new pool which is perfect for a little persons first experience of swimming!
Before and After:
- Go at a quiet time of day. Call up your pool and ask when these are, generally during school hours will be quieter but there are often school lessons happening. There will be less noise and less people so you and your baby will be calmer.
- Check what temperature the pool is at, ideally over 28 degrees would be the most comfortable for tiny babies. You also don’t need to wait until your child has had their jabs.
- For the first few times keep the time in the water to a minimum, we started off with ten minutes a time but now stay in for 45 minutes or so. If we’ve gone as a family we take it in turns to get a few lengths in in the big pool each too!
- Watch out for shivering or lips going blue and get out if these things happen!
- Make sure your baby is not hungry when you get in, and be warned that they will be hungry when they get out! I breastfed as soon as we’d wrapped her in a towel at the side of the pool the first few times we went.
- Nappies: Use a swim nappy underneath your babies costume/shorts and get something with elasticated legs so that if anything does happen, it stays contained!
- Gently tip your babies head from side to side to get any water out of their ears, and make sure you give them a rinse in the showers to get any chlorine off their skin which could irritate it. The first few times we went we actually washed her in the sink as the showers were too hot!
- Your baby will probably be extra sleepy after swimming, so grab a good book and a cup of tea and enjoy it!
- Sit with your baby on the side of the pool for a few minutes to help them take in the surroundings and get used to the noise levels
- Keep eye contact with your baby at all times when you first enter the pool, and smile at them to let them know this will be a fun experience. If you are uncertain in the water then make sure you bring someone else with you and only stay in the shallow end where you feel safe.
- Once they’ve got used to the feeling of being in the water you can gently swish your baby from side to side, bob them up and down and splash water around/on them
- If your pool has slides and water jets then play with these too, but make sure you are always touching your baby and supporting them so they feel secure.
- If you can swim then rest your baby on your chest and swim backwards, making sure you keep hold of baby with one arm!
- If you want to ‘dunk’ your baby to help them get used to being under water then a tip is to blow gently in their face to make them take a breath just before you pop them under, and only keep them under for a second! Athena kept her eyes open the first few times we did this but she closes them now!
Lauren blogs at Belle du Brighton about pretty much anything, and can be found on twitter too.