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The joys of swimming with your baby

Today we've got a guest blog from Tamsin Brewis. Tamsin is a Water Babies baby swimming teacher - did you know that more than 28,000 babies swim with Water Babies every week across the UK? Tamsin is a keen swimmer herself and has been involved in baby swimming ever since she took her daughter to her first baby swimming lesson, more than 16 years ago. She's writing for us today, to answer one of the most commonly asked questions about baby swimming - "How can I help my baby love the water?"

The simple answer is that babies love being in water – having spent the first nine months of their lives suspended in fluid in the womb, they generally love the liberating sensation of floating freely, as it’s such a familiar environment. Here are some top tips to prepare your baby for the world of water.

First step – the bath!

Having fun in water starts with bath time. First and foremost – keep it fun!  Sharing a bath with your baby is a great bonding experience and something everyone can do. Lie back with them on your chest whilst their body is also submersed in water. Constantly smile, sing and talk to them whilst maintaining lots of reassuring eye contact.

To further enhance bonding, feeding your baby in the bath will reinforce a safe and nurturing association with the water. Whilst in the bath, watch their body language, tune into their responses and relax with your baby.  This will all help you to understanding your baby’s needs.

If you make the time to share a regular bath with your baby it is very easy to progress onto showering with them. You will both feel much more relaxed when the time comes for the next step – venturing to ….

… the swimming pool!

For your first visit, if possible, spend time on the side getting them used to the noises, colours, splashing and general hubbub of the pool environment – you are bombarding their senses from all sides so please do not be surprised if they are a little uncertain at first.

Here is a handy checklist for you:

  • Find out the pool temperature; it should be at least 32 degrees for babies under three months old or less than 12lbs in weight, 30 degrees if they’re older or heavier – you will know if your baby is cold as their finger nails and lips go blue quickly.  Warm them using your body temperature.
  • Find out the pool’s policy on swim nappies – your baby will be asked to wear a paper or reusable swim nappy, and in many cases, an over nappy. This is known as the double nappy system. Normal nappies are not acceptable in a pool and will just inflate!  You may like to consider a wetsuit for your baby and you will need your own swimming costume too!
  • Take a towel for baby and you
  • Take a changing mat; it is much safer to change a small baby on the floor rather than a bench – you will be surprised how early a baby can roll.  Not every swimming pool has baby changers.
  • When in the pool, get low in the water, move your baby around, sing to them, talk to them and bond with them.  Swishing them from side to side and around in circles,, resting them against you whilst you swim, gently pouring water over their faces will all help the bonding experience
  • Have fun and be positive; your child will take their cues from you.
  • Your first session should last 20-30 minutes; your baby will let you know when they have had enough.
  • After swimming and when you are both dressed, get into the habit of giving baby a drink as swimming is dehydrating. And have one yourself as well, it's important to keep yourself hydrated.
  • Don't be worried if your baby has a long sleep after swimming. Babies get hungry and tired after swimming so they may eat and sleep more.
  • Babies lose heat through their heads very quickly so take a hat with you.
  • Bathe your baby that evening to ensure all chlorine has been removed.
And finally swim regularly - it is an excellent family activity and the start of a healthy life style together. 


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