The idea of taking a baby swimming may sound frightening at first. With a bit of preparation and a first-time spirit of adventure, however, it can prove to be fun for both the parent and the baby. Essentially, a parent who wants to take his baby swimming typically prepares by putting a swim diaper on the baby and applying waterproof sunscreen if going to an outdoor pool. After ensuring that the water is warm enough for his baby, he may then carefully make his way into the pool, holding onto his baby at all times. Additionally, packing a bag of snacks and food, extra towels, diapers, and clothes may help to make swim time more fun.
Before taking a baby swimming, it's a good idea to seek advice from a pediatrician. Some may recommend waiting until the baby has had at least one round of immunizations before taking him to a public pool. This is due to the risk of contracting contagious diseases when a baby is very young and more vulnerable to infections. Others may suggest waiting for only six weeks, thinking that a baby who has at least reached this age will be better able to cope with the strange noises in a swimming pool setting.
If a baby's doctor gives the green light for pool time, parents are typically advised to check the temperature of the water before taking their babies swimming. Babies are unable to regulate their own body temperatures until they are between the ages of six and 12 months old. As such, very cold water may feel extra cold to a baby. Doctors often recommend making sure the water temperature is at least 84 degrees Fahrenheit (about 29 degrees Celsius) and removing the baby from the water if he starts shivering. Water that is higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (about 38 degrees Celsius) is usually considered off limits for infants.
The steps a person takes to prepare for swimming with a baby can go a long way toward making time in the pool pleasurable. This typically means dressing the baby in a swim diaper for hygiene's sake and packing extra swim diapers, regular diapers, extra clothes, towels, and a blanket or two in case the baby wants to rest. Parents may also do well to pack waterproof sunscreen, snacks, food, and bottles if the baby is bottle fed.
Taking a baby swimming is often more like going wading. The adult who is in charge of keeping the baby safe in the pool probably won’t do a whole lot of swimming. He may enjoy floating or even doing a little surface swimming alongside his baby if the infant is in a flotation device. For safety's sake, however, he'll usually leave the underwater swimming for times when he does not have his baby in the pool. If another adult has gone along for the trip, the two adults may take turns caring for the baby, so that each person gets some time for carefree swimming.
Since drowning is a serious risk when infants are in the pool, parents are typically advised to stay within an arm's length of a baby who is in a flotation device. Otherwise, they are advised to hold onto their babies at all times. Additionally, keeping eye contact with a baby may help him to feel more comfortable as he gets acclimated to the water.