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Your baby’s first swim

Taking your baby swimming for the first time is an exciting event! As well as being fun and a good confidence-builder, all those new sights, sounds and sensations are great stimulation for their development.

You can take your baby swimming from around 6 weeks old. At that age they feel the cold very quickly though, so a specially-heated baby pool is the best option. After 6 months, most babies are able to enjoy bigger, cooler pools.

A great activity for your baby’s development

Swimming lets your baby use and move their body in a completely different way than on dry land! Their kicks, splashes and wriggles help to strengthen their little muscles while stimulating their heart and lungs. It also helps to improve co-ordination as they learn to kick and paddle, first separately and then at the same time.

Top tips for happy splashing:

• Choose a day when your baby is well rested and a time between meals when they’re neither hungry nor full.

• Let your baby get used to the feeling of water before going all the way in. If the pool has a very shallow area, you can start by sitting with your baby on your lap and letting them take it all in.

• Holding your baby close to you with a secure (but not too strong) grip will help them feel safe.

• Babies love to look at their favourite people! With your baby facing you in the water, you can maintain eye contact and reassure them with happy smiles and giggles.

• If your baby doesn’t love swimming from day 1, try again another time. Some babies need a few short visits before they really get into the swing of it.

• Take along a favourite toy to keep them busy in the changing room, as well as a snack, a drink and something cosy to snuggle up in afterwards. And of course, don’t forget the swimming nappy!

Staying safe in the water

By following some simple safety advice, swimming can be fun for everyone. Here are some pointers that the mums on our Careline always recommend:

• Always hold your baby securely in the water, even if they seem like they’re trying to swim.

• Always stay with them, even in the shallowest area or on the edge of the pool. Babies can drown in just a couple of inches of water.

• Hold your baby’s head up to avoid letting them swallow too much water – drinking too much chlorine isn’t good for them.

• If your baby has a fever, an illness or a tummy bug, postpone your swimming trip for another day. If they’ve been sick or had diarrhoea, wait at least 48 hours before going to the pool.

• 5 minutes is plenty of pool time for your first few visits, and babies under 1 year shouldn’t stay in the water for longer than half an hour. Their little bodies feel the cold very quickly so if you ever notice your baby shivering, take it as a sign to finish early and wrap them up in a big fluffy towel.

Keep that hungry tummy happy

Even a short dip can use a lot of energy so it’s a good idea to have some tasty snacks or finger foods ready for that post-swim appetite. Some satisfying ideas are:

• A banana or another favourite healthy snack
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