When can I introduce my baby to swimming?
Is it ever too early to take your baby swimming? Here's what you need to know
When can I take my baby swimming?
Babies can be taken swimming immediately after giving birth! The NHS advises that babies can be taken swimming at any age, and there’s no need to wait until your newborn has had their first immunisations. Although your baby is safe to swim, to avoid infection, mum should wait until around 6 weeks or 7 days after vaginal bleeding after birth stops. If you do want to take your baby swimming beforehand, it’s the perfect opportunity for dad or other family members to bond with your little one.
It’s a common myth that babies can’t swim as soon as they’re born. While not able to immediately start paddling across the Channel, babies are born with a remarkable ability to control their breathing in water and have a reflex reaction that moves their arms and legs in a swimming motion, called the Bradycardic response. This natural ability commonly disappears after about 6 months.
While your baby has these abilities, always remember that it will be a little while before they will be able to properly support their head to breathe out of the water and hold their breath intentionally. This is why at most newborn swimming classes babies are taught ways of controlling their breathing before they go underwater.
Why should I take my baby swimming?
Babies love water! Getting in the pool with your little one is great for both you and your baby. Being in warm water is nothing new for your baby as whilst developing in your womb your baby was surrounded, protected and even nourished by the amniotic fluid you produce, so getting into a pool isn’t a completely unfamiliar experience for your newborn.
Being exposed to the sound, colours, feel and temperature of the pool will also ignite your baby's senses, and their reactions to being in water is something all parents should try to experience. Swimming, splashing and paddling with your baby should be really fun, and a great bonding experience.
Getting in the pool early with your baby also helps build both your confidence and your baby's confidence being around water, getting used to swimming early can also help prevent your baby fearing the water as he grows.
Tips and Precautions:
Before you paddle out into the water there are a few practical tips and precautions you should be aware of for both you and baby’s comfort and safety:
Babies prefer warmer water, so you should find for a pool heated to from 30°C to 32°C until your baby gets a little older
Make sure you dress your baby up in a swim nappy to keep any accidents sealed in! Neoprene baby swimwear is also useful to keep everything in place.
Before you go, check what changing facilities your pool has - a change table is best.
Don’t forget towels for both you and your little one; coming out of the warm pool into a fluffy towel will keep you warm and comfy.