Dipping baby's toes in the water

The first time you take your baby swimming is a very special moment. However it is also something many parents have a lot of questions about, with parents keen to ensure it is a positive experience. Here Karina from Turtle Tots shares her thoughts on ensuring your first dip with your baby becomes another wonderful memory in your little one’s development.

When should you first take your baby swimming?

We’re often asked about what age is best for parents to take their newborns for their first swim. A baby can go swimming at any age and all you really need to consider is the temperature of the pool, to make sure they don’t get chilly. There is no need to wait until they are immunised before going into the pool.

What do you need?

In addition to your usual items in your changing bag, I’d recommend taking the following:

● Nappies: in Turtle Tots classes we operate the double nappy system and would suggest this for all trips to the pool. This is either a reusable swim nappy or a disposable swim nappy, with a NeoNappy over the top.

● Wetsuit: we would recommend a wetsuit for tiny babies, especially in pools that are lower than 32 degrees. After six months they are able to go in cooler pools without wetsuits, but we always recommend watching your baby for signs that they may be becoming cold.

● Towels: I’d recommend taking two just in case there are any accidents when their nappy comes off!

● Milk: whether breastfed or bottle fed, your baby will be hungry when they get out of the pool.

● Toys: something to distract them with when you are getting them dressed.

● Camera: definitely a memory worth capturing. Although most public pools do not allow cameras, so it’s best to check before you go.

Where should you go swimming?

Ideally you want to take your baby to a quiet pool which is 30+ degrees. Try to go when it will be quiet, initially avoiding a weekend if you can.

What should you do in the pool?

Your first dip should be about creating a wonderful safe environment for your baby. Think about what they enjoy in the bath, perhaps taking their favourite bath toy with you. Keep their shoulders under water most of the time to keep them warm. Splash a little water on their head and face, they should be used to this from the bath so most babies enjoy it. Most importantly, hold them close to you and give them lots of smiles and encouragement.

How long should we be in the pool?

Your first swim should only last about 10-20 minutes, and take them out sooner if they seem cold or are upset. You can build this up over time to up to 30 minutes.

Will my baby enjoy it?

We, as parents, often build it up into a big deal, possibly expecting tears. In actual fact, newborns are most at home in water, they’ve been living in fluid for nine months and if they enjoy their bath, it’s a good indication they will enjoy being in the pool. This is one of the reasons taking them swimming when they are tiny is a good idea, while they still have positive memories of their time in the womb.

Building water confidence from a young age is a hugely important life skill, sometimes it can take some trial and error but when you get those smiles and giggles in the water, you’ll see why it is worth doing.

Karina Reinhardt

Turtle Tots Edinburgh