Want to swim with your little one but not sure where to start? Summer’s the perfect time to nurture your water baby or toddler
From paddling pools to the open sea, summer is synonymous with water. And whether you’re planning your first dip with your baby or a big splash with your toddler, there are plenty of reasons to make swimming a big part of your holiday time, at home or abroad. During a child’s first three years, 75 per cent of brain growth occurs, so it makes sense to provide as much stimulation as soon as possible. Swimming’s a great way to do that. Not only is it a very sociable activity, it also helps balance by using part of the inner ear.
Your baby’s just spent nine months in the amniotic fluid, so water’s like a second home to her. Water supports the limbs and muscles, letting even the tiniest babies move freely and safely. Irene Joyce, Swimming Technical Expert with the Swimming Teachers’ Association (STA), says, “If babies are introduced to water outside the womb in a safe, secure, happy and stimulating environment they’ll swim contentedly. It’s natural for them and a nurturing of primitive reflexes into automatic movement.”
As soon as she’s had her first immunisations, you can start taking her to the pool. Jess Thompson, co-founder of swimming school Water Babies (www.waterbabies.co.uk), says, “It’s an activity you can do from birth, helping you cope with those difficult first weeks, and the skin-on-skin contact helps you both bond.”
If she’s under 12 weeks old, check that the pool is heated to 32ºC. Any older, and 30ºC should be fine.
Jess Thompson says, “Remember that the environment will be new to your baby, so spend some time sitting on the side of the pool with your baby in your lap, so she can get used to the sounds and atmosphere. Stay relaxed and maintain eye contact with her. She’ll take all her cues from you. Swirl your baby around in the water and even trickle some water gently over her face and head if she’s happy.
I never worry about my children getting water in their ears. Unless your child has ear problems, it shouldn't be a problem.
If the pool is not a private pool. then I'd use swimming nappies. At 9 months old, he will normally be predictable when he poos, so a swimming nappy would give you extra confidence.
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