Summer's here so get ready to take the plunge! You might feel anxious or uncertain about taking your baby swimming for the first time but there are many great reasons why it's beneficial to introduce your wee one to water early.
- Safety - learning how to swim is a crucial skill and the younger your child is when he learns the better. It can be hard to always stay within arms reach when at the pool, on the dock or in a boat, so start teaching the foundations of swimming and water safety as soon as you feel your baby's ready.
- Comfort - the more exposure your baby has in the water the more comfortable he'll be as he grows. Some kids have a hard time starting swimming lessons when they're 3-4 years old if they haven't been in pools or open water such as lakes or the ocean much.
- Bonding - swimming with your baby is an excellent way to strengthen your bond. Hold him close, skin-on-skin, and keep him upright when introducing him to water. His trust in you will help transfer to an understanding that the water can be safe.
- Fun - swimming (in reality just splashing around at first) should be an entertaining and enjoyable experience. Smile and laugh with your baby, blow bubbles on the surface, and maybe even try dunking him quickly underwater if you feel he's ready. A trick to this is to blow in your baby's face right before submerging him for a second. This instinctively makes babies gulp air and hold their breath.
Keep the following in mind when preparing for baby's first swim:
- Ease baby into it. Starting with routine baths, establish a general trust of water before you take him swimming for the first time. During bath time, trickle small amounts of water over his head and face and encourage him to splash around. Even try getting in the bathtub too! Let your little one lie on your chest as you both relax in the warm water. Experiences like this will help your newborn to feel safe and comfortable around water.
- Ensure there are no health concerns. Before taking your baby into a pool or lake for the first time, it's always smart to consult your family doctor. Don't take him swimming until the belly button or circumcision has healed.
- Avoid strong chemicals. Try to avoid pools that are heavily chlorinated. Salt water or ozone-filtered pools are great alternatives if available.
- Follow your baby's cues. Not all babies will love swimming at first. If he starts to fuss, cry or shiver, take him out to get comfortable again. This experience needs to be fun, safe and a time to build trust with your wee one.
- Buy a swim diaper! A regular diaper just doesn't work (try it for a laugh), so purchase either reusable or disposable swim diapers for your baby to wear in the water to help contain any accidents. The are many brands out there to choose from, just ensure it has snug fitting legs and a waistband to contain any mess.
Baby's first swim is a milestone in the series of Wee Charm ribbons that parents can collect and attach to the Baby Charm Blanket. Record this special memory and cherish it forever.
To refresh your water safety knowledge this summer, check out your local police service website. Ottawa Police Service Water Safety