Taking baby swimming for the first time - Evita Krumina
Firstly, as a new parent, you might wonder what is the right age to take your baby swimming. I was one of those parents so I did tons of research to make sure I was doing it right. Opinions differed so much from one source to another, which is when I realised that this is one of those things that should be up to the parents themselves.
I have never been a great swimmer, I am not particularly keen on water and water activities so it was incredibly important for me that Theo had swimming lessons from a very young age and was used to water. Therefore, I wanted him to start as soon as possible. I researched different swimming lesson providers locally to make sure we found a place that we were happy with. We went for a trial session when Theo was 12 weeks old at a purpose built swimming pool. I loved the facilities there, each changing room had a changing table, it was really warm at the poolside and also in the pool, which was incredibly important for me, especially as Theo was still quite little.
Theo loves the swimming lesson; I was actually surprised at how relaxed he was and how much he enjoyed being in the water and even being under the water. That’s when I realised that I definitely wanted to carry on with swimming lessons and signed up for a term. Theo has now swum there for 3 terms and we are really enjoying it.
You might wonder what babies that little would do at a swimming lesson, I wondered as well. They are too little to follow directions and swim on their own. That is why baby swimming lessons are taught with the parents in the water with the babies. The lessons are usually 30 minutes long and parents are encouraged to sing nursery rhymes throughout the session to support the different moves and actions. I think that baby swimming sessions are really bonding for the parent and baby, that is why I wanted Theo’s dad to go swimming with him. I wanted it to be their activity as the both of us do so much during the week. It has proven to really strengthen their bond and is also just a fun thing to do.
Thankfully the both of us can go to swimming lessons together so I change Theo whilst his daddy gets changed himself, then I watch my boys swim and then help shower Theo and get him changed again, whilst his daddy gets ready in a separate changing room. This is the ideal scenario and is so much easier to do than going on your own, which I have done on a few occasions, which is why I thought I would put some tips together for you to make the experience a little bit smoother.
What is needed for the baby?
- Disposable swim nappy, we use Huggies Little Swimmers nappies. I would really advise bringing at least 2 with you, just in case.
- Neoprene Swim Nappy, we use Happy Nappy. I didn’t actually know that this was required. This nappy is worn over the disposable nappy just in case there was a nappy leak. You can get these easily online and very often get very good deals on them. These are not disposable and can be worn over and over again, which is amazing.
- Towel - we always have two – one to wrap him in (he will then lie on it, when on the changing table) and one to use to dry him off.
- Shower gel and a shampoo to wash the baby off after the lesson. You can always use a sponge or a washcloth if you find it easier. I would also always pack a baby lotion just to keep my little Theo’s skin moisturised.
- We always have spare pair of clothing for Theo as well, just in case. It’s especially the case when we go swimming as it’s so easy to get the clothing wet in the changing rooms. Try and bring clothes that are easy to put on and take off. It’s incredibly warm in the changing rooms so it can be quite tricky to get babies dressed. Also show me a baby who likes being dressed at the best of the times!
- Bring a hat with you to keep your baby warm and cosy after the session.
- I would also suggest bringing a couple of toys to keep your little one entertained whilst you are getting him/her dressed and also whilst you get yourself dressed.
- It would be a good idea to try and feed your little one straight after swimming as they will most likely be tired and hungry (especially when they are very little).
What is needed for the parent?
- Swimsuit/swimming trunks
- Flip flops/sliders – you will most likely not be able to take your shoes in to the changing rooms. Many places implement this to keep the areas clean. I am one of those people, who is not keen on going bare footed around the changing rooms and the poolside (everyone is different though).
- Hair bobble for the ladies – you might want to put your hair up and keep it as dry as possible.
- Sometimes I put my swimsuit on at home to save time and to make sure I spend less time on myself and more time on Theo. If you think you would do the same, then remember to pack underwear and socks/tights. There is nothing worse than realising that you have forgotten it at home.
- A bottle of water – I always find myself parched after I have been in the pool.
- Shower gel/shampoo/deodorant/moisturiser for yourself.
- Again, I would really like to encourage you to wear clothing that you can take off and then put on easily. I find that when I take Theo swimming on my own, I am slightly more tens as Theo will easily get impatient. Add the warm temperature to this scenario and you will find that it is quite difficult to put the clothing on.
- Try and be as relaxed as possible, and try and enjoy the experience.
- Arrive in plenty of time to make sure you are not rushing. I find that I can’t be there too early also as Theo will only get bored and impatient so I always need to arrive ‘just at the right time’ for him.
- I always try and make sure that Theo has had a nap beforehand. It is not always possible as babies go through stages where they like to refuse naps. At the same time I will do everything and anything to make sure that he has at least had a 20 minute nap, otherwise I find that he is just a bit too tired and won’t enjoy swimming as much.
- I try and avoid feeding Theo just before swimming, but at the same time also make sure that he is not hungry as it will again make him more emotional and he won’t enjoy the lesson as much.
- I find that lots of planning needs to be in place to make sure all of us enjoy this experience, but it’s definitely worth it.
- To save time, I always put my swimsuit on at home, then I will get Theo dressed when we get there and all I need to do to get ready is to take my clothes off. It’s easy and stress free!
- After the session I will bring Theo with me in to the shower and try our best to wash us both. Many places will provide bath seats for you to place your baby in to make it easier for you to wash him/her. I always used to keep a towel near by when Theo was younger, whilst now I lay it out on the changing table ready for when I have showered him. I will always get Theo dressed and sorted first and will then give him one of his toys to play with whilst I quickly put my clothes on.
- Remember that you can always ask for help, people will be happy to help as we are all in the same boat.
- The best bit of advice – just go with it. Things will go wrong sometimes and that’s ok. Parenthood is full of surprises and you can’t possibly prepare yourself for everything. Also remember that all babies are different and will respond to events and things differently.
Disclaimer – The above information is based on my own experience and I am not an expert by any means. I am just sharing my own story hoping
that it will help someone else.