Splashing and giggling—the sounds of summer fun. You know how good being outdoors can be for your child. So how soon can your baby join in? And how can you make sure she is safe? Here are some tips from the folks at Choices Pregnancy Center.
Start When Baby’s Ready
You know your baby best. Consider these guidelines for determining when she is ready to be introduced to “swimming.”
Babies chill easily. Pay attention to what your child can handle. If you see her shivering or her lips are starting to turn blue, it’s time to get out of the pool, dry off, and give her some warm breastmilk or a bottle.
Ease her introduction to swim time.
- Go to the pool or lake during a quiet, less busy time.
- Bring along a favorite waterproof toy.
- Use “touch supervision” in the water. The American Association of Pediatrics uses this term to mean that “for infants and toddlers, an adult should be in the water and within arm’s reach.” Of course, a baby will need you to support her completely.
- Maintain eye contact with her during your “swim” together. Seeing your eyes close to hers helps her feel safe.
- Limit her first time in the water to 10 – 15 minutes. After several more visits, you may build up to 20 – 25 minutes.
Know how she is affected by pool chemicals and germs. Chlorine can be hard on Baby’s lungs and skin, so keep exposure to a minimum. And in spite of those strong chemicals, infections are sometimes spread at pools, just as they are at lakes. Diarrhea is the most common symptom of these infections. Keep her out of the water if she is especially vulnerable to illness.
Use swim diapers. Help keep your swimming area free of baby biohazards. Cover your baby’s booty with a swim diaper to contain bowel movements. (Urine, however, will flow right through.) The disposable swim diapers don’t puff up like regular disposables, and some reusable swim diapers work well, too. Check out this mommy blogger’s favorites.
Water SafetyParents in pools: YOU be the life preserver for your baby. Click To Tweet
The key is adult supervision. Never leave a child alone near water. Give your baby your undivided attention when water is around. Put away your cell phone, forget household chores, don’t drink alcohol, and let your friends chat without you. Your baby is very good at getting into water, and very bad at getting out! And once underwater, she can’t call for help.
If you don’t know how to swim, learn now. You may be the only one there to pull your child to safety. The Redwood Area Community Center offers private lessons for adults. Click here to check out their website, and scroll down to “Private Lessons.”
A child can drown in very little water. The YMCA warns that children can drown in “any amount of water that covers the mouth & nose.” Here’s what that amount of water looks like around the house:
- Just a couple of inches of water in the bathtub.
- A bucket half-full of water.
- Standing water on top of a pool or spa cover.
Check out the YMCA’s link here for quick, clear tips for preventing drowning.
You be the life preserver. Even if your one-year-old has had swim lessons or is wearing those inflatable floaties on her arms, don’t rely on them alone. Neither one can be trusted to keep her afloat–especially when she gets tired. There is no substitute for your watchful, protecting presence. Besides, she’ll love knowing you are fully engaged with her while she “swims.”
Your baby’s skin is very sensitive to sunburn, no matter what color her skin. So keep her covered with lightweight clothing and a wide-brimmed hat as much as possible. While swimming, a little sunscreen is all right on the exposed skin, even on babies under 6 months. Apply sunscreen 15 – 30 minutes before swimming for best protection.
She won’t tell you when she is getting overheated, so you need to make sure she stays in the shade. Avoid taking her out between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the risk of sunburn and sunstroke is greatest. Check out this helpful fact sheet from the American Association of Pediatrics.
Now you’re ready to go have some fun in the sun with your little one! Enjoy!
Have a great picture of you and your baby enjoying some fun in the sun?
Post it on Facebook and tag us to share it with our friends!
Does your baby need a swimsuit?
Come in to Choices’ Baby Buck Boutique and use your Baby Bucks to get one!