Taking a baby to the pool can seem like a daunting challenge. After all, getting out of the house with a baby is sometimes challenging enough! Here are a few tips to get you started.
First, buy a non-disposable swim diaper. These can be ordered for very little at swimoutlet.com. Go ahead and order two! That way, you can keep a dry one in the car or in the diaper bag. With my first children (I have 4), I went for convenience and bought the disposable swimmy diapers at the grocery store. Talk about throwing away money and filling up landfills! Not to mention, some pools will not let babies in the pool without a rubber pants cover. The non-disposable diapers are lined and come in cute prints!
This next tip is helpful if you have a baby with a toddler in tow. If your baby is used to being carried in a front carrier, buy an extra one at a consignment sale. Use this carrier to hold baby close to you in the water and free up your hands to keep hold of other little ones.
Once you make it to the pool, have baby dressed, and are ready to get into the pool, remember that the first goal is to make sure baby is safe and secure. Enter the pool by way of steps if possible. Hold baby close to you. Enter the water slowly, especially if the water is cold, to let the baby's body adjust. I always start by holding baby with his head near my head, facing me, with both arms wrapped around him in an embrace. I talk in a soothing voice and let my enthusiasm for the water be known. Smile and tell baby how fun swimming is. Walk around the shallow end; gently bounce up and down; swish gently through the water. Once baby seems relaxed, you can work on other skills.
Try turning baby facing outwards. Hold baby high on your shoulder and move his legs up and down in an alternating, kicking motion. Babies tend to draw their legs in towards their body, so you want to help them stretch them out a bit. Hold your baby high in the water and show him how you blow bubbles. Walk around and talk about what you see (I always make notice of the lap swimmers and swim team swimmers!).
Next- what to do with older babies...
Coach Mandi has been teaching and coaching swimmers at the USA, summer league, high school, and Masters