Stimulating Development Through Swimming

While it might seem daunting getting into the water with your baby to swim, it has a range of benefits, from teaching them life skills, to getting them more confident in the water. Most experts agree that you should only start swimming with your baby after 18 months and when they can hold their heads up properly.

How do I introduce my baby to the water?
Give your baby plenty of time to get acclimatised to the water. Hold them securely, and start out with slow, gentle motions, like bouncing up and down together or swaying from side to side. Once your little one’s more comfortable with their surroundings, demonstrate some fun, basic skills, like blowing bubbles or splashing. Be careful that your baby doesn’t swallow too much of the pool water. This could lead to overhydration and electrolyte disturbances.

Should I take my baby to baby swimming lessons?
Another option is to take your baby to swimming lessons with trained instructors, who often work in heated pools. One of the newer methods of swimming training is Infant Self-Rescue, where babies work one-on-one with instructors and are taught to trust their own buoyancy, rise to the surface of the water, flip onto their backs, float, breathe and rest until help arrives if they are submerged.

What are the benefits of baby swimming?
The benefits of baby swimming are wide-ranging, for example:

  • It teaches water safety
  • It’s great for their physical and mental health
  • It promotes bonding
  • It boosts confidence
  • It develops their co-ordination

Swimming safety tips

  • Make sure the pool is warm enough and that the water comes up to your baby’s shoulders. Keep them moving in the water to stay warm.
  • As soon as your baby starts to shiver, get them out of the pool and wrap them up warmly. Babies lose heat more quickly than adults, so they shouldn’t stay in the pool for too long.
  • Start off with sessions of 10 minutes and build up to 20 minutes. If your baby is under a year old, limit your time in the water to 30 minutes maximum.
  • If your baby has a cold, temperature, tummy bug or seems unwell, don’t go swimming.
  • If your baby has a skin problem, check with your GP to make sure that the chlorine won’t irritate them. Always rinse the chlorinated water off your baby after swimming and apply a moisturiser all over their skin.
  • Never leave your child unattended in the water.
  • Ensure you know first aid and CPR.