Being for the first time in the water with your baby can be an exciting and anxious time, the varied emotions are based on how comfortable you are in the water.
When approaching baby swimming don’t approach it with a rule book, don’t even approach it with an idea of what you need to achieve or do to get your baby swimming. Taking your baby to the pool is not about putting them underwater the first session. It is about you and your child being comfortable with the environment.
The first few times they come to the pool, it is about you and your relationship with your child. The water is very sensual for the baby and is enormously supportive when they know and can feel that you are there with them.
A common question that I get asked by new mums or dads is – when I take my baby swimming for the first time will they slip out of my hands? Or, What happens if they scream? do I hop out straight away?
Simple answer - no your baby will not slip out of your hands, but you do need to hold onto them close. Holding a baby close to your body lets the baby feel they are safe as they are in your arms and close to your chest. You are the one person in this new environment that they trust. Hold your baby the same way you would on land, then as you and the baby begin to get more and more comfortable you can change positions to begin to engage different muscle groups.
If your baby does cry the first time in the swimming pool, don’t panic. A lot of parents get embarrassed and concerned that something is wrong with the baby. We have to understand this is a new environment and the one thing they need to feel more than anything is that they are safe. By you holding your baby close and slowly moving around the pool, it supports them to feel the movement of the water over their skin, they can see everything around them and still see that you are close.
For the first time you are in the pool with your baby, you don’t need to use toys to play or distract, the first time is you and your baby getting the lay of the land, seeing, feeling and splashing to build confidence and levels of being comfortable. After the first time you can begin to introduce toys, to engage them more and more.
In the first session don’t be in the pool for too long – 10 to 15minutes is plenty - remember this is about you both getting to know the environment, even though they won’t be swimming much they still will get quite tired and hungry from being in the water.
A few more points about Baby Swimming
Find a warm pool, especially for the first few sessions, as you want to be as comfortable and relaxed as possible
If your baby starts to get cold, get out and make sure you rug them up
Talk to your baby when you are moving about in the pool, your voice is very soothing and reassuring for them.