A mum supports her baby as they float on their back in the swimming pool

Taking your baby swimming for the first time

Taking your baby swimming for the first time is an exciting step – and it’s a memory that you will cherish for many, many years to come.

It’s natural to have questions ahead of your first swim with your baby and, in this blog, we answer some of the more common queries we hear from parents, including:

  • When can I take my baby swimming?
  • What will my baby need to wear in the swimming pool?
  • What will I need to bring with me?

When can I take my baby swimming?

We often get asked: “When is the best time to start bringing my baby swimming?”

This is a question that a lot of parents ask – along with “do I need to wait until my baby has had all their vaccinations before taking them swimming?”

Babies can swim from birth, and the water provides a reassuring and familiar environment for newborn babies. If you are a new mum, though, you may be advised by your health visitor or midwife to wait until you are a few weeks post-partum before visiting a swimming pool due to the increased risk of infection in the first six weeks after giving birth.

Do I need to wait until my baby has had their vaccinations before taking them swimming?

No – it’s perfectly safe to take your baby swimming before they have had all of their vaccinations.

It is worth bearing in mind, however, that some little ones may feel a little out-of-sorts after some of their vaccinations and may not enjoy swimming – or any other activities – as much as normal as a result.

What should my baby wear in the swimming pool?

A double nappy is a must for all baby swimming lessons and sessions, and this will be needed until your little one is 3-years-old and reliably potty-trained.

There are two parts to a double nappy. The first is a swim nappy which looks just like a ‘normal’ nappy but is designed to not leak or expand in the water. There are a range of re-usable and disposable options available and you can pick these up online, via your local supermarket, or at a nearby chemist.

A double nappy is essential for baby & toddler swimming lessons

The second part of the double nappy is a neoprene nappy cover. This sits over the swim nappy and provides protection against any unwanted leaks. We highly recommend the Splash About Happy Nappy, and you can pick these up at many of our learn to swim venues. Whatever brand you use, this neoprene nappy cover needs to provide a snug fit around your baby’s tummy and their legs – trust us when we say that this is not the time to go up a size and give them plenty of room to grow!

Some grown-ups like to put a swimming vest or a swimming costume over the top of their double nappy. This is entirely up to you and will usually depend on the age of the child, the temperature of the pool, and your personal preferences.

What will I need to bring for my baby’s first swim?

A double nappy and a towel (a warm, hooded one is what we’d recommend) – these are the two essentials. You will also need a costume and a towel for yourself.

If you are attending a Nemo Swimming lesson, there isn’t anything you need to bring for the class itself – everything will be provided for you. There are, however, some things that you might find helpful for before or after your lesson:

  • A car seat – this is really handy for when you’re getting your baby changed after their swimming session. Get them changed first and then pop them in their car seat while you get ready.
  • A baby changing mat – Splash About have fantastic neoprene changing mats available on their website that fold up neatly into a swimming bag.
  • A post-swim snack – swimming is hungry work and your baby will probably want some milk or food afterwards. Our PaddlePod venues have on-site cafes where you can sit and feed your little one after their swim.
  • Something to keep them occupied – as they get a little older, a little toy they can play with is a great way to distract them as you get ready.

We recommend loose-fitting clothing for your baby and grown-ups – something that is quick and easy for you to change into after your swim.

How do I get into the pool with a baby?

Baby swimming is loads of fun for little ones and their grown-ups

This is one of the many things that we teach you in your Nemo Swimming lessons, as well as how to move around the pool together safely.

If you’re not quite ready to start baby swimming lessons, why not try one of our Swim with me play sessions? These are run in partnership with our friends at PaddlePod and offer a great introduction to swimming and all the fun that it provides.

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