How to survive taking your baby swimming

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Swimming is something I really enjoy doing. I don’t particularly enjoy the getting changed before and after part, but when I’m in the water, I love it. I love that it gives me space to think. No-one asking me to do anything for them. Time just for me.

Swimming with children is a whole different kettle of fish. I first took little Miss swimming when she’d been home about a month so she was about 10 months. I went with my sister and 2 nieces. It took all 4 of us to get her changed and into the pool. There wasn’t any part of the experience that was enjoyable. I was shattered by the time I got home.

Being able to swim is such an important skill so I was determined to take her on my own. I researched our local pools and found one where I could take the pushchair poolside. That made getting her changed and keeping her safe much easier.

The problems started when it was time to get out. I’d taken the inflatable ring my husband and I had spent ages blowing up the night before. Little Miss looked so cute in it, in the swimming costume bought by her aunty. It had an adorable tutu attached to it. The tutu didn’t seem quite so adorable when it wedged little Miss into the inflatable. She was well and truly stuck.

It took me a good 5 minutes to get her out of the inflatable. How I managed it without her going head first into the pool I will never know. I looked up a few times to see the pool attendants stifling their laughter as they watched me struggle. Needless to say the inflatable never came with us to the pool again.

Swimming with children can be a lovely experience and it has so many benefits for them and you. It helps with strength, sleep, bonding and lots of other things listed here by swimming.org. I’ve been determined not to let my early experience of swimming with little Miss put me off taking them. As she’s got older, swimming has become much easier and a lot more fun. Baby sister coming too has been a challenge, but we’ve managed it.

In the early days, it felt like swimming was one of those things all other mums nailed. And I didn’t. So here are some things to consider before you start going with your baby, which may help to reduce the stress :

Research the changing facilities
All public pools will have family changing rooms, but unless you’ve been with kids before, you won’t know what’s there. The first pool I took little Miss to didn’t allow pushchairs on the poolside and had no secure seats for babies / toddlers. That led to a very stressed mummy by the time we got in the pool.

Try and go swimming on your own first and have a nosey in the family changing rooms to see what’s there. If you have more than 1 local pool, go to them all and see which has the best changing facilities. If that’s not possible ring up and ask. Knowing what you need to take and do makes it easier. My favourite local pool has baby seats attached to the wall which you can strap little ones into. This makes it so much easier to keep baby sister dry until I’m ready to get her changed. Without it she’d be crawling around on the floor getting soaked.

Getting changed
Get yourself changed first. Swimming nappies only keep poo contained so if you get them changed too soon, they’ll be weeing everywhere. If you’re taking the pushchair onto the poolside, put a towel or waterproof sheet in it before you put baby in to help keep it dry. Make sure you take at least 2 hooded towels – one for keeping baby warm while you get dressed and one for drying them with.

Clothing
Wear minimal layers that are quick and easy to get on and a thick coat or fleece and wooly hat if it’s cold. Wear flip flops regardless of the weather so that you can get them on and off easily without having to put baby down. Some pools don’t allow outdoor footwear in the changing areas. Flip flops are obviously easier to kick off than trainers. Putting your costume on under your clothes before you go will only be of benefit if you’re confident you won’t need to loo when you get there. I always need the loo when I get to the pool so I tend not to do this, but it can save a bit of time.

Swimming aids
Swimming aids such as inflatables and floats can be great but are often impractical to carry if you’re on your own. The best way of getting your baby used to water and confident in the pool is just to carry them. Most pools will have some aids in the small pool anyway if you want to use something.

Good luck and let me know how you get on.

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