Philomena Geary’s tips for a happy first swim with your baby
1. Build your baby’s water confidence up at home
Before taking your baby swimming for the first time, use water play at home to develop cognitive learning and start connecting your baby to water. Try playfully pouring warm water over their skin, making gentle splashing noises and using a variety of toys or household objects, like plastic food tubs and sponges to scoop, pour and play together.
Get the paddling pool pumped up in the garden. If you don’t have room for a pool, try filling a bucket with warm water and bath toys to play with. Dip tiny toes in to begin with and have a splash. For slightly older babies and toddlers, running through sprinklers provides hours of water-based fun, or invest in a water table that has funnels, squirters and waterfalls.
2. Plan ahead before taking your baby swimming
Visiting the pool before you actually go for a session can help your little one learn to swim. This way your baby can become used to the atmosphere and take it all in. Give them lots of reassurance and cuddles.
Make sure your baby has eaten an hour or so before a swim and try not to take them too close to nap time. Being hungry or tired won’t help matters. Make sure you’ve packed a pair of swim pants for your baby so they have the right kit for the pool too.
If you can, take a friend for moral support. It will help you relax too, even if your baby starts putting up a protest in the water.
Pick a baby-friendly pool to visit to ensure the water will be a warmer temperature. Babies like to be warm and cosy.
3. Take your first swimming trip slowly
Always be led by your baby. Once you’re in the pool, cradle your baby close to your body and carefully move around the pool with your feet firmly on the floor. Once you’re both comfortable, gently bounce the baby up and down in the water. Next try moving your baby from back to front and front to back.
Go for short sessions to begin with. 10-20 minutes is more than enough. Try to go regularly as this will allow both of you to get used to swimming together.
Sometimes you might just need to accept that your baby isn’t in the mood. If you’ve tried a few games or distractions and she’s still unsettled, just call it a day and quit while you’re ahead.
4. Sign up for a baby swimming class
One of the best ways that babies learn is through repetitive behaviour or patterns, so make your pool trips a regular event. Signing up for a baby swim class will help you stay motivated as well as being a good opportunity to learn new methods and meet other parents in the same boat.
What was your tear-free baby swimming tip?
Now we’ve heard from the swimming expert, we asked our resident parents for advice on making their baby’s first swim, a happy one.
Swimming with your baby without a plan
Helping you make a splash
When it comes to baby swimming, we’re here to help you make a real splash. Discover expert-led articles that cover topics from swimming bag essentials to fun swimming activities. Each one is full to the brim with ideas and advice to make diving into the pool an event you and your little one will love.