A solo mission - taking your baby to the pool
Our goal with teaching adult and child swimming classes is to develop your baby's love of the water, and to give you the confidence to take your baby to the pool and the skills to teach them the basics of swimming.
Taking your baby to the pool on your own during a public session can feel like a daunting task. I have posted about what to take to a lesson, and some tips on changing your baby, but what happens when you get onto the poolside? Here are some ideas for coping in the pool on your own:
Don't expect too much too soon! If you're planning a trip to the pool, expect to spend roughly ten minutes getting changed, ten minutes in the water and ten minutes getting dry. If you manage to spend more time in the water, well done!
Leave a towel poncho somewhere close to hand on the poolside so it's ready to wrap your baby up in when you get out of the water;
It is always best to go to a pool that has graded steps or a slope so that you can get in easily. Carry your baby facing towards you and take care not to slip - take your time;
If your baby can sit up and there are no steps, try the following:
Sit with your legs over the edge of the pool and place your baby next to you;
Place a hand on either side of your baby's legs to stop them crawling or running off and swivel your body into the water;
Reach up and gently bring your baby down into the water with you.
Only try the technique above if your little one is very confident at sitting unaided - you don't want them to fall backwards;
Always start by getting yourself and your baby used to the water. Give your little one a cuddle facing you and gently bounce up and down in the water. Aim to get both of your shoulders under bit by bit - it's best to always keep your shoulders in the water to keep you both warm;
Try to keep your eyes level with your baby's - if they have their shoulders in and you are looming over them it might not be the relaxing experience it could be!
Always, always watch your baby's mouth and check it's clear of the water;
Try taking a favourite bath toy to the pool with you for your baby to play with, or singing a familiar song so that they find familiarity in a new environment;
Relax - take a deep breath and enjoy the water. Watch your baby and take your time - don't worry about what anyone else is doing. You don't need to achieve anything in particular - you're going to the pool for fun!
Keep smiling! Your baby will pick up on any anxieties, and if you pull a face of shock and horror if the water is cooler than you expect it to be when you get in, or if water splashes near you, they will copy!
Anticipate when they're starting to get tired or overwhelmed, or when you know they'll soon need a feed, and get out sooner rather than later. Be kind to yourself - you don't want an exhausted baby in the changing rooms!
Most of all, enjoy it! Remember, the goal at this stage is enjoyment, not achievement!