Swimming with Babies and Toddlers

For Mother’s Day yesterday, we went swimming with the girls—our second time in the pool since Jade’s birth.  Sunshine and Lily have been asking to go for several weeks, especially since they have new water wings and goggles.  On Wednesday, I figured eight weeks was a good time to introduce Jade to the pool, so we found our swimsuits, packed our bag, and headed to the pool for the evening swim.

Swimming with Babies and Toddlers

We arrived during lane swimming/aquafit and had the kiddies’ pools to ourselves for the first half hour.  Getting everyone into the pool wasn’t hard; the girls put on their swimsuits in record time, took turns on the potty, stood in the shower and then headed for the water.

Jade has never fussed through bath time, so she relaxed pretty quickly in the pool.  I kept her in the smaller, warmer kiddies’ pool for most of the swim while my husband took the girls to the other pool to ride the slide and whirlpool.  Then he came back to take Jade for a few minutes so I could go sit in the hot tub (aaaaaah!  Such luxury after nine months of staying away from it!).

I enjoyed watching the girls playing in the pool, since it seems like they gain confidence and skills every time we go to the pool.  Or maybe I’m just amazed I don’t have to hold them the whole time we’re in the water.  Lily still needs someone close to her in case she falls down, but Sunshine is getting rather fearless in the pool.  Jade fell asleep, so I ended up relaxing in the one pool while watching the girls play with my husband in the other pool.

Going swimming with babies and toddlers can be overwhelming at times.  I grew up in the water, so we’ve had all three of our girls at the pool at very young ages.  I recommend swim lessons, especially if you aren’t completely comfortable in the water yourself.  Red Cross offers several parent and tot lessons that help parents help their children in the water.  I did the Duck level with Sunshine when she was ten months old and learned how to help her hold her breath to go under water.  With multiple children, swim lessons help you get the kids into the water without having to help them all.  When Lily was young, Sunshine did lessons and I played with Lily.

Developing a pool routine takes some time too.  As I mentioned, getting into the pool wasn’t hard; getting all of us showered and dressed afterwards was a bit more complicated.  The girls need help washing their hair (something I insist on at the pool, because chlorine is hard on hair) and often need help pulling on clothes while they are wet.  I had to hold Jade and try to shower us both off.  With my husband there, we managed to juggle it, so if you have a baby, I recommend going swimming with your partner or another mom who can help.

If your city has multiple pools, try the different pools.  We go to three pools here in Victoria regularly (and tried a new pool yesterday) and each has different things we like or dislike.  The pools also have family change rooms and ladies’ change rooms.  Family change rooms work better when we’re all together or when the kids are little (they can’t run away), but the ladies’ change rooms usually have a playpen and change table, which is convenient if I’m by myself.  Be willing to experiment with location and routine until you find something that works for you.

Things to take to the pool:

  • We also use a baby flotation device. It gives Jade a bit more space to play at the pool and splash around, and I can have one hand on her flotation device and another hand to catch Sunshine or Lily when they come down the slide.
  • If you go swimming regularly, buying cloth swim diapers will save you money.
  • I really like one-piece swimsuits with sleeves and shorts for all of our girls; I find they fit better (and stay on better) at the pool, and cover up more if we’re at the beach.
  • My mom recommends waiting until kids are comfortable putting their faces in the water before letting them use goggles, but then I’ve found that goggles encourage them to swim underwater.

What do you think?  Do you take your children swimming regularly?  At what age did they start lessons?  Do you have tips for getting in and out of the pool with little children?

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  1. says

    Joanna – having a membership or scheduled lessons does encourage going to the pool more often. :) We like to go for the “cheap” swim times. I have mixed feelings about the water wings, but the girls thought they were fun so we let them use them for a bit. :)

  2. says

    You know, I should take my kids swimming more often! Especially since they’re at easy ages now, and hardly need any help getting changed. We don’t have a membership anywhere, so I just don’t think to go.

    That said, we do go to our beach a lot in the summer. Last year, my son was just starting to not need us right beside him the whole time. I think if I invest in water wings for him, he would likely try to swim across the lake!

    As for pool swimming, I love the pools that have a playpen in the change room. It was so nice to have a place to put the baby when I was getting dressed.

  3. says

    Momstheword – I have seen pools offering adult swim lessons, if he was interested in starting now. My brothers stopped swimming when we were 11 or 12 (I kept swimming for fitness) but my brother recently had my mom take him swimming again because he was joining the military and needed the skills. :)

    Janice – I can see my daughters joining a swim team someday, but as you say, it has to be balanced with other commitments! They also enjoy watching water polo so maybe that would be fun. :)

    Juggling Real Food – I agree that it’s about the routine and doing it enough to establish a good routine. :) Thanks for dropping by!

  4. says

    I love that you take the girls swimming. It’s seems like a hassle at first, but once the routine is down…….it’s like anything else you need to do with 3kids. I think it is so important that kids know how to swim. Gread advice on making sure kids have swimming lessons.

  5. says

    We have a pool in the backyard, so we swim there all summer long, and the girls have all been in weekly swim lessons year-round since they were 6 mos old. My oldest daughter (almost 8) can swim like a fish and has been asking to join the Milton Marlins Swim Team. (Though with her hockey, I’m not sure I can commit the time to swim team too).

    Great job on keeping your daughters comfortable with the water!

  6. says

    My oldest had some swimming lessons and so I feel pretty confident with him.

    We never got our youngest into swim lessons. It just never seemed to work out. Now I wish we had.

    He can sort of dog paddle and do his own version of swimming but I wish he’d take lessons. He’s an adult now so it’s highly unlikely that he’s going to want to do that.

    Thanks for hosting today!

  7. says

    Momma Mindy – I “homeschooled” swim lessons too, but my mom was a swimming instructor and always took the neighbour kids swimming with us, so it was fun. :) We learned just by playing in the pool!

    Janis Cox – I agree that swimming is a very important skill for kids. I’m glad that our daughters are getting more confident in the water and I’d ensure they do the lessons, whether the school teaches them or not.

  8. says

    Yes I took all three of our children to the pool, and the lake from a very young age. We also had a pool in our backyard for all the years they were growing up. Our youngest learned to swim under water across the pool at the age of 2 – I wanted to be sure I “drown-proofed” her.
    In her teens she loved swimming and was on the waterpolo team because of her strong swimming skills.
    I did not like when the government of ONtario took out mandatory swim lessons in grade 3. Now we have kids with no idea of how to swim – or safety around water.
    Thanks for the link up
    Janis http://www.janiscox.com

  9. says

    We made it a yearly event to check into a hotel with a pool for fun and lessons. We had read an article on teaching babies to swim and the tips were great. (No internet back then.)

    The kids were always disappointed to have homeschooled even swimming lessons, but found when they got to summer camp, they could always pass the swimming tests easily. It is so important to teach kids basic skills so they have no fear and survival skills.

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