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Tips for 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.

Tips for 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. 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. If you want to get your little ones into the pool, here are my tips for swimming with babies and toddlers.

Tips for swimming with toddlers

Tips for Swimming with Babies and Toddlers

I do 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 when they are wet.  I had to hold Jade and try to shower us both off.  With my husband there, we managed to juggle it. 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). 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). The ladies’ change rooms often 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. 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. After that, I’ve found that goggles encourage them to swim underwater.

Do you take your children swimming regularly?  At what age did they start lessons?  Do you have tips for swimming with babies and toddlers?

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