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Baby Swimming - Step by Step Guide

Taking your baby swimming is lots of fun for you and your little one, but we know you'll want them to feel safe and happy in the pool. To help mums and dads feel confident about taking the plunge, Huggies® has created a step-by-step guide to paddling paradise.

Step 1: Getting Started

Huggies-swim

The best way to build confidence with your little one is by splashing about in the bath at home. Make sure the bath water is about 32°C and the room is no more than 27°C. Cradle your baby in the bath and gently wash all over the body. Follow these top tips to get you started:

  • Get used to being in the water together. Sit in the bath with your knees up and hold your baby so they are facing you. Alternatively lay your baby against your legs and talk gently while you splash water on their tummy
  • Start by gently turning your baby around so their head is on your chest. Put your hands under their head and let them float with their ears under the water. This is a great way to get ready for the pool but if your baby doesn't like it at first, sit back up and try again another time
  • Babies have a strong sense of touch and love being in water. They might start kicking, smiling and moving about. This is a good time to give them bath toys, which you can take to the pool to play with as well. Move your baby backwards, forwards and in zigzags. Give baby lots of praise and cuddles too
  • Keep moving to give your baby different sensations and to exercise different muscles. Hold your baby on their front with their arms between your thumb and forefinger so they are naturally supported. Gently sprinkle water on their tummy or back and let them get used to floating
  • Remember that swimming is great exercise for you too. It's low impact and ideal for mums who should take it easy for the first six months following birth

Step 2: Heading to the Pool

You can take your baby swimming at any age so here's some good advice for when you head to the pool.

  • Do a dry run first and check out the pool. Find out if you need a changing mat or coins or tokens for the locker. This will help you to be prepared and not have any surprises when you go
  • Check if your local swimming has specific times for mums and babies to go. It's a great way to meet other mums and babies in your area
  • Get your bag ready the night before. As well as a baby swim suit, nappies, wet wipes, cream, baby clothes and towels, don't forget you'll need a proper swim nappy like Huggies® Little Swimmers®. And don't forget to take your own swimming costume and towel - you wouldn't be the first mum to forget!
  • To save time, put your swimming costume on under your clothes at home so you've got more time to get your baby ready at the pool
  • Have a warm shower and cuddle your baby before you get into the pool, gently washing warm water over their body
  • To get into the pool, lay your baby down by the side of the pool, get in first and slowly lift them in
  • Take a snack such as a banana or yoghurt because your baby might be hungry after a swim. The Department of Health recommends you introduce solids into your baby's diet when they are six months old

Step 3: Take the Plunge

step 3 swimming

Now you're ready to take your baby into the water, here are some things to bear in mind:

  • Cradle your baby close to you, slowly move around the pool with your shoulders under the water and feet firmly on the floor and gently bounce your baby up and down
  • Be natural with your baby. Encourage them with smiles and chat, as well as plenty of eye contact and praise
  • Build confidence by moving your little one from back to front and front to back. Use relevant words like 'bubbles', 'kick' and 'splash'
  • Repeat what you did in the bath at home. Your baby will enjoy the familiarity. If your baby is cold and not enjoying it, get out of the pool and have a warm shower
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Step 4: Make a Splash

  • Play with a favourite bath toy. Hold it out of reach so your baby tries to grab it. Hold it over their head so they look up and sprinkle water gently onto them to see how they react
  • Encourage your baby to hold onto the side of the pool and climb out. Let your baby hold on to a float and zoom them around in the pool
  • Make it fun with games like 'Peek a Boo' or chasing a toy across the pool. Face baby towards you and move backwards so your baby is moving forwards and blow bubbles under the water as you move
  • Bounce baby up and down using words like 'Bouncy, bouncy' to help build their confidence - if baby accidentally goes under the water a bit of praise and a cuddle will help
  • When your baby can sit up on the side of the pool, sing 'Humpty Dumpty had a great fall' and lift your baby into the water with a splash!
  • As your baby becomes more confident and adventurous in the water, give them lots of praise and encouragement
  • Once you've started taking your baby swimming, keep it up! It's a great way to get out of the house and have some exercise and fun with your little one
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