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We went for a family swim at the local pool today. As far as I’m concerned, swimming is a great way to keep fit without the horrible sweaty feeling! And the girls love splashing around in the water. It’s one of the few things that literally appeals to all ages – from newborns, to primary school children, to teenagers, to pensioners – everybody loves swimming! We like that we can go and do something AS A FAMILY, and we all get something out of it. So with that in mind, here are my 8 top tips for going swimming with little ones…
1. Find a ‘family swim’ session
When you’re taking little children swimming, you don’t really want lots of loud music, boisterous school children, and huge inflatables bobbing around everywhere – it’s too intimidating for them. Try to find a session that has a few small toys to play with (watering cans, balls, little floats) or where you can take your own. If you local pool has a ‘small pool’ and a ‘large pool’, the chances are, the small one will be the calmer, gentler family session.
2. Start them young
Current advice from the NHS website states that it is fine to take young babies swimming, even if they haven’t had all their immunisations yet.
We first took Charis when she was just 6 weeks old and so it’s something she’s grown up with. Obviously, you have to watch them like a hawk (!) but even tiny babies love the feel of being in the water.
Don’t worry if you’ve already missed that stage, though – older kids can be introduced to the water. However, older ones will fall into one of two categories – either they’ll be really confident and jump in straight away, or they’ll be super nervous. If it’s the latter, pay particular attention to point number 4! Parents can wrongly assume that older children will be water-ready quicker than babies, but remember that as children grow, they aquire a greater awareness of the world, themselves, and possible dangers around them. This can make them quite frightened at the thought of such a large amount of water.
3. Find a quiet time
We aim to get to the pool for about 12.30 on a Saturday afternoon and, 9 times out of 10, there’s nobody else there! This means we can have the pool to ourselves. Ring up your local pool and they will be able to give you an idea of their quietest sessions.
4. Take it slowly
The key to taking little ones on their first few visits is to TAKE IT SLOW! Honestly, just start by standing up on the edge of the pool, holding your baby. This will get them used to the noise. If they’re coping with this, try sitting down on the edge of the pool with your feet dangling in the water(not the baby’s yet!). This will get them used to the lights reflecting off the water. If your pool has a sloping entry or wide steps that you can sit on, try that next so that you can just dip your baby’s toes in. You get the idea – just take baby steps (excuse the pun!) and if your little one is OK with that then push a bit more. Each visit your time from entering the room to getting in the water will decrease as your baby starts to recognise what is going on.
5. Take snacks with you
I am always famished after going swimming (even when all it has consisted of is hobbling around on my knees in the shallow end, clutching a baby). So make sure you pack a banana or a Mars Bar or something to give you a quick boost when you get out (even the contentest of babies IN the water can be a nightmare to dry and change once they’re OUT of the water!)
Your little ones will be just as exhausted and so will need something to eat too.
6. Check out the pricing structure
Swimming pools offer all kinds of deals from loyalty cards to family discount cards so find out what is available near you. It is worth taking time to look through the figures, though, as under 5s are often free so it may be cheaper to just pay the regular adult fee and get your children in for free, rather than paying for a family ticket. School holidays are a good time to go too as pools often have extra deals on to encourage children to go.
7. Buy the swimming gear in the Autumn
Kids swimming outfits aren’t really too expensive these days, but if you want to save a few extra pounds, wait until stores are selling off their summer stock and buy then. Every little helps, I say!
8. Swimming nappies are a MUST
I have a friend (no names mentioned!) who said that she wasn’t going to bother with swimming nappies because they never do any good anyway. PLEASE don’t do this – you never know when your baby is going to poo and, let’s face it, who wants a face full of faeces when they’re merrily swimming the breaststroke?! Not to mention the huge cost to the swimming pool to get the water full cleansed again. We have always found Huggies Little Swimmers to be very reliable but there are others available too.
(Also, don’t be tempted to just put on a regular disposable nappy – it will simply absorb all the pool water, swell up, and weigh your baby down.)
I don’t know if it’s just me but there’s something about being a swimming pool that makes me feel like a kid again – I love the weightless feeling (don’t we all?! Lol), and the brightly coloured floats, and the cheeky laughter of my children as the splash me… again………and again!
It’s great to just be in the moment and enjoy playing as a family. Happy times!
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