Oliver Octopus!

This week Ollie is on his first little British holiday in Brean and he has been swimming for the first time. I’m pleased to say, he absolutely loved it! He was laughing and smiling the whole time and after a while figured out kicking his legs was the idea!

I’ve been dying to take him swimming for weeks but I’ve read loads about it and wanted to make sure it was the right time. So I’ll share all the important stuff I’ve read and might save some moms from having to do loads of research like I did. Baby swimming is actually safe from birth but you should take them to specialist baby lessons if you go that early because the pool temperature should be above 32 degrees for tiny babies. I couldn’t sign up to classes straight away because of my c-section/ infection. The nurses advised me not to go swimming until it was healed because it can cause infection again. And also your muscles are still healing so it’s not a good idea to strain and cause damage.

Some moms prefer to wait until their babies have had their injections before going swimming as they worry about infections, generally pools are very clean because of all the chemicals so I don’t think this is a major concern. One thing you might come across with baby swimming classes is they have to be over a certain weight, usually 12lbs when this is a requirement it tends to be because they can’t heat the pool as much as they’d like, public pools are generally around 30 degrees which is fine for stronger babies. The pool we went to had a temperature checker on the side and it was just over 30. If you’re worried or unsure you could just take a bath thermometer! Then you know if it’s safe, sometimes if it’s cold outside it takes a while for you to adjust so it might feel cold but it’s fine.

I personally would have taken Ollie swimming earlier if I’d been healthy enough to take him so I don’t want to come across contradictory because his first swimming was after his injections and over 12lbs! That’s just how it turned out for me!

From what I’ve read and a few emails exchanged between baby swim instructors, babies can go swimming from birth but generally the youngest you’ll see in a pool is 6 weeks because 6 weeks is the recommended healing time for women post natal. Dads can take babies from day one! If you feel ready to go earlier (once lochia has stopped!) then it’s fine. Babies do not need to have their injections before going swimming this is a myth that has evolved from the days where polio was a common illness as it is a waterborne illness. 

 If you are going to take your baby swimming younger than 12 weeks or lighter than 12lbs then you should book into special baby lessons that ensure the pool is warm enough. When your baby is a little bit stronger they’re fine in a public pool. Do check the temperature before you go though, generally speaking the temperature is 29/30 but occasionally pools do have a lower temperature, I’m not sure why this is exactly. Although 25 would be hardly noticeable to us it is a bit cold for babies. 

 For this reason some public pools suggest waiting until six months before bringing a baby swimming. You know you and your baby, so it is when you feel comfortable, other than the temperature there are no strict guidelines on when you should or shouldn’t take them but if you see any signs of distress you can take them out! I decided if Ollie cried I’d take him out but he didn’t cry, just smiles!

If you are going to take your baby to a public pool, get them a little wetsuit like Ollie’s octopus one! This should keep them comfortable. They’re pretty cheap too, I paid about £5 for Ollie’s and if you get one at the end of the summer season they’re all in the sale. If they go to special baby lessons then they are ok in just a swim nappy. I use Huggies swim nappies and they were fine. Well, I think they were how would I know if any wee leaks! Boots do a good reusable swim nappy if you don’t have the wetsuit, they’re about £8. JoJo Mama BeBe do a lovely range of baby swimwear and matching hats and little waterproof shoes. They are more expensive but really good quality and I would definitely invest in them if we go abroad next year where he’ll get a lot more use out of swimwear.

Ollie really liked being in the pool. We bought a little baby float ring so we were pushing him between us and he looked like a spaceship pilot! So cute! He kept laughing and I tickled his little feet to encourage him to kick so he could move himself a little bit. Then we took him out the ring and just moved him around and he was kicking his legs again. We only let him stay in for 20 mins the first time, then we went back 2 days later and he stayed in for 30 mins. To be honest, I think he could have lasted a bit longer but everything I’ve read says 30 mins max so I took him out to get him warm. 

 A little trick that I accidentally discovered, I took a bottle of boiled water ready to feed him after but put his clothes next to the bottle so they were nice and warm when I dressed him! I didn’t mean to do that but it worked out nicely! If it’s possible keep a towel on the poolside so you can wrap him straight away. I took a couple of towels with me, one to soak up the wetness and one to warm him up. (I do that for baths too!)

I’ve always said I really encourage baby swimming, this is just my personal opinion because I couldn’t swim until I was 23 and the first time I put my head under water was about 3 years ago! I was always scared. I don’t want my kids to grow up scared of water slides and all the fun associated with swimming. It’s a good social skill too, I remember going swimming with friends as a teenager and just staying in the shallow end or ‘forgetting’ my stuff so I had to sit and watch.

I am going to try and enrol Ollie in baby swim lessons so that he can learn to swim properly as he gets older and so instructors can help me and show me what to do when I take him to public pools. Like I said, everything in this blog is just based on my experience taking a baby swimming and advice I’ve obtained from baby swim instructors. If anyone has any good advice or tips feel free to comment.