Swimming with your child
The importance of swimming
There are many reasons why it is important to teach your children to enjoy water.
Swimming is lots of fun and excellent exercise. Here are tips for taking your toddler swimming.
Water reminds baby of their mother’s womb where they lived until just a short time ago. For nine months a mother and child are bound together, so that water triggers a reassuring memory for the baby and an incredible bond with the mother. That is why you should hold your baby in your arms when you go into the pool, without forcing him so as to strengthen this bond. In the water, your baby moves freely and naturally, and this is a time when you can spot defects that may not be noticeable out of the water.
Learning to keep afloat and how to hold his breath underwater is very important for a child, since it will prevent horrid accidents laer. Taking your child swimming early is a way to help your child not to be afraid of water, but is also very useful for parents who do not feel comfortable in the pool or who cannot swim.
On a physical and mental level, swimming is an excellent exercise against childhood obesity, it strengthens the heart and the lungs, helps to oxygenate the mind and stimulate the five senses (taste, smell, touch, sight and hearing). Swimming improves body coordination and balance, even with games. Many studies show that neonatal swimming helps to create new neurons.
Over and above all these benefits, swimming is a great exercise which stimulates the appetite and helps your children sleep more soundly, to the benefit of parents too.
How should you prepare for this new adventure
Before you decide to take your baby swimming, you can test your child's reactions at home during bath time; hold your baby in your arms and pour water gently over his body and head: this will gradually get him used to what happens in a swimming pool.
Babies can start swimming just a few days after they are born, but most baby swimming courses only accept babies of at least six weeks old. In the case of a caesarean section or if there are postnatal perineal scars, it is best to wait more than six weeks, or at least until after the next check-up.
Parents do not need to be experienced swimmers, because lessons are held in shallow water. If Mummy does not enjoy swimming, Daddy can take over, but once this has been decided, it is important that it is always the same parent that takes the toddler swimming.
Remember to wrap your baby in a snugly towel as soon as he comes out of the pool to prevent him from catching cold; remember to dry ears well and, in winter, wait a while before leaving the gym (give your child something to eat) so as to avoid sudden temperature changes.
Choosing the right pool
When you are ready to take your toddler to the pool, choose a swimming pool that gives you certain guarantees. Firstly, check that the swimming pool and changing rooms are clean and that the water temperature is around 30-32 degrees. Don’t go to the pool when it is very crowded and if there are other courses (for example if teams are training or there are aqua aerobics classes) since this may confuse your baby. Also check that there is a well-equipped baby changing area and that the environment is well-heated. Last but not least, ensure that there are qualified swimming instructors.
Things you should not forget
There are some things you should not forget to bring with you when you take your toddler swimming. The following is a check list of things you need to take with you:
- Disposable or reusable swim nappies
- Swimming costume.
- Bathrobe or towel.
- Body wash-shampoo.
- Baby Bottle.
Don’t forget to bring the things you yourself need to go swimming, from a swimming cap to flip flops!