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Parenting Poolside: The Five Things You Need to Know Before You Head Out the Door

Pool babyIt’s late June and in most of the country, families are going poolside for a little fun in the sun.  As a mom, you want to create an enjoyable water experience for your baby, but you also want to be extremely diligent about safety.  We’ve compiled some simple summertime tips that will help you and your baby stay safe and have a great time in the water.

1)      At arm’s length:  For the parent of a toddler or infant, pool supervision is critical.  Ideally, you always want both your hands and your eyes to be on your child at all times, whether she’s playing in the zero-entry section or floating in a tube.  However, this can get challenging – what if you need to chase down a toy or you have more than one child in the pool?  A good rule of thumb is that your child should never be more than an arm’s length away – you want the ability to provide “touch supervision.”  Even if your baby is in a flotation device or wearing water wings, it only takes a moment – another child racing by, a big splash, or just a turn of the head – for your child to lose her balance.   And, if you have to get out of the pool for any reason, take your children out of the pool with you.  Never assume you can dash over to your pool bag and leave anyone unattended.

2)      Climate control:   If the water is too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your baby, especially since babies tend to get chilly easier than adults.  Definitely try to plan your baby’s pool experience for a time when the water is warm.  Ideally, you want the water temperature to be in the mid-80s (Fahrenheit).   Ease your child into the pool, letting her get comfortable each step of the way.  If your child is shivering or lips turning blue, it’s time to head for dry land and a fluffy towel.

3)      Swim diapers are your friend:  Swim diapers and plastic pants seem like such a nuisance – until you’re in a situation when you need them and then they’re your new best friend!  As a mom, it saves you from having to change countless diapers or even worse, having to clear the pool because your child’s diaper leaked.  In fact, many public pools require that all children under the age of four wear swim diapers, regardless of potty-training.  Be sure to include a few in your pool bag (as well as an extra swimsuit for your baby).  And, word to the wise – try not to take your child swimming just after she’s eaten or you run a good chance of having to change that swim diaper more than once!   If you’ve done it, you know changing a sopping wet diaper is not something you want to repeat on a regular basis.

4)      Slow and steady does it:  Some children just take to the water like – well, a fish to water – but for many, the pool is scary, chilly and a bit out of their comfort zone.  So go slowly when you and your child first experience the pool, maybe sprinkling or lightly splashing your child with water.  Dip her little toes in the water so she can feel the sensation.  Most of all, have a firm grasp or hold so that your child feels secure.  Sometimes the scariest thing about the being in the water, is that free-floating feeling, so make her feel safe.  Also, don’t be surprised if your child was a water baby at the end of last summer but is apprehensive this season.  Nine months is a long time in the eyes of a child, so give her some time to get reacquainted with the water.

5)      Have fun with it!  To really foster a love of the water for your child, you want to ensure she’s not just safe but having fun as well!    Pool toys are an excellent way to help your child enjoy the water.  Pails, shovels, tea sets, beach balls – bring a variety!  Playing games with her, like Peekaboo or “Motorboat, motorboat” (when you swirl her around in the water, switching from slow to fast)   are great ways to show your child how much fun the pool can be.

Not every baby is going to love the pool the first time . . . or even the second or third time.  Don’t force the issue; have a backup plan like a cabana, stroller or pack ‘n’ play so that your baby can still have fun poolside.  Let your child’s love of water happen naturally, and don’t be afraid to give it some time and try again.

Happy Splashing from the Baby Pibu™ team!

Sources referenced:

  • Halpert, Julie.  “Help your kids learn to love swimming.”
  • “Water Safety.” KidsHealth from Nemours.


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