It brings a smile to my face whenever I hear the “motorboat, motorboat, go so fast” song, because it takes me right back to my years as a swim teacher. I have always loved watching the “water magic” happen between parent and babe. If you’ve had a little one in swimming lessons, you’ll likely remember holding your baby close and spinning around to this very song!
June 4th-11th marks National Water Safety Week and now that summer is almost here, it’s a great time to introduce your baby to the water. Swimming is a wonderful form of exercise and will help your child become more comfortable in the water. Learning to swim is an essential life skill.
Equally important to swimmer comfort is swimmer safety. According to the Lifesaving Society, drowning is the second leading cause of preventable death for children under age ten, with those under five at most risk. Unfortunately, private backyard pools pose the greatest risk to kids this age.
So what can we do?
There are many ways to reduce your child’s risk of drowning. Constant supervision, water safety education and swim lessons are key factors. In Halton Region there are many excellent learn-to-swim programs, contact your local municipality for information. While your baby is young, you are their greatest influence around the water.
Tips to make your early trips to the pool a success:
- Complete your 6-week postpartum check-up
- Are you and baby both healthy?
- Bring along extra help (especially for the first visit)
- Bring a small stroller for baby when you are getting dressed, and need a hand
- Make sure the pool environment isn’t too noisy (especially for first few swims)
- Is the temperature of the pool and air warm? Pool temp should be 32 degrees C (85 F)
- Swim diapers are a must
- Bring a few of baby’s favorite bath toys
- Pack a hooded towel for baby, and a robe for yourself
- Have a change mat handy, and extra swim diapers
- Plan for a snack/feed after swimming- baby will be hungry
- Plan for a 10-30 minute swim session
- Keep water level at baby’s shoulders for warmth
- Hold baby close (within arm’s reach) and maintain eye contact, be positive
- If baby shivers, it’s time to come out
- Plan to use the showers to rinse off chlorine
- Pack and use a good moisturizer
- If outdoors, keep sun safety in mind – look for shade, wear swim shirts, hats with a brim and apply sunscreen as needed if baby is over 6 mths.
- When outside try to avoid swimming when the sun is the strongest between 11-3pm
Good luck, have fun and be water smart.
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For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.