Spring is in the air and summer seems like it is right around the corner. As you plan your family trips, swimming with your little one is always a hot topic on parents’ minds. Many wonder when is it best to introduce baby to the water, where is ok to swim (tub, pool, lake, ocean), what temperature is “safe” and where does one find the endless gear needed for such an expedition.
While most of these questions are both personal family decisions as well as concerns that should be addressed with your baby’s pediatrician, there is some information below that will hopefully help you look forward to the warmer months ahead.
The goal of early swim development is to acclimate babies to the water, allowing them to have both an appreciation for the water, as well as to enable them to feel calm and confident when swimming. While the American Academy of Pediatrics use to feel that swim lessons before 4 years old was unnecessary, they recently recanted their statement. The AAP reminds parents to view such lessons as a supplement to supervised swimming and not to cause care providers to foster a false sense of security with their little ones near or in the water.
Learning to swim is an essential safety concern, especially for families who vacation on the shores and/or have homes with pools easily accessible. In addition to the educational safety component of structured swim lessons, such an activity provides enjoyment and a bonding experience for families, while instilling the importance of keeping a balanced, active and healthy lifestyle.
Before taking your your little guppy swimming in a pool, ocean or other body of water, remember to speak with your child’s pediatrician to review any questions/concerns you may have to ensure that your baby is ready to dive in.
Once you, your family and your child’s pediatrician feel comfortable introducing your little one to the water, it is important to remember that your infant/toddler usually has no preconceived fears regarding the pool, ocean or swimming. For this reason, it is an excellent idea to start swimming early, so children do not develop any fear of swimming, but instead learn to love and feel comfortable in the water. However, in the same breath, like with many other adventures, your little one will have no understanding of the potential dangers that can occur, which is why it is extremely important to have constant involvement and supervision around and in any body of water.
When parents and guardians do begin swimming with their children, it is also important to stay relaxed in the water, as babies will look to their care providers for help and advice. If you, as a parent or care provider, are nervous in the water (or having your little one in the water) they will sense that and assume they are doing something scary. So be mindful of your mood and remember to create a calming environment for your early swimmers and provide a safe and fun activity for your little guppies.
In addition to the questions surrounding swimming, is the concern over the gear involved in the sport.
See below for a few tips to start off your summer:
- Bathing Suits:
At this time of the year, finding your fish’s swim suit shouldn’t be too difficult. A few fashionable favorites are Jacadi, which offers you higher end options with a French flair, sophistication and class that meets many babies’ nautical needs. Most of the Boston boutiques geared towards families offer swim suits, in addition to cover ups, such as Isis Parenting. In addition, many stores, such as Baby Gap, Hanna Andersson and Babies R’Us provide families with various price points, designs and deals to outfit the whole family.
- Cover Ups:
While many of the above clothing stores offer coverups, there are also online stores and parenting catalogues that provide similar summer items, with potentially more convenience. Amazon is a one stop shop for all of your family needs from diapers and wipes, to toys and gifts, and yes–bathing suits and coverups. In addition, One Step Ahead is an online store that has most likely found your home via catalogue as well. While some of the items offered are unnecessary, this company provides many interesting and cost effective options for families. There are coverups with SPF protection, as well as others that serve more as “wet suits” that keep your swimmers warm in some of those chillier pools.
In addition to sunscreen coverups (see above), hats are an excellent way to shield babies and toddlers from the sun. Iplay hats, such as the ones found on Amazon, come in various styles and colors, and are practical and fashionable. Many have the ability to tighten to the head, so they will not fly away, while others have material in the back that protects the neck from the sun.
It is essential to protect your little one from the harmful rays, especially if you are planning any Caribbean vacations where the sun is stronger then many Boston Babies are accustomed to. What level of SPF and which specific brand you choose tend to be very personal choices, based on allergies, sensitivity, etc. However, California Baby (found at Babies R’Us, Amazon and other family friendly stores) is a wonderful option for children, providing ultimate protection with minimal reactions due to their sensitive, fragrance free products.
- Floatation Devices:
Whether you are looking to play with your little one in the pool, or take them on a trip to test out the ocean and refine their “snorkeling” skills, it is always helpful to have a floaty on hand during the summer. One Step Aheadoffers a nice option, at a reasonable price point, that also provides SPF protection. While this floaty provides your little fish with a bit of freedom and adventure in the water, please remember that these toys are very unstable and can easily flip. Constant supervision is necessary when babies are in the floaty and around any body of water.Other water and squirt toys are great ways to entice a more timid guppy to jump in the pool, but try to avoid floatation devices that go on babies’ arms, as they limit movement and mobility, which makes early swim development and stroke technique more challenging. If interested in equipping your swimmer with added buoyancy, using back floats are the best way to go. They allow swim instructors or guardians to take off one “brick” at a time, to challenge guppies as they improve their swim skills.
If you are interested in learning more about registering your little one for swim lessons, please contact Teal Martin, Assistant Manager of For Kids Only, at the SCLA-Boston.