Fun in the toddler pool – tips for swimming with babies

Swimming and a summer camping holiday just go together. Warm days in the outdoor pool or in the sea, or in the indoor pool if the weather is a little less cooperative. Whether it’s just the two of you, or if you’re going with younger children or even teenagers, everyone can enjoy an afternoon in, on or by the water. And of course you can swim with your baby on holiday too. But what do you need to know, particularly if you’ve not done it before? What’s safe and fun for your little one, what are the do’s and don’ts, and what do you need to bring with you? Here are some tips for swimming with your baby on holiday.

When can you go swimming with your baby?

First off, some background information. Swimming with your baby is a fun and playful way to get them used to being in the water. It’s good for their motor skills, and for the bond between parent and child. Babies can go swimming from 2 or 3 months of age, if they have a strong enough immune system and can control their temperature. If you’re going for the first time, it might be an idea to go to a baby swimming class at a local pool. That’s because there will be everything you need at the pool to get started, and you’ll also get some practice in what to pack and how to get everyone changed. You’ll be able to tell from your child whether he or she is ready for swimming and whether they enjoy it. Useful to know: if you go to one of those classes you can get your baby changed in the swimming pool. You can take a car seat or Maxi-Cosi, and your baby can sit in it while you get changed. And your baby should always wear a swim nappy. You can see a list of the other things you should take with you at the bottom of this article.

Swimming with babies

Swimming with your baby on holiday

You’ve picked out a great campsite with a swimming pool, indoor pool or even a full-on leisure pool, and want to go swimming with your baby? A tip: visit the pool by yourself first for a look around. Are there changing rooms and what do they look like? Is there somewhere to safely store your car seat or buggy? At a campsite, it would be rare to find one of the deeper pools that is warm enough for a baby. The toddler pool is the best choice for a younger child. If it’s possible, go to the pool with your partner and your child. That makes it easier to divide up the tasks, keep an eye on safety, and take some great photos. You can also bring a special swimming band with you which will allow your baby to kick and float.

Are you going to a campsite with an outdoor pool? In that case, a toddler pool heated by the sun is also a good choice. Make sure it’s warm enough outside, but do be aware of the sun! Make sure you put enough sunscreen on your child, and consider a hat and a pair of sunglasses. It’s best to try to find a spot with a parasol for before and after swimming. Make sure that your child doesn’t get too cold, and that he or she is dressed warmly enough.

Swimming in open water?

Are you going camping next to a river, recreational lake or at the beach? If you want, you can also introduce your child to water here. The best way is to find a small pool, or create one, so that your child can play in shallow, warm water. The real open water will almost always be too cold for your baby. Of course, getting to know the sea or a river by paddling in calm water is also an option. Are you going to a natural beach? In that case, make sure your child wears swim shoes or sandals, to avoid them getting cuts on their feet from sharp stones or shells. Be careful around salt water if your child has any cuts or if they have eczema. Salty water can really sting! If you find the water too scary with your baby, or if you don’t trust the quality of the water, then it’s best to leave it for now, and wait until your child is a little older. Tip: a beach with the Blue Flag quality mark always has good water quality.

Swimming with babies

Make your own private pool

You can also enjoy the water with your baby at your own camping pitch. Grab a paddling pool, a little watering can and some toys, and hey presto, you have your own water playground! There might also be some other children around who want to join in the fun. Of course you can also pop some toys down on the beach under a parasol and fill a bucket or washing up bowl with warm water. Then you can play safely with your baby on the beach, while your partner takes a quick dip. Just try some things out to see what works for you and your baby, but don’t forget to enjoy your first camping holiday together!

Guidelines

  • Your baby can go swimming from approximately 2 or 3 months of age. In general, it is recommended that you only go swimming after your child has received their first vaccinations, at around 8 weeks old.
  • The water temperature should be around 30 to 32 degrees. An air temperature of around 34 degrees is best.
  • Don’t go swimming for more than 30 minutes with your baby. To start with, 15 to 20 minutes is probably plenty. All the new stimuli in the pool can be overwhelming for a young baby.
  • Don’t go swimming with your baby if they have a cold, and definitely don’t go if they have an ear infection.
  • Make sure that your baby doesn’t get too cold. If your baby is shaking or starts to get blue lips or fingers, it’s time to get out of the pool and warm up.
  • After swimming, dry your baby off well, and dress him or her in warm clothes.
  • Not sure if your baby is ready to try swimming? Check with your GP or health visitor.

For more information: www.babycentre.co.uk/swimming-with-your-baby

What do you need to take with you when you go swimming?

  • A bath cape
  • Large muslin cloths to dry your baby or to wrap them up in as soon as they’re out of the water.
  • Swim nappies and a swimsuit if you like
  • Normal nappies
  • Some body lotion or baby oil
  • Hat
  • Clean clothes for your baby
  • Plenty of towels or a dressing gown for yourself
  • A Maxi-Cosi or car seat where your baby can sit while you get changed.
  • A swimming ring or armbands and toys
  • If you’re swimming outside: sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses

Campsites with fun toddler pools

Do you have any tips about swimming with your baby? And which campsites do you think are best for young children? Let us know!

Marieke Krämer
  • Auteur: Marieke Krämer
  • Marieke has been camping since she was a baby. Her family would go camping at some of the most beautiful spots in the Netherlands and Belgium. Marieke loves active holidays surrounded by nature, combined with visits to interesting cities, in areas such as the French Alps, Slovenia, and Scotland.

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