We introduced Atticus to his first swim when we visited Iligan because what’s a trip to the province without some water fun? But as first time parents, we’ve had some hesitations.
So we asked our pedia and did our research and found out that babies can swim as early as 6 weeks.
Things to Consider:
Wait for the belly button stump to fall off
This is an added protection from picking up infections from the pool or beach.
Get your baby comfortable with water
Let your baby get accustomed to being in the water in his tub first. This will help him enjoy swimming later.
Make sure the resort’s water is lukewarm
Babies cannot regulate their own body temperature as much as adults so make sure that the water is close to the normal temperature. This is around 33 degrees Celsius, or you can test it by diving in first. If the water is a little cooler than this, you may still bring him for a dip but get out after 5 or 10 minutes.
Things to bring:
Gone are the days when kiddie pools smell of ammonia from baby diapers. Well, maybe not entirely. But swim diapers are now available to manage our nappy woes. These are water proof so pee or poo won’t get out.
Tikoy still wore a disposable diaper inside to be sure.
Baby skin is extra sensitive and burns easily. Block the harmful rays of the sun with a baby sunblock.
Tip: You can also go for a covered pool or swim by the shade to protect your baby.
Rash guards act as an extra barrier from the sun and a shield from getting too cold when the wind hits them (after getting wet).
Wash cloth with with soap, baby towel, and dry clothes
Have a thick baby towel nearby so you can wrap your baby as he gets out of the pool. Wash off the pool water from his body with a baby wash and change into dry clothes immediately.
Babies get hungry after a swim as much as adults do. Have a snack after changing.
Things to watch out for:
Pay attention to your baby’s lips or nails. If it pales and turns blue-ish, take him out of the pool right away and wrap him in a warm blanket.
Highly Chlorinated Water
If the pool smells strongly of chlorine and the water isn’t clear, it is best to stay out of it. That means the water has been sitting there for a while.
Drinking pool water
Make sure his head is appropriately above the water so he wouldn’t drink any of it. Ingesting pool water may cause diarrhea or chlorine poisoning. Our pedia told us that it is inevitable for kids to swallow some water accidentally (other kids even drink it up out of curiosity), but swallowing too much could cause illness.
Getting water inside the ear
One of the most common infections babies contract are ear infections and the usual culprit is the pool. Keep his ear above water, or if it does get wet, have a soft towel nearby to dry it up and prevent it from getting inside.
Tip: If you’re in-charge of holding your baby while swimming and his face is away from you, have your spouse or someone else keep watch of his face.
One of the old Filipino practices is to spread baby oil or Vicks Vaporub on the baby’s back before swimming to keep them “warm”, and for others, “to repel water”. Our pedia strongly advised against it because Manzanilla, a popular oil used for babies can be allergenic, and Vicks may not be used for kids below 2 years old. She said it’s unnecessary and she would put more importance in not letting Atticus drink pool water or get it in his ears.
We had three tries for Atticus.
Our first swim was at a spring pool, where the water was too cool that he started crying the moment his feet touched it. We stayed for photos only.
The second attempt was in a pool at a colleague’s party. The water smelled strongly of chlorine so we didn’t let him swim, but he did enjoy watching the other kids splash and make little ones of his own with his feet.
The real deal was when we went to a beach resort with his wawa (grandmother) and cousins. The water was clear and warm. We took him to the beach early when the sun wasn’t too harsh yet. There, he sat on his daddy’s lap, observing his Ate* Traviss and Tiffany swim about. We were too busy chatting that the waves rocked him to sleep.
*a Filipino term of endearment for an older sister
Next we tried the pool. Watching his ates do laps was inviting for him. The moment his body touched the water, he intuitively assumed a swimming position and waded around while we were holding him by his armpits.
We let him have fun for about 15 minutes and changed him immediately. He did a few “laps” which made him hungry. Abi nursed him and fell asleep not long after.