Babies can go in water from day one and most of them will love their daily bath (they’ve spent nine months in fluid, after all). So you might be thinking you have a water baby on your hands and want to get them to the beach or swimming pool to build on that love of the water. Water safety and teaching children to swim is an invaluable life skill and is imperative to help them stay safe. However, there are some things you need to be aware of with water and babies.
Newborns are unable to regulate their body temperature and so you need to make sure they do not become too cold. There is also a chance they can pick up an infection and so the recommendation is that you wait until they are 6-8 weeks old to take them swimming. If they are swimming in a public pool or area it is good to wait until they have had their 6-week vaccinations.
For babies under six months make sure the pool is heated or the ocean/river/lake water is warm and clean. Do not leave them in the water too long and if you notice them shivering, take them out and get them warm immediately.
Alternatively, make sure the water is not too hot. Babies and young children should not go in hot tubs or spas.
Make sure you always practise water safety with your baby, never leaving them unattended near water (babies can drown in less than two inches of water), holding them carefully above the water even if they are in a floatation device.
Babies can start swimming lessons from just a few months old (check with your local swim centre) and this can be good to get them used to the water and feeling confident. A parent or carer will always be with the child until they are old enough and have learnt the skills to be able to swim safely on their own.
If you have a pool or spa at your home make sure the fence meets Australian standards, that it remains closed at all times and there is nothing around the fence a child can use to climb into the pool area.
Make sure you are familiar with CPR and resuscitation in babies.