Taking your baby swimming is a fun activity and an excellent way to bond with your little one.
So you might be wondering when exactly is it safe to take them into a pool.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) do not state an age when babies can go into a pool, although you should keep in mind babies under 8 weeks should avoid pools because the water may cause an infection.
So from 2 months onwards it should be safe to take your baby into a pool.
But should the pool be heated?
What age can babies go underwater?
And is the chlorine in pools safe for babies?
Let’s find out.
When Can Babies Go In The Pool?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) do not state an age when babies can go into the pool, although many pediatricians recommend you wait until your little one is 6 months old.
As a minimum you should wait until your baby is at least 8 weeks old, because before their immune system is very underdeveloped and they catch an infection from the water.
So if your baby is between 2 to 6 months old then it’s safe for them to go swimming in a pool, provided you follow some basic safety principles.
Swimming Safety Tips For Young Babies
- Babies can lose body temperature very quickly, so to avoid your baby becoming too cold you should only swim in a heated pool.
- Always hold your baby in the pool.
- Stay in shallow water where you can comfortably touch the bottom with your feet.
- On the first few trips do not exceed 10 minutes in the water with your baby. As they become more comfortable you can gradually increase the time, but keep the maximum time in the pool to 30 minutes until your child is one years old.
- Do not put your baby under water in a pool until they are at least 6 months old, or 12 months if in salt water (more on this later).
- If you’re not in a formal swimming lesson where there is a teacher present, make sure there is a life guard on duty in case you get into any difficulty.
Is Chlorine Safe For Babies?
Yes, chlorine pools are safe for babies.
However as with adults, chlorine can irritate a baby’s skin and leave it feeling dry and itchy.
This is of particular concern because a baby’s skin is much more delicate and sensitive than the skin of an adult.
So to counteract any negative effects of chlorine you should rinse off with fresh water after leaving the pool, use a mild cleanser and apply a moisturizer to your baby’s sensitive skin.
Can Babies Swim In Salt Water?
When swimming outdoors it is however very important to ensure the water temperature is not too cold, and that your baby is not exposed to direct sunlight.
You should also avoid your baby taking in any salt water.
Salt water can be dangerous for babies because their kidneys cannot process salt, so make sure they are not submerged or dunked in salt water until they are at least 12 months old.
Is Swimming Good For Babies?
Swimming is not only a fun activity for babies and parents alike, it also provides many benefits for your child, including:
- Increases confidence
- Helps develop balance and coordination
- Strengthens joints and muscles
- Improves sleeping patterns
- Improves appetite
Can Babies Breathe Underwater?
Babies cannot breathe underwater.
Babies are however born with a “diving” reflex which kicks in when they are submerged in water, and this reflex allows them to hold their breath for a short period.
Interestingly, this reflex goes away after around 6 months.
Babies also have a “swimming” reflex which enables them to automatically move their arms in a swimming motion when placed on their tummies in the water, but again this naturally goes away after 6 months.
What Diapers Should A Baby Wear When Swimming?
Many parents wonder if they can use regular diapers when swimming.
Unfortunately the answer is no – when your baby is in water it’s very important to use a swim diaper, because these are much more absorbent and should keep everything contained in the nappy should your little one do a poop.
As with regular diapers, you can buy both reusable and disposable swim diapers, so the choice of which one to use is up to you.
What Age Can Babies Go Underwater?
Many parents are understandably concerned about dunking or submerging their little one in water, and wonder if it is actually ok for a baby to go underwater.
The answer is yes, it is safe to dunk a baby under water, but when you should start doing this depends on the type of water you’re in.
In a chlorine pool, babies can be safely dunked underwater after they are 6 months old.
If your baby is swimming in salt water then you should not submerge them until they are 12 months old, because before this age they are not able to process the salt, which can be dangerous.
Why Do People Dunk Babies Underwater?
We’ve all seen babies being dunked underwater, but you may be wondering why people do this.
Many experts believe that if your baby is comfortable being submerged or dunked underwater then it helps them become a better swimmer as they grow up.
The theory goes that if a child is used to being submerged from a young age, they will not panic when they’re have to swim face down when learning proper swimming strokes.