I have loved the water ever since I was very small and now that Olivia is 6 months old (and the weather is cooperating) we have been pool bound every day. While at the pool I've had many parents ask me how old she is and how early I introduced her to the pool and have received a lot of compliments about how well she does in the pool. I've also watched several parents force their crying baby to stay in the pool so that they could "get used to it". Although that might be what works for some, I just want to make pool time as fun as possible. Here are a few tips on how I prepared Olivia for pool time.
- At a very early age (2 months) I would get her dressed in her swim suit and sit her on the pool stairs with me, making sure only her little feet were in the water. She didn't have any major shots yet, so I didn't want her touching too much of the water or put her in a situation where water could get into her mouth.
- I have never bathed her in a baby bath tub. When bathing, I fill up the regular tub with about a half a foot of water and lay her on her belly (with my arm under her of course) and allow her to exercise her natural kicking and "swimming" reflexes. I allow her to to this for about 10 to 15 minutes before I get to the actual bathing part.
- I have a blow up bath pillow I bought at Walmart for when mommy gets to take long relaxing baths (yeah right!) Which has now become Olivias bath floatie. It's in a shape of a shell, so once she became more comfortable on her tummy I switched my arm for the floatie pillow and just held on to it and kept a very close eye on her. With the floatie it was much easier for her to practice her kicking and she holds on to it like a boogie board.
- We are lucky enough to have a big soaking tub, so every now and then we'd fill the tub and one of us would go in there with her. We did it to get extra bonding time with Olivia, thinking it would help her relax in the water but it also helped her become comfortable with us holding in the water. This seemed to make a difference when going into the pool.
- Another thing that definitely helped was waiting until she could sit on her own and unassisted. I think this helped her stay upright while I held her with only one arm in the pool. I'm sure you could take the baby in the pool while holding the baby with both arms to make sure they don't fall back, but if you need an arm to stabilize yourself it's definitely safer knowing your baby will hold himself up on their own. It was also a good idea to wait until she could sit up on her own because your arms WILL get tired and having her sit on the top step of the pool (with my hands VERY close to her) so that I could get a break was a life saver!
- MAKE SURE THE POOL IS HEATED! Don't need to say anything more here.
- The last tip would be to let your baby watch you having fun in the pool before you bring em in with you. I mean, they already want to do everything you do. I did not do this with Olivia but I think she might have thought of the pool as a giant bath tub. However, when daddy took her out of the pool so that I could take a swim she made a big enough fuss while watching me and we figured out she wanted back in!
At the end of the day every parent should make their own assesment of whether their child is ready for the pool or not. I found that these tips made a huge difference. The first time we took her to the pool area she seemed very frightened and after a few months of the bathtub tips, the actual introduction into the pool went very smoothly. She even seemed excited to get in. Are there any pool tips that worked for you? I'd love to hear from you!