Do you want to know when can a baby go in a pool? Well, while taking a baby swimming can be very exciting, it could also be a trying experience, especially for new parents. Helicopter parenting is inevitable when your child is still very young, especially between the ages of 0 and 4 years. Taking a child along to a pool can be very scary as you are constantly unable to relax. Your parental instincts could have you checking to see where your baby is every few seconds just to calm your mind and keep it at rest.
Drowning is a very real danger when children and water are in the same place. It could be fatal or non-fatal and is the leading cause of injury-related death among children, with those of ages 1 to 4 at greatest risk. Long-term health issues could also result from non-fatal drowning incidents, thus hampering the health of a child.
With such danger involved, you cannot afford to be casual about the safety of your child. You need to protect your baby from harm, so it could be tricky knowing when a child is ready to go into a pool, or even near a pool. Keep on reading to find out what age your child is ready to go in the water and more vital information about child and water safety.
INTO WHAT KIND OF WATER CAN YOU TAKE YOUR BABY?
Some waters are off-limits to babies of a certain age. It is a terrible idea to take an infant into a natural body of water like a lake, river, or ocean. This is because you cannot control any of the characteristics of these water bodies like their temperature or their impurity content.
Moreover, there are many dangers that could harm even adults. Strong waves and water creatures still cause serious injuries and deaths among grown-ups, not to talk of babies. You should only consider allowing a baby to swim in a regulated pool. You must also remember that babies are prone to wander and are naturally inquisitive. Therefore, if a child comes across a large body of water, you can be sure the child will be longing to go near or into it. So, if you are near a large water body, keep a close eye on your kids.
With supervision and proper precautions, older kids (>4 years) can be allowed to play in natural lakes, rivers, and the ocean. A lifeguard or an equally skilled swimmer must be present and don’t you forget to ensure they come along with their trusty life jackets!
WHAT ARE THE CONSIDERATIONS TO MAKE?
There are some factors about the pool that affect your baby which you need to be aware of.
Newborn children are not able to control their body temperatures to resist cold or heat so you need to regulate the temperature of the pool. You need to make sure the water is not cold or hot.
A baby should not be allowed to swim in saunas or pools heated above 100oF (about 38OC).
A baby is much smaller than an adult and so, they can’t hold as much heat in them. Also, adults have much more insulating fat and lower surface area to body mass ratio than babies so you can’t judge a pool’s condition with adult standards when it comes to your baby.
The normal homeostatic processes are weaker in babies. So, if you want to take your baby swimming, it is recommended that you go on a warm, sunny day.
It is also important to minimize your infant’s exposure to direct sunlight. A baby’s skin is more sensitive than an adult‘s and more prone to sunburns and allergic reactions. To protect from sunburn, cover your baby’s skin with sunscreen and reapply a layer after every foray into the water or every hour.
Your baby might be allergic to a particular sunscreen so first apply only on a small area of your baby’s back. If there are no reactions after 10 – 15 minutes, you may continue to apply.
Pools can be either chlorinated pools or saltwater pools. Saltwater pools contain less, but both have chlorine content. Chlorinated pools are kept clean and free from bacteria by physically adding chlorine to them. While saltwater pools are kept clean by a cycle of electrolyzing common salt into chlorine and breakdown of chlorine back into salt. So, saltwater pools contain fewer additives and chemicals and are milder on the skin and hair than chlorine pools.
Is chlorine dangerous to your baby’s health? A pool containing chlorine is perfectly safe for a baby if he or she has no chlorine allergies. So on your first few visits to the pool, you should watch for signs of an allergic reaction. Reddening of the skin and rashes are some of the signs to watch for. A baby’s eyes are sensitive and if they are exposed to chlorine, the baby might experience irritation and discomfort.
Dirt and infections:
Infants have very weak immune systems and are very susceptible to infections, especially immediately after birth. They should not be exposed to potential sources of infection, until 6 – 8 weeks after birth. Pools, especially public pools, can contain a lot of bacteria. A baby could easily catch diseases from the water or others in a pool.
A baby having a toilet incidence in a pool is an unpleasant and risky possibility as fecal matter contains microorganisms that can get into the orifices and membranes and cause irritations or any number of infections.
To prevent this messy situation, you should make sure to get water-tight swim diapers from a trusted brand. Ordinary diapers absorb water in a pool and swell up, so they are useless in a pool. Be sure to get some good disposable or reusable swim diapers.
AT WHAT AGE CAN A BABY GO INTO A POOL?
So at what age is your child ready to play in a pool and start learning to swim? Of course, you can bathe your child in a bathtub or bucket at any age. Generally, your baby should be at least 6 months old before you consider taking him or her for a swim in a large pool. Some things to note while doing this are:
- To begin with, you should, under no circumstances, leave your child unsupervised near an open pool, no matter how good a swimmer your child has proven to be. A baby can drown in a few centimeters of water.
- Keeping your phone away is best for total concentration. Drowning often occurs silently and fast so always be alert.
- Make sure the water is warm (close to body temperature), neither hot nor cold.
- The baby must be wearing a Personal Flotation Device (PFD). This is extremely important.
- If your baby is in the water, you should be within arm’s length of the baby at all times, ready to assist immediately.
- Never leave the child alone in or around the pool to do anything; answer the phone, go over to meet an old friend and get into a conversation and so on.
- Be careful not to put your child on a sloped surface.
- Make sure your child doesn’t drink the water. Pool water contains chemicals that may destabilize the baby’s metabolism and cause digestive illnesses.
- Keep the baby in the pool only for short periods. Always make sure the baby is in the pool for less than 30 minutes at a time.
- Prepare a swimming diaper and some floating toys for your baby.
- Bring a towel along to dry the baby after a swim session.
IMPORTANT FACTORS THAT MUST BE PUT IN PLACE
- Children under a year old are statistically more likely to drown at home in a bathtub or bucket. Keep buckets and tubs empty when they are not in use and close the door to the bathroom and the lids of buckets and water drums.
- Pools should be fenced off properly. When constructing a pool fence, keep in mind that babies are smaller than adults and older kids. The consequences of a moment’s negligence when it comes to babies could be potentially fatal.
- Don’t leave an older child in charge of a baby at the pool.
- If a baby has a recurring or prolonged health issue that water may aggravate like asthma or that may affect swimming ability like seizures, get professional advice from a physician whether to take the baby swimming or not. You should abide by the precautions you are given by the physician.
- If your baby is sick, recovering from a sickness, or currently on medication, do NOT allow him or her into the pool. This will ensure the safety of the baby and other swimmers.
- Should you let your baby into the pool right after eating? It is best to wait at least one hour because the unstable motion in the water may cause your baby to throw up in the pool.
- Make sure a strong swimmer is present at all times. You should also learn life-saving skills like Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).
It’s best to wait until a baby is 6 months old before going for a swim. Try to make sure your child has no allergies. Prepare some towels, swimming diapers, snacks, toys, sunscreen, and child-sized Personal Flotation Device (PFE). Remain cautious and always remember to take pictures and have a great time with your baby.