Friday 24 July 2015

Pool time with a baby

Swimming pool that is, not billiards.

AJ and I went to parent and tot "swim lessons" this month. They weren't really swim lessons of course; the goal was to have fun in the water and try a few skills, with the child always within arm's reach of the parent. We did these activities:

  • jump into the water (parent always goes in first). The older children (the age range was 6 months to three years old) were able to jump in themselves; the younger babies were supported in some way by the parent.
  • Back and front float (supported). AJ preferred the front float. There is something she likes to do on her tummy!
  • Blowing bubbles (it took a few lessons for me to not be completely grossed out by this. I still am, a bit. Swim diapers don't absorb pee, ya know.)  AJ didn't blow bubbles, but she did like to stick her tongue out and lap up the pool water. Probably that's the reason she liked the front float.
  • Splashing. AJ eventually got comfortable enough to splash about.
  • Face in the water / head in the water. This was in and out. I had to force myself to put AJ under at first, but she quite liked it.
  • Dropping a plastic ring to the bottom and touching/retrieving it. This was more for the older children. AJ wasn't very interested in the ring. She would sometimes follow it with her eyes but when it went under water she'd look around for something more interesting.
  • Singing songs and doing actions (this took up most of the 30 minute class). By the end of the lessons I knew most of the lyrics and I think I deserve a mom star. In some ways I feel like an intuitive parent, in others not. I'm not a natural when it comes to singing nursery songs. I like the clever ones, such as Raffi's songs (this goes through my head all the time. But don't look at the video images. It's much more entertaining if you just listen and picture it yourself.). But it's hard me me to get into "If You're Happy and You Know It" or "Hokey Pokey". I paste on an enthusiastic smile and sing but inside I'm thinking "This is really dumb." Oh well, I knew I'd have to make sacrifices as a parent.  At least it's easier in a group. 
I am glad I signed up for pool lessons. I had been thinking about it for a long time, but it sounded so complicated to me to take a baby to the pool. It wasn't actually that complicated however. In case anyone out there overthinks these things, like I do, here are my tips for taking baby to the swimming pool (solo).

One sturdy tote bag for towels, wet swimsuits and water shoes.
One mini diaper bag with baby clothes and other supplies. I used a backpack sling bag which works great. I can wear it on my back when AJ is in the carrier, and in front when I'm changing the baby for easy access to the contents. (I'm also going to use this idea when I fly for changes in tight airplane washrooms.)

Mini diaper bag (backpack sling): change pad, regular and swim diapers, wipes, comb, baby's clothes, also mom's wallet, car keys, phone, etc.
Tote bag: Towels, pool shoes, the rest of mom's clothes

  • Put on your swimsuit and baby's at home, and wear clothes on top. Baby and mom wear separates (easier to get on and off)
  • I used a baby carrier. I found this easiest for me, but other parents used strollers or even car seats. I don't know what they did with those while they were in the pool. A stroller seems like more trouble than it's worth to me, and I would not be comfortable just leaving it somewhere.
  • Wear slip-on shoes. I also wear pool shoes (Vibram Five Fingers) because it gives me that extra bit of safety. And I hate warts.
  • Two piece swimsuit for mom. Easier to go to bathroom in. On that topic, go to bathroom before leaving for the pool. I always have to go when I get there anyway, however.
  • Bring less stuff. On one hand it's sometimes a good idea to prepare for any eventuality with a baby. On the other hand you have to carry it around. For short trips I prefer to take the minimum. The first time we went, I packed a personal care kit with soap, shampoo, mini loofah, deodorant, lotion, etc etc. HAHAHA no. That kind of high maintenance was for the pre-baby days. If you really care about being clean it's much easier to have a real shower after you get home.
  • Get a locker, preferably near a surface where you can change baby / leave baby within arms reach. If you have an ambulatory baby however, he or she is probably better off on the floor.
  • Plan for nap time afterwards. AJ was always very tired after swimming.
Pool time was really fun, and AJ even got her first report card afterwards. Woot, she passed! hahahaha. We will definitely be going back as a family.


  1. We did the same kind of class with my daughter. My husband (who swam growing up and taught lessons) thought that it was a waste of money, I thought that it was good to at least get her into the water and used to being dunked. This year she really likes the pool.

    One more tip that I would add: put on baby's swimsuit but with a regular diaper. Then when you get to the pool change baby into a swim diaper otherwise your carrier/stroller/car seat/etc could get soaked with pee!

    1. yes, that's a good tip! we learned that the hard way when we put AJ down for a nap in her swim diaper and the crib was soaked in pee.
      This class didn't cost much at all, but I can see how someone might pooh-pooh it. We didn't do anything that a parent couldn't do on his/her own, but it was more fun in a group. Also because the pool was closed to the public for lessons it was quieter. We went as a family one day and it was really noisy and busy. It was fun but overall better to have a quieter atmosphere with swim lessons going on instead of the usual chaos, especially for a young baby who isn't going to be going on waterslide, wave pool etc.

  2. That sounds awesome! I think I will look into doing something like that with Bubs when she gets a bit bigger! I think it is very important that children learn to swim, and to be honest, I am a bit rusty in the swimming department so it will be good for me too!! Great tips, too!

    1. I think most babies like water so it is fun. Also I think it's good to start when they are young because they are probably up for almost anything. From observing others it looked like the older children were most likely to get cranky about something or other. I think swimming lessons are a good idea too. I never had them, and although I know how to swim I kind of wish I had more technique.

  3. I never did a class with N, but she loves the water, and I wish I had. S. took I. when he was very little, but he didn't like it at all ... now, after three years of daily swim lessons at summer camp, he swims MUCH better than I do! I think you definitely deserve a mom star. :)

    1. Awesome. Being able to swim is a skill that pays off lifelong. Yay star for me! :-)

  4. Blogger keeps eating my comments! Writing from my phone, but just basically said they are great tips and that we love Raffi too

    1. Uh, sorry about that! no idea why it happens. Thanks! Raffi is awesome.