It’s like the transition from carefree grabbing your keys and running out your door to the rigmarole that is preparing to leave the house with a baby. Swimming with a wee one is a little more complicated than just jumping in the pool. After a few rounds of swimming lessons with an infant and, now, a toddler, I’ve rounded up some tips to keep the chaos to a minimum and health/safety at a maximum.
Get as ready as you can before you leave the house. Because locker room or poolside chaos is just that. For the tiny human(s), that means wrestling the swim suit on at home and popping the clothes over the top. I even put on a swim diaper stuffed with a cloth diaper (aka burp cloth) that I just pull out when we get to the pool. For mama, it also means putting my own swim suit on under the simplest outfit of all time – leggings and a breezy top – that I can quickly throw back on post-pool. Into a tote bag goes a towel, wet bag, diaper and bra. Easy peasy.
Health tip: If your little ones (or you, for that matter) have been sick with diarrhea, skip swimming in favor a dry-land activity. Tiny germs clinging to that little body can easily get in the pool and get other swimmers sick. Pool chemicals kill germs, yep – but they don’t kill all kinds of germs, and they don’t kill germs instantly.
Streamline the pre-pool routine. Our pool has a great locker room with private dressing areas, a restroom and lockers, but it’s a small and crowded commodity. Having everything ready before we even walk in is a lifesaver, so we pull off our clothes, pull out the cloth diaper, stuff our bag in the locker and head to the shower (which my daughter thinks is an extension of the fun pool fountains).
Health tip: Those “shower before swimming” signs at the pool? They’re not a ha-that’s-a-funny joke for kid-wrangling mamas. Think about all the crap (literally and figuratively) on your little one’s skin and hair at any given moment, and wash it off before jumping in. When things like pee, poop, sweat and dirt – and even your own lotions or cosmetics – rinse off in the pool, the pool chemicals waste energy breaking them down instead of focusing on killing germs that could make you sick.
Make a safe splash. Unfortunately, your days of perfecting underwater headstands and styling your slicked-back hair are over. Little kids are slippery and sneaky, and they need your undivided attention in the water – from head to, well, rump.
Safety tip: Don’t leave your child even remotely unattended, even in shallow water. You or another adult should always have full attention on your kiddo, and they should be within arm’s reach of you (at least through preschool age, even if they know how to swim).
Health tip: As cute as it may be to emulate a squirting bath toy, try to teach your kiddo to keep water out of their mouth. That germy diarrhea-water I mentioned? Even just a mouthful of it can make them (or you) sick.
Health tip: Swim diapers are usually required – they’re also a sham. Kind of. If Junior happens to produce a big, solid Baby Ruth if you will in the pool, the dipe will probably have your back for at least long enough to get to a proper changing area. But if Junior makes anything short of that – something less-than-solid, or pee – it’s going to leak out. It happens, sure, and it’s not the end of the world. But the less of that stuff in the water, the lower the chance of getting sick from it. Don’t wait to hear “I have to go potty” – get little kids out of the pool at least every hour for a preventive diaper change.
Get ready before you go home. It might not seem intuitive, but I find getting everyone as clean and dry and dressed as possible before leaving the pool cuts down on the chaos later. I take my daughter right into the shower with me and soap us both up so we can check the “bath” box for the day. We get fully dressed and toss everything into a wet bag so all I have to do when we get home is throw it in the washing machine and go about the day.
Do you have any super swimming hacks to share? How about for the splash pad or water park?