As summer approaches, most kids become increasingly excited about jumping in the pool on a hot day. If you have a baby, toddler or preschooler, it is important to properly prepare them for the upcoming pool days. By following the steps below at each age, your child will be ready to dive in like a pro.
Six Months Old
Test the waters when your child is young to familiarize him with the water. Begin in the bathtub or a kiddie pool so your child can confidently sit up on his or her own. As your infant becomes more comfortable, gently squeeze a sponge over their head so he or she can recognize what water on his face feels like. Slowly add in waterproof toys or play games like peekaboo so your child associates the water with fun experiences.
The highest rate of drowning in a swimming pool happens with children one to four years of age. As your child gets older, take him to a family-swim period so he or she can see everyone having fun in a relaxed kid-friendly environment. Don’t pressure your toddler to get in the water until they’re ready. When that time comes, go into the shallow end together and hold your child under their bottom with one hand, placing the other hand around his back. As your toddler becomes more comfortable, slowly move him throughout the shallow end, constantly reassuring him.
When your child starts to feel at home in the pool, you may consider formal lessons. As you are in the water with your child, help him practice floating, stomach down with his head to the side, outside of the water. Then, have him do the same thing on his back. You can also have your child hold onto the side of the pool and practice kicking.
What Are The Benefits Of Swimming?
Not only is going to the pool a great way to stay cool on a hot summer day, swimming can also be beneficial to the health of your child. Swimming is a great cardiovascular workout, promoting heart and lung health. It also helps to improve strength and flexibility in children.
As one of the most relaxing exercises your child can participate in, swimming can improve your child’s mental and emotional health, which can then improve overall mood and combat depression.
How To Practice Pool Safety
No matter what age your child is, there are some best practices when it comes to pool safety. A young child can drown in as little as one inch of water, so these rules apply to even the smallest of kiddie pools.
- Add fencing around the pool area to keep children away from the water when it’s unattended. Experts recommend a fence that is at least four feet high and includes a childproof latch.
- Make sure to clean up the pool after every single use. Keep all floaties and toys out of the pool after you have gotten out so your child isn’t tempted to head toward the water.
- If you have a portable pool, be sure to put the ladder away so your child doesn’t have access. You may also want to opt for a pool cover to keep kidss out of the pool when you’re not around.
- Enforce rules if you have a pool at home. These can mimic rules you would see at a public pool. Prohibit children from running around the pool, as the deck can be slippery when wet. Make sure all children in the pool know that diving is not allowed in certain (shallow) areas.
- If your child will be swimming at a friend’s or neighbor’s home, contact their parents to ensure an adult will be present.
What To Bring To The Pool
When you are planning to visit a public pool (or even the pool of a friend), it’s important that you pack a proper swim bag so you are prepared for anything that may come up. If you’re planning a trip to the pool, be sure to bring the following items:
- A change of clothes: This is especially important if you’re planning to go anywhere after the pool. Because children will typically be soaking wet after getting out of the pool, having dry clothes to change into can be a lifesaver.
- Sunscreen: Any time your child is going to be outdoors for an extended period of time, it is crucial that you bring sunscreen. Make sure to purchase a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Apply before your child gets in the water to any exposed skin (do not forget ears, backs of knees and hands), then again every 30 minutes. Learn more about the basics of sunscreen here.
- Goggles: Your child’s swim class may require them to wear goggles. Even if this isn’t the case, goggles may be helpful to protect your child’s eyes underwater any time he or she is swimming.
- Towels: It’s a good idea to bring extra towels whenever you go to the pool. While some pools and swim classes provide them, you never know when you may need more!
- Soap: Your child may be required to rinse off prior to and after swim class. If you are simply going to the pool for fun, it may be a good idea to have your child rinse off after a day at the pool. This will also help rinse off all the chlorine from the pool.
- Swim diapers: If your child needs swim diapers, it is a good idea to bring extra pairs. In the case that your child has an accident in the swim diaper, you will be glad you have more!
Medical City Children’s Urgent Care is here for your family’s minor injuries and illness this summer. We are here after hours and on weekends when you need us.