Taking your children on holiday for the first time is exciting, but can also be a little daunting, and the thought of supervising a small child by a large, busy swimming pool can be quite scary. The majority of holiday accidents occur in the first or last hour at a resort, when parents are most likely to be distracted. A lack of water safety awareness among children can put them at risk on holiday, so it’s important for parents to be well-informed. The expert team at Water Babies offer their top tips for preparing to make a splash…

Before you go…
Use bath-time as a chance to prepare. This time of day creates a fun, aquatic environment and will help your little one thrive in water on holiday, viewing it as something to be enjoyed and loved. This will make the transition to the pool or sea much easier down the line.

– Encourage lots of splashing by playing with toys in the bath.

– Smile, sing and talk to them whilst maintaining lots of reassuring eye contact.

– Wrap them up in a lovely warm towel once bath-time is over to keep them warm and cosy.

Take your time choosing a baby swim school
Enjoy baby swimming lessons in advance of your holiday, so that your little one can become familiar with splashing about in the pool. Teaching babies to swim from birth is a skilled profession, requiring considerable in-depth knowledge. However, there is fairly limited regulation, so it’s vital that you take time to make a well-informed choice about which classes you take your little one to.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A good point of reference is the Baby and Toddler Swimming Teaching Safety Guidelines, which sets out a best practice for all operators, covering everything from pool temperature, to quality of teaching. A good company will be happy to answer any enquiries and help to put your mind at ease.

Create a swimming checklist
This will help you feel confident you have everything you need when you go poolside or to the beach. We recommend the following:

– Swim nappies – it’s best to go for the double nappy system of a disposable or re-usable swim nappy underneath, with a close-fitting neoprene nappy on top – one which fits tightly round the legs and waist to contain any accidents.

– Changing mat – so you can change little one safely and hygienically on the floor

– Snuggly towels – for both baby and you, to help you dry off and stay warm

– Wetsuit – if required (see next tip)

Water temperature
It’s hard to find out the water temperature when you’re on holiday but babies will be happier in warm water, so if you think the water’s likely to be on the chilly side it’s worth investing in a baby wetsuit to keep them comfortable. You can always take it off if they get too hot, but it’s hard to warm up a cold baby. If you’re holidaying somewhere hot and sunny then you might want to choose a wetsuit with UV protection built in.

Be positive
As you enter the pool or sea together, smile and talk to your baby to reassure them it’s a fun experience! It’s really important that you are calm and positive as they’ll take their cues from you. Get your shoulders under the water and hold your baby so the water covers their chest. Alternate between holding your baby very close, with lots of reassuring skin-to-skin contact, then at arm’s length so they can move freely and feel a bit more independent.

Things to look out for
Beaches can be hazardous, always go to beaches where there are lifeguards on patrol and ask the lifeguards where the safest places are to swim. Always supervise your children in the water – even when there are lifeguards on patrol. Check the safety arrangements for the pool, does it have supervision, what do you need to do in an emergency? Always find out how to contact the emergency services at the start of your holiday.

Always actively supervise your children while they are in, on, or near the water. It is vital that any adult caring for a child is water-confident and able to take action in an emergency. If you must leave, even for the shortest time, take your child with you or make sure that another responsible adult is supervising your child around the water. Never leave a young sibling to watch over your child.

Have fun!
Baby swimming is a relaxing and enjoyable activity, perfectly designed to enhance the parent/child bond. Encouraging your little one to have fun in the water will only make their experience better.

To find out more about the benefits of baby swimming and to find your nearest class visit waterbabies.co.uk

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