Taking a baby swimming for the first time is an exciting event in parenthood. I have been dying to take Leo swimming for a long time, but due to lockdown, I wasn’t able to. When swimming pools and indoor activities started up again, I got myself onto a Waterbabies waiting list. It wasn’t long before I was called and told there was a baby swim class with space for me in the nearby town of Selby.
I was then sent a welcome pack via email and then it dawned on me – I have no idea what I need to take a baby swimming! I mean, I had heard of those swim nappies you can get but apart from that, I wasn’t sure! So I spent the morning Googling ‘what do I need to take a baby swimming’ and ‘swimsuits for baby boys’.
With so many options out there, I didn’t know what to get and I did get a few things that I regret. So I’m here to help you avoid making the mistakes I made and get you and your baby ready for your first baby swim class or session.
Why should you take your baby swimming?
Swimming is an amazing experience you can share with your baby! Babies spend 9 months in your womb, so babies are already used to the water. It’s a warm, supportive environment for them. Babies love water, splashing about and it’s a great way to exercise and get them to move their little bodies! Babies can move freely in water in a way they wouldn’t be able to do in their first year, so this helps them develop crucial higher brain functions, core muscle development and coordination earlier.
It provides a complete physical workout for your baby and regular swimming can help improve babies sleeping and eating patterns. It also helps them understand and respond to keywords (asking if they are ready to go underwater) so increases their mental ability, awareness, understanding and communication. Encouraging regular exercise from a young age is a great way to instil a healthy routine and healthy habits.
It’s also a great bonding experience as there’s lots of eye content and skin to skin contact and helps you and your baby feel relaxed and confident in the water. It is a fun activity for both the parent and baby.
What you need for taking a baby swimming.
There’s are the things I bought and used for taking Leo swimming!
These are simple enough – I got the Huggies swim nappies from Tesco. You can get them in most supermarkets. Just like normal nappies, they are sized depending on the weight of your baby. The ones I got were different to the nappy size he usually wears as the brands do vary slightly. So don’t forget to check the weight of each size before buying rather than assume that it will just be the same!
Someone had mentioned Happy Nappy’s to me before. Washable swim nappies. I had assumed they we the only thing you need, but you actually need a swim nappy under them.
The Happy Nappy is quite tight around the stomach and legs so if your baby poos and escapes the swim nappy, it keeps it inside the Happy Nappy.
In Waterbabie’s swim lessons you have to have a Happy Nappy as if a baby gets poo in the pool, then it has to be evacuated. The swimming pool we go to, if this happens, then it can’t be used for 48 hours!
Leo was 5 months when I ordered our Happy Nappy so I ordered the 6-12 month one. This was a bit of a mistake as it was really tight on him! I then measured his thighs and waist. It turns out he needed a 1-2 year happy nappy because of his chubby thighs!
So don’t be like me, check the size of your baby before ordering a swim nappy!
A baby wrap is basically a baby wetsuit. It’s recommended to use one as it keeps your babies core body temperature up in the water. It opens completely flat and then wraps around your baby with velcro. You can get them to match your Happy Nappy! It’s made from 2mm thick neoprene and also offers UPF 50+ protection from the sun if you were to use them on holiday.
Before I knew about the Happy Happy and Wrap, I bought a baby swimsuit or H&M. I was a bit annoyed with myself about it! But I’ve decided to keep it to use it in the paddling pool in summer asI really like it!
I got the swim wrap that matches Leo’s Happy Nappy from Amazon.
A neoprene changing mat.
I got a Konfidence neoprene swim mat as it’s naturally antibacterial and can be easily wiped. It provides a soft surface for changing your baby to be changed on and can be rolled up and put in the side pocket of your bag. As it’s not made of plastic, it’s warm too. I must have for us as Leo hates the cold!
The adults have to wear a swim hat in our group. We all hate it, but it’s got to be done, I’m not sure why as we don’t put our head in the water. I’ve not worn a swim hat since I was a child and was part of a swimming club! I had to buy a new one and ended up buying a Speedo swim hat for long hair.
This is the long hair swim cap I bought!
Of course, you need a towel for both you and the baby. I take this hooded wrap towel from Cotton and Olive for Leo and for myself, I just take a big bath sheet.
A baby can get a bit cold after swimming, so bring a hat to put on their head to keep them warm and snuggly after!
Big changing bag.
I have two changing bags for Leo, a big holdall and a rucksack style one. For swimming I take the big one. I manage to get most things in it and usually put the towels in a carrier a bag.
This is the changing bag I have! I love it!
I take Leo swimming in a vest and baby grow and put him in it when we get out. There’s also a spare set in the bag in case of any poo accidents on the way, but I feel a baby grow suit is just easier to change into and warmer for him than faffing about with proper clothes.
Some of the mums with younger babies take blankets and put them over their baby while they get dressed, but Leo would kick that off, so I take a rattle for him to play with while I get changed.
I’m not posh when it comes to this, I just take a supermarket carrier bag. I then put all the wet things in here after!
Obviously, you need your own swimsuit. you have to go ‘swim ready’ – meaning you should be wearing your swimming costume under your clothes. Which I would have done anyway! I just take a change of underwear for after.
Our experience swimming.
As this was the first taking baby swimming, I was a bit anxious about the whole thing. Going anywhere with a baby is stressful! I was worried about planning it around naps and feeds. I was also worried about the parking situation if I’d be able to feed him after the lesson and if I was able to take the pushchair in. As carrying a heavy baby and all of our things is NOT easy!
Getting Ready for swimming!
I organised the bag the day before and got everything ready. As the lesson was at 10 am and they told us to get there 10 minutes before. I planned to set off at 9:15 am. So I didn’t have much time to get sorted as I wanted to give Leo an extra feed before we set off.
I organised the bag so it would be as easy as possible to get Leo ready when we got there. All I had to do was take my dress off, but I needed to fully change Leo.
I put his swim nappy inside a nappy bag, then put his Happy Nappy and Wrap all together in the side pocket. That meant I could easily get them, put the nappy he was wearing inside the nappy bag and we were good to go! I also put his towels in the plastic bag so I could get to that quickly when we were done.
When I got there, someone was waiting at the gate for us to tell us where to park. Our swimming pool is a private pool that is attached to a cottage. The cottage is rented out as an Air BnB, this meant there wasn’t much parking and we all had to block each other in. I was the first to arrive so was the most blocked in. I took Leo and his bags into the changing room and the women explained the Covid measures in place.
The room we were in was just like a wet room and you have to change the baby on the floor. So I put my changing mat down and changed Leo, then got myself ready.
Waterbabies Swim Class
Then we went into the swimming pool. It was really warm in there! We left our bags by the side of the pool and the instructor was just finishing the other class. She then instructed us how to get into the swimming pool safely with the baby and we started the lesson.
We did a few different positions with the baby swimming, some songs, bouncing up and down and this thing where we say their name and ask if they are ready and then put water on their face. This is to get them ready to know there’s going to be water on their face for when they go underwater. He wasn’t a fan of this! He loved bouncing up and down though and swimming on his front, but doesn’t like it on his back!
The swimming lesson was 30 minutes long and went by quickly. We all got out safely and went to the changing rooms. This is when it was a bit of a disaster for us. As I expected, he cried! He does the same when he gets out of the bath at home. It was stressful as he was crying while I was knelt down on the floor in my wet swimming costume. The floor was wet and it wasn’t comfy!
I got dressed as quick as possible, then said bye to the other mums and left as soon as I could. Luckily, as I was the one totally blocked in, I could sit in the car with him and breastfeed him. Then I put him in his car seat and drove home.
We’ve had 3 swimming lessons now. On the second one, we went underwater! Leo looked a bit shocked after. He was so cute though, as his hair is really long, it covered his eyes when he came up haha!
On the third lesson, we went underwater three times! We were really grumpy getting changed that day, but sadly I was blocking two other cars in so I couldn’t feed him in the car. I had to put him in the car seat and he was crying, but thankfully he fell asleep, or I would have pulled over.
What’s next for us?
I do like the Waterbabies swim lessons, but it’s quite expensive to say the facilities aren’t that good! They don’t have their prices online but my swimming lessons cost £99 for 5 lessons. That’s £20 for a 30-minute session. I think if there was a car park so I knew I could feed him after, or proper showers/facilities to get changed in I might feel a bit differently about it.
We have to come home and then I feed him, he naps and we both have a bath together so it ends up being a full day thing. I wish we could just have a shower there. I believe the prices are all different depending on location. There’s only 4 in our group, with a capacity of 5 which is why I think it’s expensive.
I’m now on a waiting list for Paddleducks. It’s closer to home and they have a carpark to the one I’ve signed up to. Also, it’s £13.50 for a lesson, which is much better! If you are looking for baby swimming lessons for your little one, then do check out Paddleducks as they do have their prices online.
So that’s everything I have to say about taking a baby swimming for the first time at the moment, haha! I’ll do an update in a few months when I’ve been to Paddleducks and see how it compares to Waterbabies. I think both will be good programs, it’s just the facilities at the different pools and prices that will be different.
If you are taking a baby swimming soon, hope you found this helpful!
Check out some of my other baby essential posts:
- Hospital bag essentials
- Third-trimester essentials
- Breastfeeding essentials
- Weaning essentials
- What maternity clothes do I really need?