By Lauren Soden CYT and AquaBellies Creator, Livingston Scotland
Research conducted by Griffin University in Australia, showed that infants and babies who are taken into the water by their parents, are more advanced in their cognitive and physical developments, compared to their peers. Additionally, the same research also revealed improvements to social skills and baby’s language development.
Time in the water with your newborn is also a fantastic time to bond. The constant guiding, cuddling, and ongoing communication between you and your baby present a fantastic opportunity to relax and play together. It doesn’t have to be about swimming, allowing mum and baby to relax, play and bond together in the water, have huge benefits for all.
Some things you need to know about ‘water bonding’ with your baby:
When can I return to the pool after giving birth?
If you have a vaginal delivery you can return to the pool once you have stopped bleeding and have had your 6 week check with your midwife. If you have had any stitches or a caesarean section you must wait until healed completely and your doctor or midwife has said it is ok to do so to prevent risk of infection.
When can I take my baby to the pool for the first time?
At the moment the department of health states that it is not necessary to await immunisations before swimming, however it is best to check with your GP or midwife if your baby has any medical complications. For a warmer and more relaxing experience it is recommended that you go to a pool with a temperature of 30-32°c.
Getting your baby ready
Taking your baby to the pool for the first time can be a daunting experience. In order to get you and your baby ready you can make bathtime fun-if your little one has a favourite song sing this while in the bath, then repeat the first time you go to the pool. If your little one is breastfed why not share bathtime together and feed your little one in the bath, it can be a bonding experience for you as well as getting your baby used to being in water with you.
First time at the pool
We recommend that you build up your little one’s time in the pool, perhaps keep your first session to 15 minutes and then build up to 30 minutes. Take your time with your visits to the pool. Feeling rushed, stressed or on a time limit could put you under pressure, which could unnecessarily turn a fun family day out into a stressful event! It is important for baby to feel safe and secure in the pool, sometimes the first visit to the pool can be sensory overload for your little one, so that little bit extra love and support from you can make this a relaxing and bonding experience. You can do this easily by keeping eye contact with your baby and talking to them lots, explaining where you are and what you are doing. Baby will pick up on your emotions and facial expressions, so the more relaxed you feel, the more relaxed your baby will be.
What happens if baby swallows water?
In the pool environment it is possible that “slips” do happen where baby is submerged under the water. If this happens simply give baby lots of praise and encouragement and stay calm to show that it is ok. Try saying something like “where did you go?” and keep a relaxed expression on your face so as not to upset baby. Try to keep your little one’s chin above the water to reduce the chances of them swallowing water. Babies have a natural “gag reflex” which will shut off the glottis and epiglottis when water enters the back of babies mouth, preventing water from entering the lungs. This is often why babies can “swim” under water before they have learned to hold their breath! If baby does go under- make sure you gently dry their ears afterwards to prevent any infections. If you think that your little one has swallowed a lot of water or you are in anyway concerned about their health contact the lifeguard on poolside immediately and a relevant medical professional.
What activities can I do with my baby in the pool?
There are lots of things you can do to have fun with baby in the pool, below are three ideas you could try once baby is happy and settled in the pool:
Blowing bubbles- put baby next to your cheek and you can both move through the water blowing bubbles under the water, trying sticking your tongue out or “kissing” the water and see if baby imitates you!
Take your baby’s favourite bath toy- allow it to bob in front of your little one and follow the toy around the pool encouraging baby to splash the toy with their hands or their feet
Sing their favourite song- Babies will love the interaction in the pool, sing their favourite songs and try different gentle actions to entertain them
A bit about us…
Lauren Soden, is the Certified YogaBellies Teacher and Founder of AquaBellies, YogaBellies water based yoga school. Lauren is also a kids yoga teacher, swimming teacher, masseuse and trains all of AquaBellies Instructors personally. Lauren is the mother of one adorable girl and lives in Livingston, Sctoland.
Find out more about YogaBellies [https://www.yogabellies.co.uk]