Swim Essentials for Babies and Toddlers

Baby-swimmingby Janet Grischy

This summer, beaches and backyards everywhere will be full of swimming babies. Get your kids ready for summer so they can play, too. Babies need swimsuits and swimming diapers, and toddlers need new swimsuits suits, too. You’ll want to protect your toddler’s skin with sunscreen and sun hats, though. Choose some fresh play clothes, too — outfits made for the beach or a day at the lake.

Essentials for baby

Joe-Boxer-baby-girl-swimsuitBabies love the water, at least after that first cold shock. And they’re so adorable in their first swimsuit, you’ll want to take lots of pictures. With a baby less than 6 months old, though, be sure to hit the beach only before 10 o’clock or after 4, when the sunlight isn’t as intense. Take clothes that give lots of coverage but are thin and cool.

It’s a good idea to take a sun-blocking beach umbrella. Sometimes you can rent them at the beach, but not always. A good umbrella or beach shelter shades the whole family and gives you a bit of privacy, too, even on a crowded beach. Whether you have an umbrella or not, be sure to slather on the sunscreen, once your child is 6 months old. Sunburn is painful, and a bad one can be dangerous.

Swim basics for baby

Step-2-Waterwheel-Kiddie-PoolWith a baby less than a year old, you might be happier in a backyard wading pool, because your baby can splash in the shade, and there’s no pale sand reflecting sun into her eyes. You still need sunblock, though, once your baby is 6 months old, and it’s always best to put it on at least half an hour before you go outside.

An inflatable pool is a safe place for a first swim for baby, although you still have to stay watchful, of course. These pools come in all sizes and shapes, and they’re easy to store for next year.

Swimming toddlers

Joe-Boxer-toddler-boy-swimsuitToddlers are old enough for the water park, with supervision. Most parks have pools and slides reserved for little ones, but call and check to be sure. Kids love the water park, and it really wears them out, so they’ll sleep like lambs.

Take cute swimsuits, dry clothes and flip-flops (or sandals) to protect little feet. If it’s nearby, let the kids wear their suits to the park. That allows you to put on sunblock at home. Park water is heavily treated, to disinfect it. Get goggles to keep your child’s eyes from stinging if they’re sensitive to chlorine.

Remember hats and towels, snacks, drinks and a tote bag or two to put it all in, so you don’t spend all day running to the car.


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