So long sweet summer… I stumbled upon you and gratefully basked in your rays. Sorry for the throw back Dashboard lyric.
Since I the day I decided to leave the teaching field, summer has not had the same allure. Maybe it is the ghostly white legs I unveil on the occasional weekend or the fact I’ve been so busy working as a physical therapist I have too much adulting to do to just hang out at the pool.
Until the day I had A BABY.
Don’t get me wrong, we are still super busy and it took us a while to get out into the pool (#mombod) but my parents have a stunning pool and beaches in Florida and I make the most of my time there.
As a USS swimmer, swim instructor and swim team coach… I knew my baby had to love the water. Earning my doctorate in physical therapy helps in finding things to do with my sweet 5 month old.
So here we go, on the “first official” day of fall I give you my 5 tips to help a little one love the water.
Tip 1: Be one with the water
Since she was 2 weeks old (A girls gotta wait for that umbilical cord to fall off), we would drizzle water on her head, allowing it to cascade onto her face during bath time. It is important to allow water to run on their ears. At first (and second), they won’t like it but you do it anyways. They will get used to the sensation and eventually not care. Grab a camera, it is hilarious. In my experience, kid who don’t like the water are not fans of water in their ears and on their face.
Tip 2: Beware of the blue
Little babies are super sensitive to water temperatures and can’t regulate their body temperature. Hence why they sell 100 versions of tub thermometers. You don’t need to bring your thermometer to the pool just keep an eye out for toes, fingers and lips turning blue or purple. Take your baby out of the water every 10 -15 minutes to warm up and rest. It is hard work to “swim” and so much external input if bombarding them. A rest will do them good.
Tip 3: Skin to skin for the win
If your baby is getting anxious as you begin to introduce them to the water. Take advantage of everyone being in swim suits and hold them close. Not only will it help with temperature regulation but it will provide a great moment of bonding. If you are a baby wearing fan you can get a water ring sling and wear it in. Our little fell asleep on me when I wore her into the ocean (super calm rolling waves) and it was one of the sweetest sights I ever saw.
Tip 4: Play!
So you dumped water on your babies head for a couple months and are now holding them in a warm-ish pool. Now what?
You play! This is a great time to do tummy time once they have some head control.
-Take a broad grip to their rib cage, hold them at the top of the water and slowly walk backward. Notice your baby is kicking their legs? It’s a reflex. Cool huh? They are “swimming” ** cue the photo op
-Gently bounce in the water, with a broad grip on their ribs slowly lift and lower your baby into and out of the water, perform barrel rolls with them maintaining their heads above the water and a broad grip on their ribs (great ideas to engage vestibular – inner ear- system)
-Float them on their back with support at their bottom and neck. This is why you allow water to run over their ears. Did you do it? They probably will still look at you with furrowed brows.
-Sit with them in shallow water and drizzle water onto their limbs. Watch them watch in amazement and wonder.
-If they are able to sit independently place them in the shallow end sitting between your legs or on your lap. Bring 2 little cups, one with holes punched in the bottom. Let them discover with the concept of water and object permanence. Filling and dumping water on repeat.
Tip 5: Listen to your baby
Are they fussy or tired? Take a break, feed them and watch for signs of dehydration. What you think was a lot of work and what they think was a lot of work are not the same. With anything above try to position yourself at their eye level and keep an excited or calm voice to keep it fun.