The following information will help parents make an informed choice about taking their baby to a swimming pool
Do babies need their immunisations before swimming? No. The advice to wait until baby has had some or all of their immunisations before taking them to the pool, goes back to the days when polio was much more common and we were worried about its spread in swimming pools. This is no longer a concern.
Picture Courtesy of www.waterbaby.co.uk
The vaccines given to young babies protect against:
- Diphtheria, Pertussis, Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) and Men C (Meningococcal group C). These organisms are in the air. Swimming pools do not carry a greater risk of infection
- Tetanus. Tiny spores from this organism exist in the soil and manure, NOT swimming pool water
- Polio. It is extremely unlikely that water will be the means by which this infection gets passed on. It is more likely to be from hands soiled by stools containing the organism. It does get excreted in the stools of babies who have recently had the vaccine but this will not be a threat to others (including babies who have not had the vaccine). The important thing is to take care when using shared facilities to change a nappy and make sure to dispose of soiled nappies carefully.
The above infections are not contracted in the chlorinated water environment of a well-run swimming pool.
What about feeding? You should wait one hour after your babies feed before swimming.
Should baby swim if they are ill? NO! The temperature of the pool, changing rooms and outside are really important, as a baby cannot control their body temperature. Pool water should be at least 30oC. A child who is ill should not be exposed to big swings in temperatures. Take note of the following:
- If your baby has suffered a tummy bug, it is important to wait two days after the first solid movement before going swimming
- Babies with ear infections should not swim
- Dont go swimming with your baby if they have an infectious disease. This includes diarrhoea and a heavy cold
What should my baby wear in the pool? It is more hygienic to put your baby in a swim nappy such as kooshies or aquanappy. It is somewhat essential. It is important remember that stomach and bowel upsets can result if a pool is heavily contaminated with faeces. The following advice should be followed;
- Avoid changing the nappy by the side of the pool
- Dress toddlers in close-fitting swimsuits to better contain faeces
- Occasionally check in their bathers for soiling
- Reduce the risk of accidents by taking children for frequent trips to the toilet
- Don’t rinse hands in the pool water after a trip to the toilet or after changing a child’s nappy. Use warm water and soap.
Are the chemicals in the water harmful to my baby? A baby’s skin is more delicate than an adult’s and the chemicals used to sterilise swimming pool water can irritate the skin and eyes of some babies. Your health visitor will be able to advise you on skin care products.
Where can I get further information about protection for babies?
- Health Visitor or GP