Best Ways to Enjoy the Water with Baby

IMG_5449When you have a child who is too young to swim, summers can be a little harder, especially if you have older kids as well. In the summer of 2013, I had 4-year-old, 22-month-old, and 4-month old daughters. We lived in Texas, where it was really too hot to play outside after 8 am. The rest of the year, we were faithfully at the park once a day, every day. There is just nothing like going outside to wear the kids out, promote creative play, and also meet other moms and kids in your area.

So what’s a mom to do? Water play is a great way to wear kids out and kids love the water in the summer time.

Wearing Baby: Mesh slings are a great way to bathe newborns, and also great for the pool or beach. They keep baby close, but free up your hands if you need to be ready to help another child. They also provide a great sense of security for your baby, which can help eliminate fear of the water as they get older.  Plus, you always know where baby is and you can nurse effortlessly anytime.

Baby Float with a Sunshade: These do not work for babies who can’t yet sit independently, but they are a great option for 6 months and up. There are styles that are made completely of plastic like a pool float, and kinds that have a fabric outer covering. I liked the fabric kind better, since it was harder to puncture. The one I bought when my oldest child was a baby still inflated and worked well four summers later when I had my last child.  Definitely use with caution in windy places with strong wind gusts. Babies are not very heavy.

Find a beach or beach-entry pool: Beaches are great since baby can toddle into the water but not be immersed higher than they are comfortable. They enjoy the water splashing around, but can also just play in the sand if they want. Some pools also have beach entrances, and they are a great way to introduce little ones to the water without it being too scary. If you are going somewhere new, most large water recreation areas provide information about which beaches and areas are great for kids. You can also usually call ahead and ask more specific questions if needed.

I was lucky to find a small beach where we live that has a roped off area for swimming, a lifeguard, and is walled off so the kids can’t go far. It also has a playground area, so after beach play, the kids run around on the playground and by the time we get back to the car, they are dry and sand-free. Winning!

Find a splash pad near you: Splash pads have grown in popularity, and are really fun for older kids and younger kids, too, if it’s not too crowded. If your baby is not used to getting splashed in the face, they may not like it as much. They can also be slippery, so if you have a toddler, you may want to grab some water shoes just to make sure your little one has firm footing when they are running around in the water. There are also baby splash pads you can buy for your little one to play on at home.

Set up your own splash park in the yard: There are many great options for water play at your little one’s pace at home. Water tables provide water fun without having to get in. You can fill a wading pool with a few inches of water and throw in some bath toys and also some things that will sink. Or, just go old school and put on the sprinkler.

Enjoy the calming effects of water with your little one this summer. Just don’t forget to invest in a good swim diaper (or three).

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three who loves going to the lake. She lives and writes in Queensbury, New York.

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