Posts Tagged ‘swimming’

Summer Pool Safety

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

IMG_1992After a long winter, summer is finally here. In a lot of places though, warm days change pretty quickly into blistering hot days, and staying cool means finding water. Whether splash pad, pool or beach, though, water is also a huge risk, particularly for children. Here are some tips to keep your family safe this summer.

First, if you have a pool in your backyard, you absolutely NEED a 4-foot or higher fence all the way around with a self-closing gate that locks. Most zoning laws will require this, but even if your pool is grandfathered in this is a good idea. It should always be locked when not in use. For owners of both pools and spas, the drain needs to have a drain safety system installed. Without one, the suction from the drain can keep even adults under the water.

If you are out enjoying the water, your baby will need one-on-one adult supervision at all times. Even if your child has had swim lessons, is wearing a life jacket or is in another flotation device, or is just hanging out playing near water, you need to be right there. Often when there are several adults present, it’s easy for everyone to assume someone else is watching the kids. Use a whistle, float, or other item around the pool and have the individual who is watching the children hold that item while they are the “lifeguard.” If they need to answer the phone, leave or attend to another child, have them hand off the responsibility to someone else. Drowning is silent. It’s essential that someone have eyes on the water at all times.

For even younger babies and children (generally 6 months and older), swim lessons are an excellent idea. You will still need to provide direct supervision whenever water is near, but lessons can help children learn to be comfortable in the water and stay safe if an accident were to occur. Water survival courses for babies and toddlers may even be available in your area.

Teaching your children basic pool safety rules is important as well. Knowing that the pool is off limits without an adult and that no running is allowed on the pool deck is something kids should learn before ever entering a pool.

Knowing the signs of drowning and secondary drowning is crucial. Drowning is the second most common cause of accidental death of 1-14 year-olds. Drowning is silent. If a person is drowning, they won’t be able to yell, splash, or wave their arms. They will be under the water and unable to attract attention.

If your child accidentally falls into the water, she may also be susceptible to near drowning, or secondary drowning. This happens hours after the original incident because water left in the lungs causes edema (swelling). Some symptoms to watch for are persistent coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath, lethargy, mood change, and/or fever. This requires medical attention as soon as you notice any symptoms.

Finally, know child and infant CPR. Every parent should take a CPR course and stay up to date on the certification since the science and knowledge about how to best administer emergency care  changes as we learn more about the body. Find a CPR course near you, or even take the course at home with this kit from the American Heart Association.

Please enjoy your summer and make the most of these beautiful days. Just make sure to keep your family safe, particularly around water.

Meaghan Howard is a mom to two little boys, ages 3 and 6. She’s currently enjoying the expat life in Japan.

Best Ways to Enjoy the Water with Baby

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

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.

Three Summer Must-Haves for Baby

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Three Summer Must-Haves for BabySummer presents some new baby-equipment dilemmas: swimming, water, sand, changing clothes on the go. If you’re a first-time mom, figuring it out can take some time. Wet babies are so slippery–wet toddlers are slippery and fast! And don’t get me started on changing diapers at the pool–or pool poop. So let’s make the learning curve a little gentler with this summer primer for all things baby.

Cloth Swim Diapers: Disposable swim diapers are awful. For one, they do not hold in solid waste–not even remotely.  Second, if you do happen to catch #2 in time, disposable swim diapers only come off one way—straight down. Let that process for a moment so you can really take in that visual. Third, disposable swim diapers are seriously expensive. They are OK in a pinch, but I hated them for regular use.

You can buy swim diapers specifically for swimming, and the benefit to these diapers is tight legs and a mesh liner. The tight legs keep anything from escaping, and the liner makes it easy to shake out. They work so well, some pools actually require them to help prevent accidents. These diapers also don’t retain water as much, so you don’t get the “hammer pants” effect when baby is out of the water, and they will dry faster. Another option is using a plain cloth diaper like an All In One with the liner removed. You will have to make sure it’s a tight fit, so older diapers with loose elastic won’t cut it.  The benefit here is that you already have them and it’s one less thing to remember. Velcro does not work very well when wet, so make sure you use one with snaps.

Swim Hat: All my kids are blonde, so hats were a must for us. I also like that you can buy them in UV-blocking materials, which means not having to use sunscreen on little faces and shoulders. I quickly learned with my first child that a regular sun hat does not cut it in the pool. UV and swim hats are made with materials that don’t hold water. When they get wet, the brim stays perky so your child can see. Get a regular hat wet and it’s all floppy and you have one sad baby who can’t see.

Wet Bag: Even if you’ve never used a cloth diaper in your life, you need a wet bag for the summer. The thing about a wet bag is that it keeps wetness and smells trapped in the bag, That’s useful for swimming, potty training, diaper changing, you name it. When we go to the pool or lake, I bring a wet bag and a change of clothes for every kid. When it’s time to go, each kid gets changed into dry clothes before they get in the car, which means no wet seats and no corralling kids into the bathroom first thing when we get home.  I always keep a wet bag in my trunk—you just never know when it will come in handy.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls who love the water. She lives and writes in Queensbury, New York.

Pregnancy Week 15: Exercise

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

This is the best I’ve felt so far during this pregnancy–I’m not nauseated and feeling a little more energetic. Notice I say a “little” more. I would still rather lie around than exercise, but this week it’s on my mind.

Exercise offers so many amazing benefits for your growing baby. It can make your pregnancy easier, help you have a smoother labor, and even help get rid of that extra baby weight more quickly. Here are some of my favorite activities to do while pregnant.


I grew up dancing, so of course I like to get my groove on. Zumba features fun rhythms with Latin and international beats. There are a variety of Zumba classes. The best part of Zumba is that it doesn’t feel like exercise. You can modify any dance move if you are feeling winded or if you’re farther along in your pregnancy. Zumba was actually recommended to me by my midwife to continue during pregnancy. I will be going to these classes as long as this baby allows.

Pregnancy Week 15: Exercise


Any kind of cardio activity such as walking or running is great to do during pregnancy. It isn’t recommended that you begin a running routine during your pregnancy, however. Stick to the pace that you did before baby. Running on a treadmill is fun during the winter, and pushing a jogging stroller during the spring and summer is great exercise. Make sure you have supportive shoes and stick to a walking or running path that isn’t full of hills and traffic. Stick to exercising during daylight hours and bring a friend along. Walking or running with a friend is a great way to de-stress and get in some much needed girl time.


This one is my favorite. I swam laps regularly until 38 weeks with Johanna, and I am planning on swimming as much as I can this pregnancy. The important thing to remember is to use good judgment and don’t zap all of your energy. The water will feel great to you, but don’t overdo it. Stay hydrated, too. Swimming while pregnant increases your circulation and can ease back pain brought on by your growing belly. I definitely recommend a maternity swimsuit. Swim for fun or swim laps. It’s great exercise and a fun family bonding experience.

It’s important to use your head when exercising while pregnant. During my first pregnancy I was registered for a half marathon that would have taken place during my second trimester. After losing a baby, I opted out. If you have previous health concerns, talk to your doctor or midwife before starting an exercise regimen. Pregnancy is not a time to start a new extreme sport. Stick to what you’ve done pre-baby that is safe and makes you feel comfortable.

The best part of exercise for me is that it is my “me time.” Enjoy being active while pregnant!

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of 1 and 1 on-the-way in Indiana. She really enjoys going to the local YMCA and her daughter does, too!