Babies and Swimming Pools

Children’s swimming pools    Swimming lessons for babies

Babies and Swimming PoolsThe 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.

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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
  • Don t 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


Data Source:
Public Health Department May 2004

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Drowning prevention tips for swimming pool owners


  • Never leave a child/children unattended in the water or pool area for any reason. Don’t be distracted by doorbells phone calls chores or conversations. If you must leave the pool area take the child/children with you making sure the pool gate latches securely when it closes.

  • Always keep your eyes on the child or children. Designate a child watcher whether you or someone else when you attend a party or have friends or family over.

  • Talk with baby-sitters about pool safety supervision and drowning prevention.

  • Post rules such as “No running ” “No pushing ” “No dunking” and “Never swim alone.” Enforce the rules for children of any age.

  • Don’t rely on swimming lessons or “floaties” to protect your children in the water.

  • Don’t assume that drowning or a drowning incident couldn’t happen to you or your family.

  • Don’t have a false sense of security just because you think your pool area and home are secure. Always watch your children whether in the house or outside.

  • Attend a CPR class. Make sure your baby-sitter knows CPR.

  • For the nearest cardiopulmonary resuscitation class contact your fire department Red Cross or hospital.

  • Encourage your neighbors to follow pool safety guidelines including keeping their back gates and doors locked and their pool gates securely closed and latched.


For a printable brochure on “Water Safety ” Click    

CPR for infants


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