With warm weather comes swimming season, so keeping baby safe around water is the NEW priority!
If you have a pool or plan to be visiting one or a beach this summer, make sure you consider these water safety tips. A horrible and preventable accident can happen in an instant, in two inches of water. Don’t let it happen to you!
Ideally, you will be versed in baby CPR and lifesaving techniques before you even go out for a day at the shore. But even if you’re not, don’t worry! Prevention is just as if not more important!
Water safety isn’t all about the pool
Babies can drown in very little water, hence why parents are reminded again and again never to leave a baby unattended in a bathtub, even if they’re using a bath ring or other device in the tub.
But have you considered other water hazards in and around your home?
Here are a few that you may want to check:
● Water play table for an older child.
● A spa or hot tub outside. Make sure the top can be locked down and that the lock is working properly.
● The toilet. While this is only applicable when a child becomes mobile, it might be one that you forget by the time that happens!
● Hot water in the home. You can reduce the risk of a baby being scalded by turning down the temperature on your hot water heater to 120 degrees.
● Bird baths or other garden water features. These two require some element of mobility.
● Rain barrels, buckets and watering cans can be other sources of hazard. Make sure they’re empty or the lids are locked down.
In the same way that you would never leave a baby unsupervised in the bathtub, you cannot leave a baby anywhere where they might have access to water, even for a moment or under the care of a child who might not be aware of the consequences of even a little bit of water.
Be prepared at the shore or pool
Sure, you’ve got the sunscreen and the hat, even the baby sunglasses. But do you have a PFD for baby? That’s a Personal Flotation Device, better known as a life jacket. Water wings and other fun floaty toys are just that: fun. They’re not approved as a safety. To keep baby safe while boating or even just hanging out in the pool with you, make sure they’re wearing a PFD.
With PFDs, fit is important. You don’t want to borrow one from an older child and hope that it will make do. If it doesn’t fit, it won’t help baby to float.
Some other ways to keep baby safe at the pool or lakeside?
● Bring your portable playpen with you – if you want to help your other kids for a moment or simply need to have a safe place for baby to nap, you can do so with the comfort of knowing that the baby is safe.
● An alternative to the playpen? Consider buying a small inflatable pool. This works as a perfect playpen at the beach, allowing your baby to have a comfortable, sand free place to rest. Placed under a canopy or umbrella, they will be protected from the sun too!
If you’ve got a pool at home
Most states require a fence around the pool, at a minimum 4’ in height. While that might seem unimportant for a baby, imagine this: a colorful inflatable pool toy has been left within a few feet of the edge of the pool, or worse, floating in the middle of the pool. Baby is on her blanket next to you, but you fall asleep or are reading a book and don’t notice that she has crawled towards the toy, just inside the open fence. It wouldn’t be a far crawl for her to end up in the pool, head first!
And while it’s true that most kids can go underwater for a second and be fine, many also swallow a lot of water, which includes chemicals and some bacteria leading to a gastro bug at best, or dry drowning , at worst.
Even a small toddler pool can be a danger if you’re not watching the kids constantly! Think of the little pool as a bathtub, stay in arm’s reach and never leave baby alone for a second.
If you’ve got a pool at your home, all the adults should be certified in CPR training to ensure that guests and family members are protected in the event of an accident. After all, in the case of water accidents, time is everything. And keep a phone handy when you’re poolside: the last thing you want to have to do is run inside to find it, to call 9-1-1.
Other hazards where water is concerned
1. Don’t forget to reapply sunscreen regularly, particularly if baby has been in the water.
2. Check the water temperature. A pool on a hot, sunny day sounds like a great idea, but if the water is cold (less than 85 degrees, when it comes to babies), it doesn’t take long for their tiny bodies to get chilled. If baby is shivering or if their lips are turning blue, they are getting too cold. Time to head to the deck or beach, get dried off and warmed up!
3. When you’re done swimming for the day, particularly in a public pool or at the beach, don’t forget to rinse off the kids to remove chemicals and bacteria, and pay special attention to drying their ears to avoid ear infections.
4. This one is a hazard for other people! Don’t forget to bring a lot of swim diapers! There is nothing worse than a pool having to be cleared because there’s a lump floating around that no one wants to claim! More importantly, they work best if changed relatively frequently. And if your child is sick, with diarrhea for example, it’s not the time to go swimming at the pool. Those kinds of bacteria, despite chlorine or other chemicals, can still infect others.
Most of these tips are common sense, but they’re worth repeating. Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related deaths in the US for kids between 1 and 3, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Have fun and stay safe this summer and all year long.
Whether your first or your third baby, a postpartum doula or a newborn care specialist can help you and the rest of your family recuperate, regroup and set you on the right foot to being a balanced, happy family, with your latest little one!