Can I bring my baby swimming?

- Marie Fortier

Summertime is at our doors and you are wondering if you can take a swim in the lake by the cottage with your new little baby? Here are some recommendations on the subject.

While there is no consensus among health professionals on the issue, there are nonetheless some basic elements that you should know. Babies under one year old are more fragile on certain aspects in relation to the immaturity of their systems, such as:

- Maintaining their body temperature, which makes them more sensitive to sudden changes in temperature,
- At the immune level, their protection against contaminants in the environment is developing, which makes them more susceptible to infections.

In regard to these findings, it is logical to be careful about the microorganisms present in lakes and ponds when swimming with a young child. In addition, the presence of green algae, bacteria, fungi and other pollutants is increasingly being detected, especially during hot weather, which can be harmful not only to babies, but anyone exposed.

Babies can be infected in many ways: by swallowing water, by skin contact or by breathing irritating fumes from a body of water. Gastroenteritis, dermatitis, swimmer's ear infections, allergic reactions or even respiratory infections can follow. For all these reasons, swimming in natural bodies of water is therefore not recommended for an infant (up to one year).

What about the swimming pool at home? With full control over the hygiene of the premises, analytical tests and added products, a 1-month-old baby could bathe with you in the water, provided it is warm enough.

Regarding public swimming pools, it is not suggested to go with a baby younger than a 6-month-old, only because it is impossible for you to check if the level of the antibacterial agents in the water is well controlled and if the chlorine or the salt is found in good quantity to counter the contamination of the water in regard with its very large number of users.

On a final side note, do not forget to avoid the peak sun hours (between 11 am and 3 pm), crowds as well as other forms of protection such as a proper hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, an appropriate swimming jacket according to the age your baby, etc.

There you have it! You are now well-informed on the matter and ready for the summer with the family. Enjoy the good time spent together!

See you soon,

Marie Fortier, the baby expert