Many parents across Ireland are unsure whether it’s safe to take their new born baby swimming before they have been immunised. However recently the Health Service Executive (HSE) National Immunisation Office provided information on their website, immunisation.ie, dispelling any fears parents may have about babies swimming when they are only a few weeks – or even days – old.
Immunisation.ie gives advice about infant inoculations and states: “It is perfectly safe for babies to start swimming from birth before having their immunisations. The diseases babies are vaccinated against are not carried in water. Babies can be taken swimming at any time regardless of where they are with their immunisation schedule.”
Marc and Rita Finegan, from Clondalkin, started taking their son Caoimhín to Water Babies classes in Jigginstown, Naas, when he was just 10 days old. “I only learnt to swim two years ago and wanted to introduce Caoimhín to the water as early as possible,” Marc explains. “We took Caoimhín to his first swimming lesson before he’d had his immunisations. There is a lot of confusing advice out there but we want to reassure other parents that it’s perfectly safe to take babies swimming before they’ve been immunised.
“We are now in the pool four to five times a week as Caoimhín just loves being in water. In fact, our love of swimming has spread through the family and Caoimhín’s grandmother is now learning to swim in her 50’s!”
Carol McNally is used to teaching tiny babies to swim at Water Babies and she explains: “Babies can begin swimming as soon as the parents are ready to bring them. Water Babies has had babies start swimming as young as two days old, however many will usually start at around six weeks old. We do recommend that babies commence lessons before they reach 12 months.”
She adds: “We want all our parents to feel entirely happy and confident when taking their baby to Water Babies classes, so if they have any doubts and want to wait for the immunisations before joining a class, then we completely understand.”
Water Babies offers a highly specialised, progressive programme and teaches over 1,800 babies across Ireland every week. The emphasis in the half-hour sessions is primarily on the bonding experience between the tiny students and their parent or carer and the classes are all about having fun, with activities designed to match each baby’s individual pace. Yet the course does have a very serious safety point to it.
“We believe that by introducing babies to water as early as possible, they’ll be less likely to experience fear – and therefore won’t panic – if they fall in,” says Carol. “With progressive training, babies can be taught lifesaving skills very early on, such as turning onto their backs or, following a sudden submersion, swimming to the nearest solid object. It’s fantastic what vital skills children can learn, and it’s so important that they do.”
Despite their gentle nature, Water Babies sessions also provide a complete physical workout. Studies have shown that participating babies have improved sleeping and eating patterns and flourish with the extra attention they receive which is a definite bonus.
Carol & Therese McNally run Water Babies classes in Dublin, Louth, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow.
For more information on Water Babies classes please call 01-8249987 or visit www.waterbabies.ie.