Baby Nurse Question: I’ve heard babies can drown in even the smallest amounts of water. I will obviously always be right by my baby while bathing this summer but are there any other extra precautions I should take? 

You bring up such an important point and are right to seek out additional measures of precaution. A drowning risk is present in as little as an inch of water, especially when it comes to babies. A good rule of thumb is to generally avoid any sort of non-bath water situations (even if swimming in your arms) until your baby has fully mastered head control at around five months. And you’ll want to make sure your baby is completely stable sitting up independently before putting him to play in a kiddie/wading pool or at the shore of a pond or lake.


Safety Tips

-Avoid allowing your baby’s head to become submerged below water, unless participating in a swim class run by certified instructors.

-Empty any pools or containers (including toddler bath tubs) when done using and ensure any full-sized swimming pools are surrounded by a locked gate

-Never take your eyes off of your baby while around water

-There are many “swim” support products out there that can serve as extra protection (small life vests, bathing suits with built in buoyancy, etc.) But always stay wary when using swim and flotation devices–they can create a false sense of security and nothing can take the place of constant supervision!

-If your baby is mobile via crawling or walking, get in the habit of verbally reinforcing water safety rules (staying in a specified spot, avoid drinking water, etc.)

-Being at the beach can be a wonderful experience for you and your baby but it also poses some extra risks, with waves and tides constantly changing. Be extra vigilant of the water’s patterns and temperature and sit as close as possible so you’ll be able to hold on tight, should a surprise wave come ashore.

-You may have already become certified in infant/child CPR and first aid but if not, it’s something I highly recommend that parents  do. You should be ready at a moment’s notice to aid your child best you can in a medical emergency. Would  you hire a child care provider that wasn’t certified?

-As I mentioned here, you always want to make sure you put sun screen on your baby (if over 6 months old or if you can not keep him covered and protected with long sleeves and hat)

Great Ways to play

Once you’ve covered your safety bases, relax and let your baby enjoy the water! Here are a few ways you can do that all summer long:
-Fill your kiddie pool or tub with three to four inches of water and get in with your baby. If she can not yet sit up unassisted, sit behind her to support her while she plays
-Get a sprinkler and adjust the water pressure according to your baby’s age (non-mobile babies can enjoy water falling lightly on their hands or legs, and crawlers and walkers love going in and out of longer/higher streams of water
-If you’re at a pool or lake with your baby, you can stay cool and play with your baby sitting upright in a flotation device (many come with great sun shields) as long as you are right there with your arms supporting.