When Can My Baby Go in a Pool?

Mom and baby in a pool

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By the time your new little one arrives, you’re likely prepared for the fact that there are going to be many things they won’t be able to participate in, at least for a few months. But as your baby grows and develops you can begin to introduce them to new activities.

During the warmer months, a dip in the pool can be a cool and refreshing respite for parents. But if you have an infant in tow, even one who isn’t quite ready to slip on floaties yet, it can be tempting to bring them into the shallow end and see what they think of the water.

“I’m a fan of introducing kids to the water early on,” says Rebekah Diamond, MD, a pediatric hospitalist in New York City and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Columbia University. “Getting comfortable with water exploration and water safety helps set the stage the stage for learning to swim later on, which is important.”

As long as you’re taking all the necessary safety precautions, taking your baby in the pool can be fun and a learning experience. Here's what you need to know in order to do so safely.

When Can Babies Go in the Pool?

Although your baby can go in the pool as early as 1 or 2 months old, you may want to wait until they are 6 months old or a little older. Aside from the fact that infants cannot raise their heads, there also is a risk of hypothermia. Water should be at least 89 to 94 degrees Fahrenheit if you do take your baby in the water and you should take them out and wrap in a warm towel as soon as they shiver. Babies lose body heat much quicker than adults.

Additionally, the Skin Cancer Foundation indicates that babies should not wear sunscreen until they are 6 months old. Instead, very young babies should be kept safe from sun exposure through the use of shade and clothing. Regardless of when you take your baby in the pool, make sure you are always taking steps to prevent drowning, such as practicing touch supervision and not relying on flotation devices.

“Many programs offer young children the ability to be in the water starting at 6 months old,” says Adam Katchmarchi, PhD, the executive director of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA). “But the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend swimming lessons for children under the age of one.”

Every baby is different. Be sure to consult with a pediatrician if you have any questions about your infant going into a pool.

Benefits of Going in the Pool with Your Baby

As a new parent heading to the pool, you may not want to sit off to the side with your infant while your friends and family enjoy the water. Bringing your little one into the pool gives you the opportunity to socialize, plus it gives your baby the chance to see other faces and listen to other voices, which is key to the development of their speech and language beginning as young as two months old.

There may also be physical benefits to teaching children to swim from an early age. A Norwegian study that looked at 5-year-olds who had been taught to swim when they were infants found that they had better balance and were better at grasping things than those who hadn’t started swimming as early.

Getting your baby comfortable in the pool as an infant might prevent them from developing a fear of water as they get older, since a large body of water may not seem as mysterious, threatening, and scary.

Safety Precautions

If you’re going to bring your baby for a dip, safety is paramount. “We encourage parents to think about water safety with their children at a very young age,” says Dr. Katchmarchi. “Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children one to four." Here are some of the steps you can take to make sure your baby has a fun and safe experience in the pool.

Practice Touch Supervision

Both Dr. Diamond and Dr. Katchmarchi stress the importance of maintaining contact with your little one. “No matter what age, parents should always practice touch supervision, or holding their child,” Dr. Katchmarchi says.

The AAP recommends staying within arm’s length of your child whenever they are around water. “Even if it’s around an inch of water, such as if your baby is playing near a toy pool or water bucket, babies and toddlers should never be more than an arm’s length away from the adult watching them,” says Dr. Diamond.

Flotation devices should also never be utilized in place of touch supervision. “Floaties and toys are fun, but don’t change anything about this close observation,” Dr. Diamond adds.

Consider Temperature

If you’re taking your baby into the pool with you, think about the temperature of the water and the air first. “Early on, babies are very sensitive to cold and heat, so a lot of limitations in taking them in the pool would have to do with whether it’ll be hard for them to regulate body temperature,” explains Dr. Diamond. “A 'pool' could mean a lot of things, so something that’s more like a warm bath that you take with your baby is a different experience than going to an outdoor unheated pool.”

Indeed, babies can’t regulate their body temperatures as well as adults can. In fact, they can lose heat four times faster than an adult, and water evaporating from wet skin can cause them to lose heat even more quickly.

So when it’s time to take a dip, check the water temperature first and make sure you have a towel close by.

Create Layers of Protection

Putting in place multiple layers of water safety protections will help prevent an accident. “Layers of protection include water safety practices such as the use of barriers and alarms, supervision, and each member of the household gaining water competency, which means being able to avoid, anticipate, and survive drowning situations,” says Dr. Katchmarchi.

As your baby gets older, more of these layers will come into play. “Supervision is a paramount layer of protection,” Dr. Katchmarchi says. “For any child that is mobile, barriers are absolutely critical. A pool is a very attractive environment for young children and drowning happens quickly. It is extremely important to put as many barriers and alarms in place as possible to ensure a child doesn’t unexpectedly end up in an aquatic emergency.”

These barriers may include childproof gates or fences around the pool or pool area, which the AAP says can prevent more than half of all swimming pool drownings in young children, or pool alarms that alert you when someone or something makes contact with the water.

As for water competency, Dr. Katchmarchi suggests starting that process with swimming lessons as soon as the parent and pediatrician agree the child is ready.

A Word From Verywell

Bringing your baby into the pool can mean healthy socializing for you and your little one and potentially keep them from developing a fear of water. But you should only do so if you have multiple water safety measures in place, including practicing touch supervision, making sure the water and air temperature are warm enough for baby, and utilizing gates, fences, and pool alarms to prevent dangerous accidents.

The AAP recommends starting swimming lessons for children beginning at the age of one, but check with your pediatrician to determine the best strategy for you and your baby.

8 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. American Academy of Pediatrics. Swim lessons: When to start and what parents should know.

  3. Skin Cancer Foundation. Bringing up a sun-safe baby.

  4. American Academy of Pediatrics. Swim Lessons: When to Start & What Parents Should Know. Updated March 15, 2019.

  5. NIH National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Speech and Language Developmental Milestones. Updated March 6, 2017.

  6. Sigmundsson H, Hopkins B. Baby swimming: exploring the effects of early intervention on subsequent motor abilitiesChild Care Health Dev. 2010;36(3):428-430. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2214.2009.00990.x

  7. American Academy of Pediatrics. Drowning Prevention for Curious Toddlers: What Parents Need to Know. Updated March 15, 2019.

  8. Stanford Children's Health. Keeping Your Baby Warm. 2021.

Additional Reading

By Alyssa Sybertz
Alyssa has been writing about health and wellness since 2013. Her work has appeared in print in publications like FIRST for Women, Woman's World, and Closer Weekly and online at places like TheHealthy.com, Allrecipes.com, and OnePeloton.com. She is the author of The OMAD Diet and has served as editor-in-chief for two magazines about intermittent fasting.