Your baby will enjoy her swimming experience and get more from her time in the water if she stays warm. Temperature is important when you take your baby swimming, because children lose body heat quickly when the water is cooler than 85 degrees Fahrenheit, putting them at risk for hypothermia, according to child development experts with the Kids Health website.
Jennifer C. White, director of operations and swim school specialist for Starfish Aquatics Institute, says that the water temperature for babies should be at a minimum 85 degrees and ideally from 87 to 88 degrees. Other factors can affect how warm your baby is while in the water, White explains, including air temperature, swimwear and weather conditions. How often and how much of your baby's body is exposed to the air while swimming also makes a difference, she adds.
Most swimming pools serve multiple populations and strive for a happy medium with water and air temperatures. While this means temperatures may not be ideal, they will most likely be within an acceptable and safe range for swimming with your baby. In a pool where programming includes learn-to-swim programs and recreational swimming, but no high intensity lap swimming or swim team, the USA Swimming website's facilities guidelines recommend a water temperature of 86 to 88 degrees. The ideal air temperature for these activities, suggests USAS, is 82 to 84 degrees, but never higher than 84 degrees, although slightly lower would be considered acceptable.
Outdoor pools in many warm-weather climates are not heated, which means the water temperature cannot be regulated. Cooler night-time air temperatures can result in a drop in water temperature overnight. If this is the case with your pool, it may be best to wait until the sun has warmed the waters before taking your baby swimming. The water in lakes, oceans and other open bodies of water tends to be cooler than swimming pool water, and weather conditions like wind and sun can also affect water and air temperature.
While 85 degrees is the minimum recommended water temperature for swimming with young children, any water that is colder than body temperature can result in heat loss. You can help keep your baby warm in the water with a rash guard, thermal swimsuit or wet suit. Stay low in the water to keep his body -- and yours -- out of the cooler air and away from chilly breezes. If you notice that your baby’s lips are turning blue or he begins to shiver, it’s time to get out of the water and warm up.
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