Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Taking Baby for a Swim. Part 1: Brixton Recreation Centre

Most mummies (and daddies too) look forward to the chance of taking their little one down the pool for a splash about. It's great to get the kids confident about swimming from an early age. So finally, health permitted, me, my partner and baby Boo-boo got a chance to go swimming.

So what do you need for a swim:

-The usual for yourself but remember you probably aren't going to have ages in the shower so not worth taking shampoo and anything else.
- Swimsuit for the baby
- Swim nappies for the baby (available at Boots, Mothercare, Superdrug and the Leisure Centre)
- Baby towel and any baby washing stuff
- Clean, normal nappies
- Milk/food/breast for feeding baby after swim

You'll most likely take the baby into the sightly warmer teaching pool. Remember this outing is more about the baby and less about an opportunity to go swimming yourself unless you make an arrangement with your partner.

The question about floats

So we had managed to get most things for the baby for her first swim but wanted to know whether it was essential for the baby to be in there with a floating device. Well, none of the guides said it was essential. And it was actually hard to obtain any - seems any shops presume your child won't go swimming once the sun has gone! The sports centres do seem to sell some equipment (including swim nappies) however the arm bands they were suggesting are more for a person actively participating with the water. I have also been informed that the pool might be able to lend an appropriate float - probably best to ring and ask.

So we decided to not use a float for the moment. Our nearest pool is the Brixton Recreation Centre so once, we found out the times that the pool is open, we set off to dip the baby in the water. The centre is easily accessible with ramps and lifts. We got to the changing rooms and they have a section of their facilities for families. The changing rooms were fairly clean but the toilets were messy and really unusable. We were there on a Saturday so it could just have been a busy afternoon and the cleaning had been overlooked. The baby change which is in the same space as the toilet looked fine.

We bought the pushchair into the changing room to put the baby somewhere whilst we got undressed. The pushchair can then go into a buggy area (leave at your own risk) or if it folds, it can fit into a locker - which is what we did. (And don't forget your £1 coins for the lockers!)

After a little bit of juggling and a few arguments we all managed to be in costume with everything locked away. Now to the pool.

For baby's first swim, choose your timing wisely! The weekend is busy and we had kids constantly running in and out of the pool which could be upsetting for the baby. However, our Boo-boo put on her serious face and played around with the water. She seemed to really like it - lots of splashing and trying to drink the water off her hands. (Ewwwww!!!)

You can stay in the water with the baby up to half an hour and Boo-boo managed about 20 minutes before grumbling a bit. So we went to the family changing areas and I tested the shower which was too hot for the little one so forget washing. We headed back to get dry. Now this is the tricky bit, with buggy folded away, and nowhere to put soaking wet baby, it's hard to manage to get dry. My partner had also decided to go off for a swim and then a shower so I had the loud wailing Boo-boo and a wet me! We figured it out eventually though lets say, we had a few more arguments, some crying from the baby, a feed for the baby and finally we were sorted.

So to sum it up, the first swim has to be finely planned like a military procedure!

Brixton Recreation Centre Information

The Brixton Recreation centre is located at 27 Brixton Station Road  Brixton, SW9 8QQ

At the Brixton Rec, adults (non-members)  pay £4.25 per swim and babies pay £1.85. The Rec can be contacted on 020 7095 5100

The teaching pool doesn't seem to be open for everyone at the moment. So here are the times for the main pool.

Monday  - Friday      7:00 - 10:00pm
Saturday - Sunday    8:00 - 8:00pm

It's always worth phoning the pool to check it's open or that there hasn't been a change to the timetable.


Want to know more about swimming with babies in the Lambeth area and beyond? Read the following:


  1. I went to the pool at the Peckham Pulse the other day. It was utterly great. The hydrotherapy pool was perfectly warm for Sam and he was totally serene and happy.

    Baby swimming is brilliant!

  2. Quick tip I learnt elsewhere and thought I'd share is to put your swimming costume on under your clothes before you go, it can make the whole pre swim change a lot quicker/less stressful. Don't forget to take your underwear to change into afterwards though!