Introducing your baby to new experiences is one of the most rewarding aspects of parenting, and swimming is definitely up there on the list of fun things to try with your little one. After all, most babies love splashing around in the water. But it’s also normal for you to have some reservations about pool safety and have a few questions along the way. For instance, is chlorine safe for babies?
First, it is helpful to understand the role of chlorine in pool sanitization. According to the American Chemistry Council, routine chlorination kills harmful microorganisms that could lead to many health problems, including ear infections, stomach problems, and even athlete’s foot. Just imagine: without proper treatment and circulation, a swimming pool would basically turn into a stagnant pond. So in this light, proper pool sanitization is healthy and necessary.
Although a chlorinated pool may help keep adults and older children safe from sickness, is it safe for your baby? Possibly not. As explained by the Mayo Clinic, infants who are exposed to chlorinated water at a very young age may be at an increased risk of developing lower respiratory tract infections or asthma. Although more research is still required, chlorine byproducts may irritate your baby’s developing lungs, as further noted by the Mayo Clinic. And a 2006 study in Archives of Disease in Childhood found some correlation between infant swimming programs in indoor chlorinated pools and an increase in the babies’ disposition to asthma and recurrent bronchitis. Again, more research is needed to conclusively correlate these findings. But as a parent, it is understandable if you want to err on the side of caution.
Fortunately, there are ways to make your baby’s exposure to chlorinated water safer. If you do opt to use an indoor chlorinated pool, try to find a facility that is well-ventilated by the Centers for Disease Control’s standards. A constant inflow of outside air can help dissipate the potentially harmful chlorine byproducts. In addition, you can check in with your doctor or other trusted child care providers to recommend a baby-friendly pool facility in your area. If you would rather avoid chlorinated pools altogether, then you can take a tip from Parenting and try to find a pool that uses an ozone filter, which can sanitize water without producing chlorinated by-products. In general, there are many ways to safely introduce your baby to the joys of swimming.