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Can I Take My Baby or Child Swimming When They Are Ill?

Girl with runny nose

Young children often get coughs, colds, and sniffles – sometimes many times a year – because their immune systems are still developing and these types of viruses are always evolving and include many different strains.
 
It usually takes a lot more than a common cold to slow down a toddler or young child and they’ll most likely remain keen to continue swimming even when they’re feeling under the weather.
 
The big question is 'Can I still take my child swimming if he or she is ill'? The answer is 'It depends on the symptoms'.

Head colds and swimming

If your child has a head cold (with symptoms including a sore throat, headache, runny nose and earache) then you can still take them swimming if they feel up to it, although rest, extra liquids and warmth is usually a better idea to aid fast recovery.
 
Warning: if you do decide to take your child swimming with a mild illness, it is still important to take steps to prevent them spreading germs to others. Avoid close contact with others or letting them share pool toys.  Take some wet wipes and leave them poolside so that you can wipe runny noses!  If you're going to baby swimming lessons, the teacher will often have some wet wipes on the side for just this purpose.

It will be really important to keep their heads warm when they get out of the water, so take along a snuggly hooded towel, such as those from Cuddledry.

Conclusion: If your child’s symptoms are confined to the head and throat then moderate exercise such as swimming is usually considered to be OK.

Illnesses with more severe symptoms

If your child has some of the above symptoms but they are accompanied by a high fever, swollen glands, a chesty cough and aching muscles, then it highly advisable that you keep them at home until their symptoms begin to clear or go away altogether. If your child’s cold symptoms also include diarrhoea then it is essential you do not let them swim, not even with a swim nappy.

Persisting with swimming lessons or trips to the pool while your child is this sick could end up delaying recovery and potentially spreading the virus to others. Besides, illnesses like this can often leave your child with very low levels of energy, making swimming potentially dangerous.

Conclusion: If your child’s symptoms include 'the runs' and a high temperature, they need to stay clear of the water until they have recovered.

When can they start swimming again?

Once your child’s symptoms start to clear and he or she is no longer contagious (usually after three to four days of illness) then you can start to reintroduce swimming sessions to the routine again. By then your child will hopefully be feeling much more energetic and will no longer pose a risk to others.

It’s a common myth that the chlorine in a swimming pool will kill all germs, this is not the case. While it does help kill the majority of dangerous germs, you cannot guarantee it will kill everything, which is precisely why it’s better to err on the side of caution, even with something as common as a cold.

Psst! You can always try substituting an extra fun playtime bath if they’re still really keen for a bit of a splash about!

splash in the bath with your child if they are too ill to swim 

Important note: The above points are only guidelines. It is essential that you consult your child’s doctor before taking them swimming while ill.

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