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A number of factors might give parents of infants pause at the pool.
The biggest concern, says Jennifer Shu, pediatrician and coauthor of Heading Home With Your Newborn, is the temperature of the water. Babies get cold very easily and can develop problems like hypothermia and lethargy.
Young babies, who don't have good head control, may inhale water, causing choking, drowning, or – at the very least – irritation of the lungs.
Germs can certainly be an issue if a baby swallows a lot of water. This is especially true if other babies have been in the pool and their poop hasn't been contained well with swim diapers. In addition, the chlorine in pool water can cause skin irritation and rashes, as well as breathing problems similar to an asthma attack.
"There's no exact age when it becomes safe to take a baby into a swimming pool," says Shu, "and I wouldn't tell parents never to take a young baby swimming, as long as they take these factors into consideration. For a rough guideline, though, 6 months and up is a safer time than infancy to take a baby for a dip."