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7 things to remember when poolside with your tot

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Splashing around in the sun with a happy toddler can make some of your holiday's best memories - but only if you make sure it's safe for your little one

A holiday abroad with the kids often involves a hotel or villa pool, and many of us have fond memories of enjoying freedom and fun in the sun when we were little.

It can be a great time for your little one to get more confident in the water, as well as providing enormous amounts of fun while you're there.

However, kids will be kids, and it only takes a curious toddler wandering off towards an unprotected pool for potential disaster to strike. Luckily a few precautionary measures can make all the difference.

1. Get them comfortable in the water

Before you go on holiday, it's a good idea to take your toddlers to swimming lessons for their age group. The increase in swimming lessons for babies and tots has had a direct influence on the reduction in pool drownings, according to WAID (the Water Accident and Incident Database).

As well as being fun for both of you, and providing a good basis for their future fitness, it means they are more likely to be confident in the water and able to rescue themselves from difficult situations. Make sure your choice of instructor has an industry-recognised qualification specific to teaching small children.

2. Get the right kit

Children under four should "double-diaper" for swimming, wearing a special swimming nappy beneath a neoprene nappy with snug waist and leg openings. This will keep the pool clean and safe for everyone else, as well as making swimming comfortable for them.

It's great to stock up on armbands, inflatables, and other pool toys - but keep an eye on them too. Toddlers love to slip off their armbands, and too many toys in the pool at once can make it hard to see what's going on beneath the surface, so keep a minimum in the pool at any one time.

3. Brush up on your first aid

All sorts of things can happen around pools, from slipping over on wet floors to being overwhelmed by the water or waves - even in baby pools. And even if your hotel has lifeguards or other staff, you can't assume that they will be properly trained.

If you haven't already done a baby first-aid course, now is a great time to learn the some of the most valuable skills you can pick up. If you've done a course before, check you're up to date and can remember the most important elements, from choking to broken bones to the worst-case scenario of near-drowning.

4. Check out the pool first

When you're booking a villa or hotel, try to choose one that has barriers to prevent wandering toddlers from getting close to the pool. Whether it's a pool cover or lockable gates, these are essential, because it can only take moments for a child to totter off towards the water.

When you arrive, familiarise yourself with the layout and set-up - how deep is it, which end is deeper, where are the staff, is it rowdy, and is there a baby pool, for example? If you're going to a beach, check out the currents, swimming advice and cleanliness ratings before you venture in.

5. Look after their skin

Children's skin is delicate, and you might think that lovely tan is a sign of health, but in fact childhood sun damage can hugely increase the risk of skin cancers later in life.

They should always wear at least SPF15 waterproof sunscreen, UV-resistant sunglasses and a sunhat. Make sure there's plenty of shade, too, especially between 10am and 4pm, and if you spot any redness get them out of the sun immediately.

Even better, long-sleeved unbleached cotton clothing or special UVP clothing will keep them even healthier.

Skin irritation could be caused by anything from pool water to sun cream, but at least you can keep their clothing and beach towels super-soft and safe for sensitive skin by washing it all in Fairy NonBio.

6. Keep an eye out at all times

Tempting though it might be to start taking selfies or posting pics of your 'Frankfurter legs', or to doze off mid-book, you need to know where your child is at all times when water is involved, especially if the pool is busy.

Don't assume that other people will know what's going on - even if you're not in the pool with them (which for young children you should be), take it in turns with another adult to be 'on watch', so you both get some relaxing time without losing sight of the little ones. They might get tired, overwhelmed, or in other kinds of trouble, so you need to be ready to help them out at any moment.

7. Be vigilant when you arrive and leave

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, a significant number of incidents are reported on the first and last days of holidays. They believe this could be because parents are distracted by arranging travel, and are less vigilant, just at the moment a toddler might want to go off and explore.

Have you got any tips on keeping you tots safe at the pool? Share your experiences in the Comments box below.

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