Heading to the pool with a baby or toddler can be filled with trepidation – how will they behave? What should you pack? What will the facilities be like? Will the staff be understanding? Suddenly, popping to the local leisure centre is an operation requiring military precision.
Not so at Center Parcs.
We understand your concerns, so we’ve designed the experience of the Subtropical Swimming Paradise to be as easy as possible. With these tips, you’ll have a happy and hassle-free trip to the pool with your little ones, whether it’s their first time or fiftieth time in the water.
Meet our expert: Sean
Sean Murphy has been part of the Center Parcs team for 27 years. He’s now the Subtropical Swimming Paradise Manager at Elveden Forest. Having seen thousands of families come and go over the years, his tips come from a wealth of experience.
1 Packing for the pool
Top of the list to remember for little ones, of course, is swim nappies. For toddlers and older children, arm bands and goggles will make everyone’s lives easier. Towels with hoods are also great for making changing time into a game.
2 Forget anything?
Don’t stress, just pop to Aquatique, our one-stop swimming shop. There’s nappies, toys, inflatables, costumes, caps and goggles – there’s even a free goggle-fitting service to make sure they won’t leak in the pool.
3 Changing rooms
The battle of the changing room can be the most dreaded part of the whole trip if you have little ones in tow. So to make it a breeze, we have family changing rooms that you can all use together, complete with changing table. Hassle = gone.
4 Get comfortable
“We have a great way to introduce young ones to the water,” says Sean. “Our free Baby Dolphins activity runs before the pool opens while it’s quiet, and introduces babies and toddlers to the water and the Subtropical Swimming Paradise before it gets busy.”
5 Taking the plunge
You made it here. You got everyone changed without a hitch. Now what do you do? There are toddler and children’s areas at all our Villages, as well as shallow areas in the main pools, and Lazy Rivers to bob around. “Venture Cove at Elveden Forest is a favourite with guests,” explains Sean. “It’s enclosed with warmer, shallower water. It’s perfect for toddling and splashing, with lots of bits to explore.”
6 Need a hand?
“We have a team of almost 90 lifeguards in total,” says Sean of the Subtropical Swimming Paradise at Elveden Forest. “They’ll keep you safe, offer advice and give you directions. Just ask!”
7 Take a break
As little ones get over-excited and over-tired, wouldn’t it be great to have somewhere private to relax for a while? Hire a family cabana at any of our Villages for your own enclosed space with free soft drinks, comfy seating and a television. They’re the perfect place to rest and recuperate with a snack before you head back to the pool.
8 Making memories
“Most public pools these days have ban photography,” explains Sean, which means you miss out on capturing those memories. But we know how important that is to you, so not only do we allow photography of your own group, we also have roaming photographers who’ll happily take professional snaps of you and your little ones that you can purchase.
9 All the family
If there are family members in your group who aren’t big swimmers, they’re still more than welcome to join in the fun and grab a chair at the poolside. “We just recommend you wear swimming clothes,” says Sean. “After all, it’s 29.5°C, it gets warm!”
10 Snack attack
Swimming makes little ones hungry, but you don’t have to pack up your things and leave if you need a bite to eat, explains Sean: “Starbucks and The Canopy Café and Bar are right by the poolside, serving hot and cold drinks, snacks and baby food.”
11 In the water
Did you know that experts advise it’s safe to take your baby into a pool from just six weeks old? Babies have a natural affinity for water and in instinct to hold their breath if needs be. For their first time, it’s important to give lots of praise and eye contact. You could practise blowing bubbles under the water together.
12 Quiet time
Our final tip is for families looking for a quieter pool experience. “Our quietest times are early in the morning,” says Sean, “or after 5pm.”
Do you have any tips of your own with little ones in the Subtropical Swimming Paradise? Share them below.