Benefits of Infant Swimming: When Can A Baby Take Swim Lessons?

Are you planning to take your little one to the pool and give her some swim lessons? Well, that definitely sounds like a fun bonding session. As babies get to splash some water around, they love a good pool time. Additionally, it’s never too soon to start building new skills in your little one. But as a parent, there might be some questions in your mind regarding infant swimming, right? Worry not, we’ve got you covered! Read on to discover at what age your baby can start swimming, the benefits of infant swimming and how to prepare for your baby’s first swim.

When Can Babies Go Swimming for the First Time?

You might be surprised to learn that there is no minimum recommended age for taking your baby to the swimming pool. That’s right, even newborns can start learning to swim.

However, although it’s theoretically possible to start teaching newborn babies to swim from birth, it’s more common for baby swimming lessons to be offered from three months old or a bit later.

There’s no need to rush if you feel your infant isn’t ready yet. As a rough guide, you can usually take your baby swimming when he or she feels more or less comfortable and at home in the water.

Playful, splashy bath times are a great way to help your little one get acquainted with the water before venturing out for you and your baby’s first ‘swim’ together.

It’s not recommended to just jump into the pool with your baby though. Professionally supervised adult and child sessions are the safest way to help your infant get used to being in the water with you and other people. At these sessions, you’ll also learn how to safely support your baby in the water.

To be on the safe side, always check with your doctor before taking the plunge and signing up for baby swimming lessons, and remember to never leave your baby unsupervised in or near water whether it’s the bath at home or the pool at your local aquatics centre.

When Can You Take Your Baby Swimming? Experts recommend that you can start taking your little one to parent-child swimming classes as early as age 1. Because every child is different, though, you may find your little one isn’t ready to start swimming lessons until a little later. It’s important to know that newborns and infants younger than 12 months old aren’t yet able to raise their heads above the water to breathe, so swimming lessons aren’t yet appropriate for them. In your baby’s first year, you might like to do parent-child water play classes with your baby to help him get used to being in water. This can 

  • get him accustomed to being in a pool 

  • be an opportunity for bonding as you play together in the water 

  • help him get over any fears he may have of being in the water. 

When deciding when to start your child on swimming lessons, take into account his 

  • emotional maturity 

  • physical and developmental abilities or limitations 

  • interest in learning to swim 

  • comfort level in water. 

Most children are ready for regular swimming lessons by the age of 4 when they can grasp basic skills such as 

  • floating 

  • treading water 

  • finding a way out of the water. 

If you’re ever unsure when to start your child on swimming lessons, ask your child’s healthcare provider for personalized advice. 

What Are The Benefits Of Infant Swimming?

You might be wondering whether swimming is good for babies or not. Well, it is! If you and your little one enjoy the experience of being in the water, there are plenty of reasons and benefits associated with infant swimming. These benefits are:

  • Improved Coordination and Balance:

    With the water supporting your baby’s body (with a little help from you, of course), he or she is free to focus on maintaining balance. Babies and toddlers who take part in baby swim lessons may also find it easier to develop good motor skills, balance and coordination on dry land too.

  • Muscle Strength:

    Baby swimming is a great way of helping your little water baby strengthen all his or her muscles.

  • Bonding:

    In the swimming pool, all your attention is focused on your baby and there are no distractions. Add the fun of playing and splashing about in the water, and there’s potential for plenty of unforgettable moments together. It’s also a great opportunity for your partner, a grandparent or other close family member to bond with your baby.

  • Exercising the Heart, Lungs and Brain:

    It’s not only muscles and joints that benefit from infant swimming. The exercise your baby gets from moving and floating in the pool strengthens the heart and lungs too. In fact, it can even give brain development a boost.

  • Sound Sleep:

    You might notice an improvement in your baby’s sleep pattern after starting baby swimming – all that splashing about can really tire your child out.

  • Growth in Appetite:

    The combination of gentle exercise and warm water can make your little one hungry. If you aren’t exclusively breastfeeding your infant, have a snack or bottle handy for after the baby swimming session.

  • Confidence in The Water:

    Baby swimming sessions can help your infant build up confidence in and around water. And, if you aren’t a confident swimmer yourself, helping your baby or toddler to explore this new environment may also boost your own water confidence.

How Do You Choose the Right Baby Swimming Lessons?

Good professional supervision is essential, both for safety reasons and to help ensure a positive and enjoyable baby swimming experience for you and your budding mermaid or merman.

To be sure, choose baby swimming lessons run by an instructor who’s been specifically trained to teach babies and toddlers, with a nationally recognised qualification.

The swimming school should also ensure that a trained lifesaver and first-aid provider is available throughout the infant swimming lessons.

Young babies aren’t as good at regulating their own body temperature as older children and adults, so the temperature of the pool is important:

Ask your local aquatics centre if they offer parent-child swimming lessons, or ask your doctor for advice on where to find classes in your area.

What Happens at Baby Swimming Lessons?

At baby swimming lessons a specially trained instructor will use games, songs and other fun activities to help your baby build up confidence and feel comfortable moving around and floating in the water.

You (and/or your partner) will be in the pool as well, to support your baby and share in the aquatic fun. Don’t worry if you aren’t a great swimmer yourself. You won’t need to do any actual swimming – you’ll be there to hold and reassure your little one.

As the weeks and months go by and your child becomes more capable, he or she will gradually be introduced to basic aquatic skills such as floating and moving in the water and getting in and out of the pool safely.

For a more specific idea of what will happen at each lesson, don’t be afraid to ask the instructor for this kind of information. He or she will be able to give you a rough idea of how water skills are taught and built up over time.

What Does a Baby Need for Swimming?

If your little one isn’t potty or toilet-trained, you’ll need to stock up on swim diapers meant for infants. At certain places, you may be asked to use a double nappy system for baby swim lessons. This consists of disposable swim diapers and neoprene diapers worn over the top of this, with the snug-fitting waist and leg cuffs.

Each swimming school and pool may have different requirements, so it’s always best to check in advance what you need to bring and what’s provided by the school. Here are some of the essentials you might need to take with you when you take your baby swimming:

  • Swimming costume or trunks for you (and your child if appropriate/needed)

  • Towels – for you and your baby

  • Swim diapers

  • Nappy changing gear including a changing mat

  • Floats/armbands (unless provided by the swimming school)

  • Swimming cap or hat (if required by the pool)

  • Money/coins for lockers (if needed)

  • Shampoo, shower gel

  • Hair clips/bands (if needed)

  • An after-swim snack or feed for your hungry baby or toddler.

How Do You Ensure Water Safety for Your Child? Providing constant, focused supervision is the most important thing you can do for baby or young child who is learning to swim or is in or near water. Childhood drowning is more common than you might think, and young children can drown in just an inch or two of water. It pays to be extra vigilant when your child is around water. Here are some important steps to take to help keep your child safe when she is swimming or is anywhere near water: 

  • Always give your child your undivided attention. Don’t think that because there’s an on-duty lifeguard by the pool or at the beach that you can read a book or use your smartphone. 

  • Don’t drink alcohol or use drugs when supervising your child 

  • If your child is learning swimming at a younger age, it will be important for you to do “touch supervision,” which entails you being close by or joining her in the pool 

  • Don’t leave your child in the water under the supervision of another child 

  • If you’re hosting or attending a pool party, assign the job of a “water watcher” to someone who can keep a constant eye on the children in the pool. Rotate the job in shifts so someone else can take over the responsibility after a short time. Make sure that the water watcher knows CPR and knows how to swim. 

  • Keep an extra close watch on toddlers and young children between the ages of 1 and 4 as they are at the highest risk of drowning. If your child is in this age range, she’s naturally very curious and can easily sneak away from you even when it’s not swimming time. This is why it’s important to secure your home swimming pool if you have one. 

  • If you’re at the beach, a lake, or a river, make sure your child wears a life jacket that fits properly and has been approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. If your child isn’t a strong swimmer, she may also need to wear a life jacket at the pool or water park. 

  • Be prepared to respond if your little one’s in trouble in the water. It’s a good idea for you to learn CPR and rescue techniques. Classes are available through the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association. Your local fire department and other community organizations may also offer first-aid classes. 

Keep in mind that whenever your child is swimming outdoors you should also make sure that her skin is protected from the harmful effects of the sun with sunscreen. Home Swimming Pool Safety If you have a swimming pool at home, you'll need to follow certain rules while it’s in use and keep it secured when it’s not being used. When your swimming pool is in use, follow these guidelines: 

  • Don’t let children run around the pool or push one another into the pool 

  • Don’t let your child use an inflatable mattress or floating toy, as he may slip off it into deep water or it may deflate unexpectedly, endangering your child’s safety 

  • Make sure that the deep and shallow ends of your pool are marked, and never let your child dive into the shallow end 

  • Remove the pool cover completely before letting anyone swim 

  • Don’t let your child walk on the pool cover while it’s covering the pool, as he could accidentally fall in the pool and get trapped underneath 

  • Make sure your pool’s drain covers are properly maintained, as suction from drains can trap swimmers. You may even consider installing anti-entrapment drain covers 

  • It’s a good idea to have a safety ring connected to a rope or a shepherd’s hook near your swimming pool. 

Here’s how to keep your swimming pool secured when not in use: 

  • Surround your pool (including above-ground and inflatable pools) with a fence on all sides 

  • The fence should be a minimum of four feet high and have no opening in the slats wider than four inches 

  • The gate of the fence should be self-closing and self-latching. The latch should be at least 54 inches above the ground, and the gate should open away from the pool. 

  • Make sure that the gate is always securely locked 

  • It’s a good idea to keep your pool covered, but a pool cover should never replace the use of a fence 

  • Check your local laws to find out whether there are any additional safety requirements for your home swimming pool 

  • Don’t leave toys in or around the pool, as these are enticing to children even when it’s not swimming time 

  • If you have a spa, hot tub, or whirlpool, keep it covered and locked when not in use. Keep in mind that children under the age of 5 should not be allowed to use these to help reduce the risk of drowning or overheating. Also, remember: Never leave your baby or child unattended in the bathtub not even for a moment. 

The Bottom Line

Infant swimming is a great way to build confidence within your baby, thereby enabling him to become a swimming champ! But remember that even though it’s safe to take your little one to the pool at any age, you must check with the baby’s doctor first.

Once you get an all-clear sign from the doctor, your baby is all set for his swim lessons. Mind you, these should be conducted by or under the supervision of a trained professional. With all these points checked out, you and your little one can have lots of fun splashing water around and having the time of your life.

Related Articles:

Related Tools: