If you’re looking for great exercise for your baby, and you’d like to get yourself moving too, baby swimming lessons are the perfect activity. With a focus on fun, we at Kingswim help support you and your infant to have a great time in the pool, while helping your little one build the water skills they need for life.
When can my baby start to learn to swim?
Swim lessons for babies at Kingswim start at 12 weeks of age, but it’s never too early to take a baby into the water, provided you support them and keep them safe.
At 12 weeks, usually parents have had sufficient time to get into the swing of caring for their infant (including remembering what swim items to pack in the baby bag), and mothers have usually had time to recover from birth, before entering the pool with their bubs.
Tips for preparing for a baby swimming lesson
- Ensure your baby is well. If they have any sort of illness, they should recover and be without symptoms for at least 48 hours before attending a pool. This is best for baby, and also prevents the spread of illness to others.
- Either parent (or a guardian) is welcome to be your baby’s support person in the swim class. If you are the birth mother, ensure you have the all-clear from your doctor at your postnatal checkup, before returning to water activities.
- Pack all the usual items you need for your bub (nappies, wipes, formula etc.), and also bring:
- Swim nappies. These are different to regular nappies, which soak up moisture and can become heavy on your baby in the water. Swim nappies are designed to trap moisture in, and are lighter. Paired with a snug baby swimming costume, this can prevent leaks in the pool.
- A hooded towel is great for wrapping your baby in after the class, but any soft towel will do. Babies aren’t able to regulate their body temperature and can quickly become cold, so even in heated pools, it’s important to get them dry and into warm clothes as soon as possible after a swim.
- Be ready to give your baby a feed after a swim. Swimming is hard work for anyone, and babies will crave energy after the class.
- Don’t forget your own gear. Bring your swimsuit, towel and anything else you need. We’d recommend you wear a t-shirt over your bathers so that your baby has something to easily grip onto in the water.
Why swimming is great for your baby
Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise for infants, not only because the buoyancy of water allows them to move their entire body with ease, but also because it’s a fun way for them to bond with you.
In addition, there are many benefits of learning to swim as a baby:
- Swimming allows babies to engage all their senses at once. The sounds of water splashing, the smells and tastes of the pool or the sea, the sensation of water on their body, the sight of water rippling—these all provide a treasure trove for the developing senses.
- Babies love to float! Why? Because it’s one way they can actually move that doesn’t require the strength lifting their head and chest off the floor at home requires. Since it takes between 8 and 12 months for a baby to start crawling, and usually over 10 months before they start standing, your baby’s exercise options are a little limited. That’s why swimming is ideal, as it gives them an opportunity to develop their muscles, and work their cardio-respiratory system in the meantime.
- Swimming has been shown to improve coordination and balance in babies, which is helpful for when they do start crawling, climbing and walking. It’s also said to promote cognitive growth, help strengthen immunity and improve mood.
- Swim lessons give babies the opportunity to meet infants of a similar age and develop social skills in an active setting. (Parents have the opportunity to get out of the house and meet other parents too.)
- Swim classes introduce infants to the water in a safe and supportive way, leading to greater confidence in the water. At the same time, parents are ‘chaperoned’ by a baby swim coach, and learn important information on water safety. It’s also always important to add, proper adult supervision of children around water certainly does reduce any risk, and this is what you will learn at baby swimming lessons.
What happens in a baby swimming lesson?
Firstly, you both get in the water. (If you’re running a bit late, no stress. We here at Kingswim understand.) Once you’re in the water, you’ll be supported by our ‘Baby Whisperers’ who’ll guide you in a relaxed first swim with your little one.
There’ll be games to encourage baby play in the water, advice on how best to support your baby, and tips on how to help your baby develop some rudimentary swimming skills.
You’ll meet other parents with babies of a similar age, and basically have a really nice time connecting with your bub. Baby swim lessons don’t last too long, as babies tire easily in the water.
Doing it alone
If you choose to take your baby for a swim outside of the formal setting of a baby swimming lesson, there are important considerations.
- Water temperature matters. As mentioned, babies can’t regulate their body temperature, so your standard pool is too cold for babies to be immersed for long. That’s why baby swimming lessons take place in warmer pools (Kingswim’s baby classes are held in a pool heated to 32-33 degrees).
Limiting the time your baby is in the water is especially important if you are taking your baby into the sea. A quick dip to show them what it’s like to float or paddle at the water’s edge is ok, but their temperature will drop quickly, so keep it to no more than 5 minutes and get them dry and warm quickly.
- A baby’s skin is ultra sensitive to sun, so if you take your infant for a dip outdoors, remember to protect them with whatever it takes, be it a hat, long-sleeve swim costume, sun cream and eye protection (goggles or sunnies). Also, babies are particularly prone to heat stress, so on warm days, stay in the shade, limit time in the heat and ensure your baby gets plenty of fluids.
- Babies are prone to illness from unclean water. As babies have undeveloped immune systems, rivers, oceans and unclean wading pools can pose risks. Try to keep your baby’s head above water at all times, and check EPA reports for water quality at local beaches.
- Swimming in the outdoors comes with more risk. Oceans and rivers have unpredictable currents. It’s best to avoid deep, and/or murky water, and never leave your infant alone around water.
- Don’t rely on floatation devices. Most of them won’t be suitable for early infants anyway, but even when your baby is big enough, float devices must be used correctly and are no substitute for constant supervision and support in the water.
What you’ll gain from baby swimming lessons
Don’t expect that your baby will learn to swim solo after taking baby swimming classes (there’s plenty of time for that). Instead, aim to have fun, connect with your baby in a healthy and supportive environment, enjoy the opportunity to meet other infants and parents, and instill in your little one a level of comfort with being in the water. After all that, hopefully they’ll take the next steps in their swimming journey with confidence and ease.