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How to prepare your baby for swimming lessons

Section: Baby
Water babies

It’s no surprise that your baby loves being in the water. After all, they spent nine months suspended in fluid in the womb so the liberating sensation of floating freely is a familiar environment. 

To make sure their first experience is as magical as possible, the UK’s biggest baby and toddler swim school Water Babies has some top tips on ways to prepare them for that all important first visit to the pool.

Use bath time to get your baby used to water

Make sure bath time is a fun time of day, as this will help your little one to thrive in water, viewing it as something to be enjoyed and loved. This will make the transition to the pool much easier.

Top bath time tips:

  • Encourage lots of splashing by playing with toys. Smile at your baby, sing and talk to them whilst maintaining reassuring eye contact.
  • If you feel comfortable doing so, feed your baby in the bath to reinforce a safe and nurturing association with water.
  • Wrap them in a lovely warm towel once bath time is over so your little one learns to associate getting out of water as warm and calm.

Your first visit to the swimming pool

Whether you’re taking your baby to the pool on your own, or to structured classes like Water Babies, make sure your first visit is a positive, gentle introduction to this multi-sensory world.

  • Get your baby used to the environment: Even if you have signed up to swimming lessons, try to take your baby to the pool before the first lesson. Spend time with them on the side getting them used to the noises, colours, splashing and general hubbub of the of the pool. Swimming pools are often a loud, busy environment so it’s good to give your baby an extra chance to get used to it.
  • Check the pool temperature: It should be at least 32 degrees if your baby is under three-months-old or weighs less than 12lbs and 30 degrees if they are older or heavier. It might be worth investing in a baby wetsuit if you’re worried about your little one getting cold in the pool.
  • Reassure your baby when they first enter the water: Smile and talk to your baby, and reassure them it’s a fun experience. It’s really important that you are calm and positive as they’ll take their cues from you.
  • Alternate your hold on your baby: Throughout the session, alternate between holding your baby very close with reassuring skin-to-skin contact, then at arm’s length so they can move freely and feel more independent.
  • Remember babies tire easily in water: Restrict your first visit to around 20-30 minutes and make sure you have a warm towel for afterwards. It’s normal for your baby to be hungry and tired after swimming and want a little sleep.

Your baby swimming checklist:

  • Swimming nappies: It’s worth checking the pool’s policy beforehand, which may include an over nappy as well as a reusable swim nappy.
  • Changing mat: So that you can change your baby safely on the floor rather than a bench.
  • Snuggly towels: For both you and your baby, to help you dry off and stay warm.
  • A wetsuit: If the temperature of the pool requires.
  • A cosy hat: To keep your baby warm after the lesson.


Water BabiesFind out more about baby swimming classes near you at Water Babies