All about Baby Swimming

    Search Small Steps Parenting
    Why Baby Swimming?

    Really the question should be why not Baby Swimming? Swimming is fantastic activity for you and your little one to do together and you can start almost from birth! From just a few weeks old your baby can be on the road to a healthy active lifestyle developing confidence and life-saving skills all while spending precious quality time with mum or dad.

    Swimming is an incredibly effective way to help your baby develop. As well as exercising all the parts of their body in the warm water, swimming will help develop their balance, coordination and motor skills as well as regulating and improving their eating and sleeping patterns. It’s great for mental development too!

    Tamsin Brewis who runs Water Babies baby swimming classes in the Northampton area explains;
    Whilst the emphasis in our sessions is very clearly on strengthening your bond with your baby, having fun and increasing both you and your baby’s confidence, swimming from birth is also excellent for a baby’s development. Whilst being very gentle, it provides a complete physical workout, strengthening the heart, lungs and respiratory system which, in turn, aids development of the brain.”

    Water safety is also key and many parents feel extra safe knowing that their child is learning the skills needed to save themselves if they do fall into water.

    How old does my baby have to be before I can take them swimming?

    As a general guideline, it is recommended that 12 weeks or 12lbs (whichever comes first) is the point when your baby can start swimming. Babies can swim before this in warm water pools (over 30 degrees) if they wear a wetsuit, and can swim from birth in hydrotherapy pools (around 33 degrees). Obviously all babies are different, so if you have any particular concerns about starting your baby swimming, do seek advise you on whether you should wait a bit longer.

    Baby swimming and immunisations

    It is completely safe to take your baby swimming before they have had their first set of injections.

    There was a time when the Polio vaccine was live, meaning there was a possibility that the disease could be spread if a baby excreted in a pool (there has never a recorded incident), however the vaccine is no longer live therefore this is no longer the case.

    The other thing to remember is that the viruses that your baby is being immunised against are all airborne, so going swimming is no different to going to your local soft play centre or even visiting a friend.

    The department of health recommend that you take your child swimming from a baby, regardless of whether they have had their jabs or not.

    For more information, you can also read the NHS guidelines.

    At Water Babies, they ask that a premature baby, (over six weeks), does have their first set of injections before swimming , just to allow their immune system to have a boost, but otherwise, they go come swimming too.

    Should my baby just wear a swimming nappy in the pool?

    A disposable swim nappy alone will not prevent any accidents from leaking out in to the pool. A double nappy system should be used in classes, consisting of a disposable swim nappy, or reusable equivalent, underneath (i.e. Huggies’ Little Swimmers®) with a SplashAbout® Happy Nappy over the top – which should keep everything well and truly retained!

    I can’t swim. Can I still teach my baby how to swim?

    This predicament is more common than you might think, for the reason being that this is one of the biggest motivations for parents enrolling onto baby swimming classes. Many parents go to such lengths to ensure that their children are not burdened with the same disadvantage, even if it means that they must face their own fears to do so.

    If you are one of these parents, Tamsin would like to help ease your worries so you can take the step to teach your child a life saving skill:
    • Water Babies instructors have taught many parents who cannot swim themselves to teach their babies the skill. They are very aware that there will always be some apprehensive mums starting each term and are trained to give you the support you need.

    • You are well within your depth in a Water Babies class. We teach in pools that are shallow enough to allow you to stand at all with the water being anything from hip to waist deep (0.8-1.2 metres). You will never be asked to go out of your depth during a lesson.

    • The Water Babies beginner’s course is a very gentle introduction to the water for you and your baby. You will be supporting your baby in the water and will not need to know how to swim yourself. Our instructors will take things slowly with you and you will never be expected to do anything that you are not comfortable with. If activities are taking place that you are unsure of, your Water Babies instructor is there to do them for you so that you do not miss out!

    • After a few sessions, most parents who were once fearful of the water actually find that they have progressed a great deal themselves. It is a wonderful bonding experience for both you and your baby to have been introduced gently to the water together, both becoming comfortable at the same pace.
    If you are still making the decision about whether to join a Baby Swimming class and would like to talk to someone in more detail, please don’t hesitate to contact your local Water Babies office for some advice.

    See you in the pool!

    Water Babies hold local classes across the country. For more information, visit or contact 01295 709211.
    Register With Small Steps Parenting