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Infant Swim Lessons: 7 Tips to Help you Prepare

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Water Safety for Babies

Can I be totally honest with you?

The thought of drowning absolutely scares me because I’m one of 54% of Americans that don’t know how to swim! Don’t worry I plan on fixing this soon!!!!

I keep picturing my baby falling in the deep end of a pool or being swept up by a wave in the ocean and not being able to save her. It’s terrifying.

Be honest, the thought of your baby accidentally falling into water makes your heart skip a beat too, even if you know how to swim.

So, I bet you can imagine that it was very important to me that my daughter take infant swim lessons. It’s not that I expect her to learn how to “swim” right now. It’s more about her being comfortable in water. By exposing her to water early, I hope to prevent her from developing a fear of water later.

I get it, not everyone is onboard with baby swimming lessons. There was a time when I didn’t see the point myself. But now I’m so happy we did it.

Keep reading and I’ll share with you the benefits of infant swimming, how to get baby comfortable in water, and what you’ll need for your first lesson.

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What is the minimum age for swimming lessons?

Most of the programs start at 6 months but some start as early as 4 months. We started when she was 8 months. Mommy wasn’t interested in swimming in the winter months!

I didn’t really know what to expect at the first lesson but I did take one crucial step to prepare beforehand:

Introduce baby to water from birth

Many believe that babies are born knowing how to swim. After all, they did spend 40 weeks in amniotic fluid! Although they have certain reflexes (diving reflex & ability to kick arms and legs when placed tummy down in water) they can’t swim!

They aren’t born fearful of water, which is great. I watched as my baby received her first bath and hair wash. She was happy. The water seemed to soothe her. I didn’t want her to loose that.

She started getting baths once the stump from her umbilical cord fell off. I made sure to always allow her face to get wet. As she got older, I would pour water over her face and made a game out of it.

I used a bath toy from this set when initially sprinkling water on her. Turns out, they used something very similar in swim lessons.

Does early water exposure pay off?

By the time we started swim lessons, she was already comfortable with water. She had never been fully submerged, but she was used to water in her eyes and ears.

This paid off big time. She was submerged for 1 second on her first lesson. Mommy was nervous but baby thrived. She loved it!

I truly believe exposing her to water early and continuously made a big difference.

Private swim lessons or parent child swim lessons?

This really just depends on you and what you want your baby to get out of the lessons.

We started with the parent child swim lessons because they were more affordable and my goal for the baby was water comfort. I could have done without getting in the water but I did enjoy being in there with her. It was also great to meeting and getting to know other new moms.

Now, my daughter is a toddler and she’s taking private lessons. It’s very expensive but my goals are different. This time I want her to start swimming.

Once you’ve made the decision to start infant swim lessons, here is what you will need:

1. Swim Bag

I was the mom that brought several diaper bags. I decided to dedicate one as her swim bag. It makes it easy to prep the night before because all of her essential items stay in there.

I keep extra diapers and wipes along with a moisturizer. My baby has eczema so I have to keep her skin moisturized.

2. Swim Suit for Baby and Swim Suit for Mommy

This is pretty self explanatory. I was able to score a nice swim suit for me from Amazon.

As a woman who had given birth fairly recently, I was self conscious about my midsection. I wanted something that was going to cover my stomach!

There were other considerations as well. My baby is breastfed and will go after the breast if it’s accessible. I needed a swim suit that was going to hide my boobs.

The swim suit I chose covered my belly and my boobs without hiding that I was a woman. I love it and still wear it to swim lessons.

For the baby, I wanted something that was going to be easy on and easy off. I’d heard other moms talking about the long sleeve swim suits.  This wasn’t on my radar because we were indoors. After experiencing the temperature change getting out of the pool, it made more sense.

The baby has several swimsuits. I use them for both swim lessons and water play at daycare. For that reason I went with all rash guard swim suits.

3. Swim Diaper for Baby

The swim school requires a permanent swim diaper. They are great for keeping poop in but offers no protection when baby pees.

They are not disposable. If baby poops, you will have a mess on your hands when you remove the diaper. Ask me how I know! Needless to say, that diaper became disposable.

Now I put pamper’s splashers on her first with the permanent swim diaper on top. This way if she pees it’s contained. If she poops, I can still use my permanent swim diaper again.

4. Towel for Baby and Towel for Mommy

Once we get out of the warm pool and leave the water area, it feels like it’s freezing. If I feel like I’m freezing, the baby is feeling the same.

Typically I wrap her in her towel first and then wrap my towel around both of us. It still feels cold, but the shock isn’t as bad.

5. Plastic Bag

The first time we went to swim lessons, I felt very prepared. I thought I’d thought of everything! Once I got our wet clothes off I realized I had no place to put them.

Now I use a plastic bag left over from the grocery store. It’s perfect for wet clothing. When we get home I hang the wet clothes to dry and recycle the bag.

6. Changing Pad for Baby

They have a changing table for the baby at our swim school. I don’t feel comfortable laying my baby directly on that surface. Her changing pad is dedicated to her swim bag so I know it’s always there.

The changing pad allows me to get the wet towel off of her quickly. I immediately lay her down and place the towel in the bag.

7. Flip Flops for Mommy

You can’t wear flip flops in the pool but I don’t like my feet touching public surfaces. I’m able to wear the flip flops into the pool area and leave them until I get out. It makes me feel less icky.

If  you’ll be taking the baby solo, you’ll have to be a little crafty and very organized!

How to get organized for baby swim lessons

If I’m coming from home, I’ll wear my swimsuit under my regular clothing. If you do this, you’ll have to remember to pack a bra and under wear for later. I almost forgot once!

I like doing this because I don’t have to worry about getting me and baby dressed. Most times, I’m coming from work so this doesn’t help.

One time I tried getting baby ready before we got to the swim school. It totally backfired on me. She decided to poop before the lesson started. This was before I started using the pampers splashers in conjunction with the permanent swim pamper. Now, I just get her dressed when we get there.

When it’s just the two of us, I get her ready first. Then I let her nurse for a little bit.

Technically you don’t want your baby to have a full stomach before swim lessons.

I don’t let her get full. But if I don’t let her nurse first, it will be an unpleasant experience for everyone!

After she nurses I get myself ready. When swim is over, I get her ready first and then dress myself. I leave her strapped to the changing table until I’m finished.  So far this routine has worked really well for us.

Are swim lessons good for baby?

A 2009 study conducted by Brenner RA, et al found an 88% reduction in drowning risk in children 1-4 who had taken swim lessons. That’s significant enough for me!

Remember I’m no expert, just a fellow mom sharing her experiences. But, I do believe swim lessons are great for a baby.

If you are looking for a place, be sure to check out your local YMCA.

All in all, I’m really happy I decided to do infant swim lessons. It’s such a joy seeing how much she loves the water. She’s making great progress and increasing her breath hold. It’s amazing to see how fast they learn and how much they retain from week to week.

Surprisingly it’s been a great bonding experience for us as well. I have also met and formed relationships with the other moms which is an added bonus. You can never have too many mom friends!!!

If you are looking for a group of mom’s to befriend, be sure to check out and join our Facebook Group.


Are you considering infant swim lessons for you baby? Or, has your baby taken infant swim lesson? What was your experience?

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6 thoughts on “Infant Swim Lessons: 7 Tips to Help you Prepare”

  1. Great article! As a former water babies instructor and now a parent that’s taught my own child to swim, I couldn’t agree more with these tips!

  2. I loved your post! My mother taught me how to swim before I could walk, so I can definitely relate to what you are saying!

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