My answer is THE EARLIER THE BETTER!
Your baby can go swimming at any time from birth. Baby swim classes start at 4-6 weeks. So as a parent, you decide when it is a good time to start.
Developing your baby’s water confidence and learning a new skill is part of your little one’s general physical and emotional development – which I encourage all parents to nurture from birth.
If you want to try on your own – find a suitable pool which has a minimum of 32°C for baby from birth, and 30°C if baby is 12 weeks/12lbs.
As the mother may not be able to accompany baby to pool straight from birth, dads can step in or your trusted baby carer.
If the baby is premature it’s best to check with your health practitioner first. From my research it appears baby doesn’t need vaccinations before getting into pool.
While I was living in beautiful Monaco for a while – absorbing the unique atmosphere of such a lovely corner of the world and learning its story – I was impressed by the charity of Princess Charlene of Monaco, a former Olympic swimmer who represented South Africa in her competitive days. Foundation she set up in 2012 focuses on teaching children swimming, water safety techniques around aquatic environments and sportsmanship.
She “drown proofed” her beautiful kids when they were babies. This means they were trained by professionals in self rescue method, basically teaching little babies how to turn themselves in case they fall into a pool.
Maybe you have heard of IRS. Infant Swimming Resource (ISR) is the product of over 50 years of on-going development in the area of aquatic survival for infants and children. ISR’s primary focus is to teach your child to become a productive swimmer, or floater, in any depth of water. I have noticed that there are mixed feelings about this in public. I must say I personally share Princess Charlene’s view on the subject; however I must emphasize you should seek professional advice or guidance.
If you think baby is not yet strong enough to truly swim, your primary aim at this stage can be to have “drown proofed child”. This will teach your baby to survive in water, turn to his or hers back, breath and float until help arrives.
Babies have a natural affinity with water. They spent nine months in the womb, and after birth still retain natural reflexes that stop them from breathing under water.
Definitely learning to swim is easier before one year of age before the laryngeal reflex disappears. The breath-holding reflex (laryngeal reflex) is activated by the sensation of water on a baby’s face, nose and throat. The reflex is really strong in babies under 6 months and starts to gradually wear off during the second half of the first year of life.
When in the UK some years ago I had my first direct experience with Water Babies. Seems Water Babies are the world’s largest baby swimming company. In the UK alone, they work with over 500 pools and have great reviews. They also have bases in Germany, Canada, China, Ireland and Netherlands. The 30 min class has a lovely structure and teaches babies to swim through SONG, PLAY and REPETITION.
I love to swim. It is one of my favorite ways of motion.
As a baby nanny I have had many opportunities to swim with babies. It is a great and rewarding exercise. Baby is exposed to new stimulus, which in general leads to improved development in all areas and even helps with sleep quality. It is a great time to bond, skin on skin, with dad, mum or carers such as me. My experience tells me to preferably book the time of the swimming class after the morning nap for small babies. Most important for a positive happy outcome is to remember to keep your baby warm! I like to use wetsuit to minimize the risk of baby getting cold in cooler pools, and then straight away to warm shower followed by fast drying. Great hack to use in changing rooms (which sometimes aren’t warm enough) – position the hairdryer (if available in facilities) to blow warm air from safe distance onto your baby’s body, and once dry keep warm in blankets or all zipped up in oncie and hat to get back to warm home. It obviously depends on where you live, but be aware of aircon, cold draft etc…
Regardless of where your baby was born and where you are living now it is highly likely your child would like to swim one day, in sea, lake, pool, river…
I can promise you one thing- watching your little baby actually swimming is an incredible felling. You will be so proud of your baby, and yourself too, for making the decision to start early and invest time into this.
Last note – more practical – you will need some swim nappy (reusable or disposable one), towel, warm hat, possibly changing mat (some better baby swimming places have some on site).
Example of good quality baby wetsuit (watch out for some brands and styles unlike this one- which have Velcro bits too exposed- risking ruining your own swimsuit while holding your baby close to you)
Or for colder pool swim or windy seaside try this one : http://
I like the idea of Reusable Swim Diaper such as these examples-
save your money in the long run and advocate environmental protection, provide a beautiful green future world…
If you opt for disposable, which are really handy on holidays or on the go without possibility/time to wash to reusable type, here are some I used personally.
Have wonderful time in the water!