Take baby swimming: Taking your baby swimming for the first time: top tips | Baby & toddler, Getting out & about with your baby articles & support

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Taking your baby swimming for the first time: top tips | Baby & toddler, Getting out & about with your baby articles & support

They’re small, slippery, and frankly, it’s messy enough swimming on your own. But don’t despair. Here’s how to ace your first swimming trip with a baby…

Swim nappies are a must

No baby is going to enjoy the experience if they’re waterlogged in their standard nappy. Most pools wouldn’t allow them in wearing those anyway.

Instead, buy specific swim nappies – available in most big supermarkets or chemists – and a suitable swimsuit, trunks or wetsuit. Then you’re good to go.

Go prepped

Make sure you have everything you need before you leave the house. For example, towels and nappies (swim and regular). Some parents also get their own swimming costume on under their clothes too. But note: do not forget to take your own underwear. Many a parent has been there, doing the dash home without the underwear.

Get yourself changed first

It can seem like the right thing to do is to put your baby into their nappy while you’re dripping chlorinated water all over them and shivering in your swimsuit. Otherwise, you must be a truly selfish parent, surely. Incorrect.

Take it from us: it is in no way selfish. It’s sensible to wrap them in a big, warm towel while you get yourself sorted first. You can sort them out when you’re dry and dressed.

Think about a proper baby class

There are many organisations that run classes just for babies. They can be a bit pricey but they’re held in warm pools. See what’s running in your local area or ask other parents for recommendations.

These classes will help to guide your baby at the right pace in the water. They also do other handy stuff like having changing mats on the side of the pool for if your baby has a mid-swim accident.

Find out about toddler sessions at your local swimming pool

If you don’t go to an organised class, most swimming pools run toddler and child sessions. They make taking your child in the pool a bit easier and a lot more fun than a standard swim with those nonstop length swimmers.

Take a dressing gown or poncho towel for your older baby

If you’re taking your newborn baby swimming, a large towel with a hood to swaddle them in will do fine. But if you’re taking an older baby who will shrug or wriggle a towel off, go for a dressing gown or a poncho towel. You can slip poncho towels over their heads to keep them on.

Keep the dressing gown or poncho at the poolside. That means you can peel off their top layer as soon as you get out of the water. They’ll be happy and warm in their poncho or gown with their swim nappy underneath for five minutes until you’re sorted.

Try to time it well

It’s often easier said than done with small babies but it’s best to take your baby swimming when they’re fed, rested and not unwell. They’ll have a better experience of swimming this way and be much more likely to love it.

Take their favourite bath toy

Babies will take to the pool a lot more quickly if there’s something familiar there. So think about taking their favourite bath duck, watering can or cup with you.

Further information

Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.

You might find attending one of our Early Days groups helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.

Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.

To find out more about swimming with your baby, visit Swimming.org.

Information you can trust from NCT

When it comes to content, our aim is simple: every parent should have access to information they can trust.

All of our articles have been thoroughly researched and are based on the latest evidence from reputable and robust sources. We create our articles with NCT antenatal teachers, postnatal leaders and breastfeeding counsellors, as well as academics and representatives from relevant organisations and charities.

Read more about our editorial review process.

A guide to baby swimming with advice from Rebecca Adlington | Baby

With babies spending nine months suspended in fluid, it’s no surprise that they love the sensation of being in the water and you’re probably wondering when you can take your baby swimming for the first time. Whether you’re already thinking about baby swimming lessons or are keen to know when your baby can actually go swimming, as well what baby should wear when swimming, then this guide will make sure you’re fully prepared for the experience.

We’ve also got all the expert tips and advice from Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington, who has shared her top tips for taking your baby swimming, as well as her advice for helping your little one love the water, with the help of her experience from when her daughter Summer was a baby.

When can babies go swimming?

According to the NHS, ‘You can take your baby swimming at any age, both before and after they have been vaccinated. It does not matter if they have not yet completed their course of vaccinations.’ So really, the choice is completely yours. While you might not feel comfortable taking them to a big indoor water park just yet, many pools and leisure centres offer quiet and calm baby swim sessions.

«I first took Summer swimming when she was three and a half weeks old. It sounds really early, but it’s fine for your baby to go in the pool at that age. Lots of people were shocked when I said I’d taken her swimming before she’d had all her baby vaccinations, but the NHS guidelines say that you don’t have to wait until your baby’s had them,» explains Rebecca.

«Most baby swimming classes won’t take you if your baby hasn’t had her jabs, but to be honest you don’t need to go to a class the first few times, as you’re only in the pool for about 10 minutes.»

If you’re recovering from a c-section or a difficult birth, it’s best to wait until after you’ve had your six-week check before going in yourself, but encourage your partner to take your baby.

M&B expert Alison Duff, director of Calma Baby, a swimming facility for pregnancy to preschool in Cambridgeshire, (calmababy.com), says: «Although babies can go swimming at any age because public pools are busy and noisy, you may want to start the process of preparing your newborn baby for swimming at home. A relaxing bath with him the day after birth can be a wonderful welcome to the world.»

Getting your baby used to the water at home

• Fill the bath 20cm to 30cm deep with warm water at 32°C to 33°C, and ensure the bathroom is warm (above 24°C). Get in the tub and have someone pass you your baby. Spend some time cuddling him on your chest and enjoying the skin-on-skin contact.

• Then try laying your baby on their back. Cradle them initially, keeping them close to you and bringing their hands to the midline of their chest. If they’re happy, gradually lessen the amount of support and offer them the freedom to float with you, placing one hand under their head, and the other under their bottom. Let his ears submerge and use just enough support to stop their head sinking underwater. Take a breath, relax your arms and shoulders and let them float.

• Trust your instincts about how your baby responds to the experience and adjust the position or amount of support you’re giving them as necessary. Ten minutes of fun in the bath is plenty for the first session.

Typical responses to newborn floating can be intense eye contact, kicking, wriggling, smiling, crying and even complete stillness. But don’t worry if your first session isn’t a wonderful experience. If your baby cries then get out, wrap him in a warm towel and try again another time.

Benefits of baby swimming

If your baby enjoys their time in the water then that’s great, as Swim England share plenty of benefits to them having a splash about:

• It strengthens their little muscles

• It improves their balance, coordination and their motor skills

• A great time for you and your baby to bond

• Improves their sleeping pattern

• Improves their appetite (all that splashing about is hard work)

• Builds water confidence

Baby swimming lessons

If you would like some in-person support when taking your baby swimming, why not see if your pool offers swimming lessons or classes? It’s a lovely chance to meet other parents and for your youngster to see other babies in the same situation as her.

Make sure the lessons you pick are run by an instructor with a national recognised qualification and who has been trained specifically to teach babies and toddlers. This is not only important for your baby’s safety, but to also make sure they have a positive pool experience.

There are also plenty of swimming programmes available especially for babies all around the country. Here are a few you might want to look into:

• Turtle Tots

• Water Babies

• Aquatots

• Puddle Ducks

• Little Dippers

If you’re confident enough to visit a public pool check the temperature is no less than 32°C and choose a quiet time. If your baby is unsettled, keep them close, use a rhythmic bobbing motion and ensure their ears are submerged when back floating to help filter out any noise.

If your baby was born prematurely, then be sure to consult your health professional before visiting a public pool.

What do I need to take my baby swimming?

• Swim nappies

• A swimming costume

• A soft baby towel

• A snack if your baby is weaning (swimming is hungry work)

• A bottle of milk if you’re bottle-feeding

• A changing mat and your changing bag

Things to think about beforehand

• Find out what’s at your local pool. «I’d been to ours loads, so I knew it was warm enough and had baby-changing facilities,» says Rebecca. «If you haven’t been before, ring first or pop down and have a look. It makes it less daunting when you take your baby for the first time. Also, ask what the temperature of the water is. It needs to be at least 32˚C for young babies under three months.»

• Don’t be put off if you don’t have anyone to go with. «I often took Summer on my own and it’s absolutely fine!» says Rebecca.

• It’s also worth asking for a swimming timetable. There’ll be all sorts of stuff going on, including toddler sessions, inflatable sessions and even music sessions. Different experiences will mean your baby will do different things. Perhaps they’ll need to hold their breath or blow bubbles, and they’ll be so involved they won’t even realise they’re learning.

Baby swimming tips from Rebecca Adlington

1. Getting your baby into the pool

Most baby pools have big steps that go straight into the water, so it’s easy to carry your baby into the pool. When you go down the steps, hold your baby in a sitting position with their chest against yours, and support their bum with one hand and, if they’re really little, hold their head and neck with the other. Just treat it the same as carrying your baby downstairs at home.

2. How to hold your baby in the pool

If your baby’s facing outwards they’re going to think, ‘Where are you taking me?’ If they can make eye contact with you, they’ll know everything’s fine because they can see you’re relaxed. Keep smiling and say, ‘Where are we?’, so they know it’s OK. If the pool doesn’t have wide steps then, depending on how confident you are in the water and the age of your baby, gently lay them on the side of the pool (make sure you have a towel with you to put down first), then slip in the water and quickly pick them up again. If you don’t feel confident, or the pool only has steep steps, ask the pool attendant for help.

To start with, keep your baby on their back, as it’s how they are in the bath, so the pool will feel like a similar environment. Make sure your baby’s head is supported by your arm, and cradle their back and bum with your hands. It’s important that they feel safe in the water, so cradle their body close to you, so they can see you. Chat to your baby all the time to reassure them.

Encourage your baby to experience buoyancy

«Stand behind your baby, so their head is resting on your chest. Put your hands under their back, so the rest of their body is floating. They’ll soon begin to move their arms and legs about and enjoy the feeling,» reassures Rebecca. «Let them float on their back at first, so they can see you. Summer preferred being on her front when she was crawling. To support her, I put a hand under her tummy and one under her chin, so her face didn’t go in the water.»

3. Getting your baby used to the water

Building water confidence before your baby hits the pool will make the transition easier.

Let your baby get used to the feeling of water on their face when they’re in the bath by gently trickling it over their head. «Summer had a toy that rains water and we took it in the bath every single night to trickle water over her head and face,» says Rebecca.

To try it when you’re in the pool, sit on the steps and put your baby on your knee and hold them around their waist so they’re facing towards you. Let water trickle off your fingertips onto their head. Even wetting your hand and rubbing it against their cheek will get them used to the sensation. «When Summer was older, I would dip her and quickly lift her back up, so she felt confident having her whole head underwater,» says Rebecca.

Once your baby is comfortable floating, try putting their ears under the water. The best way to do this is to hold them lengthways across your body with one hand under their head and one supporting their bum. Slowly lower their head so their ears are underwater. It’s a new sensation for babies, as the water muffles their hearing.

«We practised by putting Summer’s ears underwater in the bath. She wasn’t sure at first, so don’t worry if your baby is a bit squirmy: they’re just trying to suss out what’s going on. Try it for a couple of seconds to get them used to the feeling,» reassures Rebecca. «It’s a really good way to prepare them for putting their head fully under the water. Just keep reassuring them with lots of eye contact and encouraging smiles.»

4. If your baby is unsure of the water

If your baby gets distressed once they’re in the pool, there’s usually a reason why this happens. Maybe it’s too cold for them or something else is going on like they’re hungry or needs a poo. If they cry, hold them close and let them see you, so they feels safe. They’re probably getting grumbly because they’re ready for a feed, so don’t assume they don’t like the pool.

5. Getting out of the pool

Babies soon get tired when they’re in the pool, so don’t keep them in for too long. Ten minutes is about the right amount of time in the water when they’re under three months, then build to around 20-30 minutes when they’re about six months. It’s best to get out the same way you got in, so hold them close to your chest, with your arms around them and carry them up the steps. Wrap your baby in a towel as soon as they get out, so they don’t get cold.

Fun games to play in the water with your baby

Blowing bubbles

Encouraging your baby to blow bubbles in the water with you is great fun and a good way to help them feel confident putting their face in the water. Becky explains, “The best time to introduce this game is once your baby can hold their head up and is confident floating on their back. Place them gently on their front facing you and hold them under their arms, then blow bubbles in the water and encourage them to copy you.”

Lifting games

Holding your baby under both arms is ideal for playing lifting games, says Becky. “Summer loved it when I lifted her up onto the side of the pool then back down into the water. You could put a towel down on the side of the pool so it’s not too cold. You can also lift your baby up and down in the water as they’ll love the motion and it will help them get used to the sensation of being in and out of the water.

Splashing in the water

“Summer really liked splashing and smacking the water with her hands, which helped her get used to the texture of the water, as well as helping her feel happier getting water splashed on her face.

“I held her around her waist with both hands so she was facing me. This helped us keep eye contact, which was reassuring for her, and also left her with both hands-free to splash about.”

About the expert

Gold medal winning Olympic Swimmer, Rebecca Adlington runs her own swim school for kids aged 3-11. She also has two young children of her own, both of whom she has taught to swim.

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Swim before you walk: all about baby swimming

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October 03, 2017

Blog for parents

Why is baby swimming so important? What are the benefits of classes and what are the pitfalls? We analyze all the nuances and aspects of this exciting process together with Olga Filina, the swimming coach of the Magis Children club.


The benefits of baby swimming leave no doubt. Swimming baby develops all major systems of the body: cardiovascular, respiratory, muscular, nervous. Swimming stimulates blood circulation and strengthens the child’s immunity. Children who are accustomed to water from an early age are distinguished by stronger immunity and physical endurance.

Learning to swim at an early age is an excellent prevention of scoliosis, posture disorders, and muscular dystonia. In addition, swimming gives the child pleasure and joy, and also affects the development of personal qualities: discipline, self-control, courage, determination, independence. Children who swim from birth are more sociable. Psychologists have established that children, diving and swimming at a depth, overcoming the water column, develop in themselves such personality traits as purposefulness, determination and courage.


Children who go in for swimming at an early age harden their bodies. The water temperature in the baby pool is 36 degrees. Gradually, the children move into the pool with a temperature of 32 degrees. How exactly does this happen? Of course, smoothly and gradually. We advise parents to combine pool activities with swimming at home. When the baby has been swimming in the pool for up to three months, studying at home, the parents gradually make the temperature lower, gradually lowering it from 36 to 32 degrees. This process lasts about 2 weeks, then the children move to a small pool with a lower temperature, and a hardening effect occurs. It is important to follow all hygiene rules after being in the pool: wipe the whole body dry, especially the ears, dress the child warmly, do not walk in the wind and do not get caught in drafts. Then the child will in no case get sick after classes in the pool.


There are several stages of development and strengthening of children’s immunity. The first stage is from 0 to 1 month, the second stage is from 2 to 3 years, and the third stage is at the age of 6-7 years. This is the time when children, in principle, begin to get sick, regardless of whether they go to the pool or not. And swimming is exactly the tool that will allow the child to get sick much less often due to hardening and general strengthening of the body.


Baby swimming can be practiced at home approximately 7 days after birth. In the pool, a child can start exercising when his umbilical wound has completely healed: depending on the characteristics of the body, this happens after 3 weeks — 1.5 months.

The most comfortable age to start classes is 1.5 — 3 months, when the child has not yet lost the unconditioned swimming reflex. From 3 to 6 months, this reflex fades.


For swimming in the pool, you need to take a special swim diaper, a diaper for changing clothes on the changing table, a towel. When the baby’s hair begins to grow, you need to take a bathing cap to class. In groups of advanced infant swimming, children who have been practicing in the pool from the first months wear swimming goggles from the age of 4 months.


The main task of infant swimming, in addition to health improvement, is the acquisition by the child of the skill of independent swimming. It can be easily mastered up to 1 year if you start practicing from birth. By 4-5 months, the child can begin to swim independently and without support.


Like any activity, it is built from a warm-up, main part and a cool-down. At the warm-up, we do special rocking exercises and prepare the child’s body for the main part of the lesson. The structure of the main part of the classes includes a set of exercises for all muscle groups, swimming on the stomach, on the back and diving (diving). In the final part of the lesson, we do relaxing exercises, hydromassage, massage with special balls.


  • First, be guided by the territorial features: a big plus is the pool’s walking distance.
  • The second important point is the choice of a coach. Before choosing someone, study it — according to reviews on websites and social networks (many trainers maintain their own blogs and pages), according to the recommendations of parents with experience, according to information about the achievements of the trainer presented on the swimming pool sites. It is important to study the trainer before training with the baby so that you do not have to change the teacher if you do not like his teaching method. Beforehand, be sure to meet with the coach and talk with him about what his methodology is, how many years he has been practicing teaching infant swimming, what are the principles of his life. Align your training goals with the goals that the trainer sets in his classes.
  • The third point is the technical conditions in the pool, hygiene and water purification system. The safest water purification systems do not use chlorine, which is not found in every pool.


When you enroll your child in the pool, find out which water treatment system is used in it. As we have already mentioned, the safest water purification system is without chlorine, which, for example, is used in Magis Children pools. Water is disinfected around the clock with an ultraviolet lamp, quartz lamps, and is processed with a sand filter. In addition, the Italian HTH water quality control system is installed in our pools: every two minutes a sample of water from the pool is taken and its quality is determined. The system automatically adjusts the quality level: thanks to a perfect filtration system, the water is completely renewed once every 30 minutes. Every day, 30% of the water in the pool is drained and the water is manually cleaned by technical staff: special reagents are added and water is added to the desired level. Water is taken daily for chlorine content: it is always 0.


Toddler session lasts 30 minutes. To achieve your goals, you need a system and regularity of visits: 2-3 times a week. If the training is prescribed by the doctor as the minimum course that you need to complete for recovery, we also recommend that you complete a full course with a frequency of visits 2-3 times a week.


The main focus of the baby’s activities with his mother is to support tactile contact. Often mum’s group sessions are seen as helping with the transition from swimming at home to swimming in the pool. With mom, you can get the initial swimming skill, a lot of useful emotions, and start getting used to the water. The first crisis, which happens when a child is teething, is much easier if the child is engaged with his mother. Since mom is not a professional swim teacher, naturally, the best results can only be achieved with a personal trainer.

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9 essential things for baby swimming to take to the pool — Parents.

ru 8 months, the baby, although splashing in the water, is always in the arms of his mother (father), therefore, for example, he does not need armlets. But starting from 8 months, when the connection between the child and the parent is already quite close (early swimming helps to establish it), inflatable circles and armlets are used. So what do you need to take with you?

1. Swim diapers

Swim diapers top our list. Yes, it can happen to absolutely any baby, and yours is no exception. If you do not want to burden yourself with the constant purchase of such diapers, we advise you to buy reusable ones: it will be cheaper and more economical. Swim diapers differ from ordinary diapers in that their top layer is waterproof. They do not swell in water, as they do not absorb it (and, accordingly, urine too), and they can be washed (this applies to the reusable option). Tightness is achieved due to elastic bands that fit snugly against the skin of the baby. But do not worry — they are made of soft material and will not rub the legs. The main thing is to buy diapers by size, as they should fit snugly against the body in order to avoid embarrassment. And on top you can wear regular swimming trunks.

2. Swim trunks

This option is suitable for older children who are already potty trained. Here, too, the main thing is to choose the right size: less — they will rub, more — perhaps they will slip. In general, for the first swims, choose everything that is as comfortable as possible, since the child finds himself in a completely unusual environment for himself — a large amount of water can scare anyway, and then there are some uncomfortable swimming trunks.

3. Swim cap

This hat is suitable for older children: those who already hold their heads confidently and are not afraid of water. Basically, in pools it is not required. It is necessary if your daughter has long hair: then for reasons of hygiene and so that the pool filter does not become clogged with hair, the child will be asked to wear a cap. There are three types of swimming caps: textile, rubberized on the outside and textile on the inside, as well as silicone. The best option is the second one: such hats do not get wet and are comfortable (they do not press, do not pinch the hair when pulled). The first option (textile caps) is considered by many to be meaningless, since the hair gets wet anyway. They are only needed so that the pool filter does not clog. Silicone caps, of course, do not get wet, but they put a lot of pressure on the child’s head. So rubberized outside and fabric inside caps are the most suitable option.

4. Baby bathing cap

It is recommended to practice baby swimming not earlier than from the 2nd week of life. Since babies at this age are not yet holding their heads up, you can use a special foam cap that keeps the baby’s head above the water. Of course, you will have to support the baby, but having such a hat will greatly simplify your task. How does she look? This is a cap, on the sides and on top of which foam blocks are inserted into special pockets, which help the head to stay above the water.

When buying a hat, pay attention to the fabric: do not buy very bright (it can fade) and made of pure synthetics. Choose the cotton version. During the swim, water can still get into the ears, as the cap is not airtight, so be careful about this. After bathing, the cap must be dried by removing the foam from the pockets.

This design also looks very fun: your baby becomes like a small sun or a camomile.

5. Bathing circle for newborns

This one differs from the usual bathing circle in that it is worn around the child’s neck so that his head is above the surface of the water.

When buying, pay attention to the reliability of the clasps that fix the circle around the neck: the child should not be able to unfasten them. The ideal option is a combination of Velcro and carabiner. Why a combination? The carabiner can loosen from the active movements of the child, and he can accidentally touch and unfasten the Velcro, so for safety reasons, choose a «universal» circle. Modern options are complemented by various bells and whistles: rattles, wings, fins. And if the baby does not pay attention to the latter, then rattles can make him nervous or even frighten.

When choosing between a foam cap and a circle, which is better? Each parent answers this question for himself. There is no “better” or “worse” here. Someone likes to hold the baby in their arms, to feel tactile contact — then a cap is probably preferable. And if you want to watch the child more, without “climbing” into the water, without bending over the little one and without straining your back, choose a circle. But no matter how fancy he is, in no case do not leave the baby unattended! You can sit next to him, talk, read fairy tales to him, but never leave «for a minute.» Another plus of the circle is the health benefits. Since the baby’s body is «in free swimming», muscle hypertonicity decreases, and neurological processes return to normal.

After a while, your little swimmer will begin to roll over in a circle and try to swim (although, of course, this can hardly be called swimming). Do not be alarmed, early muscle development is very useful: babies introduced to swimming begin to sit and walk earlier than their peers.

6. Sleeves

Sleeves are suitable for children from the age of one, when they already understand that the arms must be kept tight so as not to sink the body into the water. You should not rush: ideally, you need to attach the child to the armlets when he has already mastered the circle. But there is an opposite opinion: starting from the age of 6 months, you can slowly accustom the baby to a new device for him. This is done to develop the vestibular apparatus and the muscles of the back and shoulder girdle. However, it is impossible to let the child “free swim”. It is imperative to be near him, because, despite various opinions, armlets are still a thing for adult children.

reanas/Getty Images/iStockphoto



Going to the pool for the first time can be stressful for both you and your child. To smooth out the baby’s reaction to an unfamiliar environment, to make him not worry, we advise you, firstly, be patient, and secondly … with toys. But not new ones, but his favorite ones, the ones he plays with in the bathroom. If the child has not yet weaned from the pacifier, grab it too — believe me, this will save your nerves.

8. Bathrobe or towel

Make sure your child is as comfortable as possible, even at home, during his first trips to the pool. To do this, do not forget to grab a soft towel in which you will wrap your child after training, and even better — a children’s dressing gown. In children’s clothing stores, you can now find many beautiful cozy and warm options.

9. Food

Where would we be without it! We all know that after exercising, you really want to eat. Children are no exception. After class, many mothers are surprised at the good appetite of their always capricious children.

By alexxlab

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