Baby Swimming FAQs

Your questions answered

Must the adult be able to swim?

No. We’ve taught the children of hundreds of parents/carers who have exhibited the full gamut from slight anxiety to downright terror! The water is always shallow enough to stand up in, and you never have to go underwater unless you want to. Most anxious parents want to bring their child to Water Babies so that they don’t pass on their fears to their child; many have even learnt to swim themselves!

Can both parents come along?

Either parent (or even grandparents or older brothers & sisters) can join in the fun in the pool, but due to space restrictions and the nature of the course, we can only allow one adult in the water with your child each week; anyone else is welcome to watch from the side. Please note that the person swimming with your child must be a responsible adult.

Is there a waiting list?

Due to the popularity of our lessons, many of our offices operate waiting lists — so we do encourage you to put your name down while still pregnant. There’s no obligation, but it will secure you that coveted place in the pool!

When can I get an underwater photo of my baby?

We run photo shoots at the end of every term, so there are plenty of chances to get spectacular images of your little one you'll treasure forever. Ker-splash, ker-lick!

How long can we stay with Water Babies?

Our Water Babies journey for babies and toddlers lasts just over 4 years – so that’s lots of Water Babies fun. Sometimes, things like work commitments might mean not being able to manage the whole programme, but do talk to your local Water Babies office as they can usually accommodate most needs.

When should I feed my baby or toddler?

We all have different metabolism and comfort levels, but as a guide we recommend trying to feed your baby 1-2 hours before the lesson, and leaving an hour between your toddler eating solid food and them swimming. Babies and toddlers can both get hungry after such a good workout, so be prepared to feed them or offer a snack afterwards!

What time should we arrive?

Lessons start promptly at the time advertised, and each class lasts 30 minutes. In order to avoid changing room congestion, please try to arrive no earlier than 15 minutes before the start, and be at the poolside a few minutes beforehand, having dressed your child appropriately and having both had a proper shower (using the pool facilities, if available, or at home immediately beforehand if not. Remember, the cleaner you are going into the water, the fewer chemicals need to be used.)

What about changing facilities?

As we mostly hire local pools, this is beyond our control. Some of the pools do have tiny changing rooms, so please come with as little equipment as possible. Sometimes we have to ask that you don’t bring a pram, but we’ll always make things like that clear beforehand. Please always bring a changing mat, as changing your baby on the floor is by far the safest method. It’s also important that you and your baby shower after swimming – most venues have shower facilities, but again these can be limited so you might want to do this at home instead.

What about nappies in the water?

All Water Babies, baby or toddler, must wear a disposable or reusable paper swim nappy underneath and our approved neoprene nappy over the top. Our extensive research shows that this combination is best for avoiding accidents in the pool, which in turn helps to prevent the spread of all sorts of bugs. Please don’t attempt to use an ordinary disposable nappy, as it will just do its job and soak up vast amounts of poolwater — and saturated nappies split open, meaning there’s a greater risk of contaminating the pool. Plus, your poor baby will weigh a ton! It’s best to always have a spare paper swim-nappy available, as you may need a quick mid-swim change. But if you’re caught short, our teachers usually have spares available to buy, so do ask.

The neoprene top nappy must form a good seal around little tummies and thighs. If the neoprene nappy you buy from us turns out not to fit, we'll happily change it for you at your first lesson.

If anything ever does escape from a nappy (whether your own baby’s or anyone else’s) please tell the teacher immediately. We promise we won't be cross! It’s for everyone’s safety and wellbeing.

Please always take your used nappies away with you, unless a clearly marked nappy bin has been provided, and never leave any in an open bin.

Do we need goggles?

We suggest goggles for you at the baby stage (so you can see how fabulous they look swimming underwater!) and for both of you at the toddler stage. Having your own pair means they’ll fit you perfectly and will reduce the risk of eye infections. Completely clear lenses and frames are best, as they maximise your baby’s ability to see your face, which helps to reassure them. Non-tinted lenses mean that all the babies in your class can see your eyes, so they’re less likely to get upset by them. Your child might be a little unsettled by seeing you in goggles for the first time, so you might like to prance around the house in them for a bit first! (But don’t forget to take them off before answering the doorbell…)

Can we join half-way through a term?

Starting and finishing a complete term is best for your baby and for you. Since our classes foster a fantastic group dynamic for both adults and children, it’s best nurtured by starting your journey together. You’ll probably find yourself exchanging contact details, sharing experiences (in and out of the pool) as well as coffee, cake and sleepless nights, right from day one.

What if my little one isn't well?

Please, never bring your child swimming if either you or they have any significant illness, including ear infections, chicken pox, a bad cold, or vomiting/diarrhoea. It’s not fair on you, your child, the other families, your teacher, or the pool. Please ensure that any sickness/diarrhoea symptoms have completely cleared for at least 48 hours before your lesson.

What if my child has an ongoing medical condition?

When you sign our terms & conditions, you take responsibility for the fact that, should you answer ‘yes’ regarding any medical conditions you or your baby might have, you’ve checked things out with your doctor before starting with us. This responsibility is passed on to any other parent or carer who might bring your child swimming.

Can my baby or toddler still swim if they have eczema?

While it does depend on the severity/type of eczema, for the majority of children it’s fine to bring them swimming. You should smooth the prescribed barrier cream over the affected parts and then, because the cream will make your baby slippery and therefore tricky to hold, pop them into an eczema suit (which, unlike a cotton top, doesn’t absorb the cream). As always, do check with your health practitioner if you have any worries about your child’s skin.

Do you cater for children with special or additional needs?

Over the years, we’ve taught lots of children — and parents and carers, too — with all sorts of special and additional needs including Down’s Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and babies with sensory impairments. Swimming in warm water helps with muscle development and co-ordination and, whilst stimulating, is also very relaxing. .And water’s a great leveller, allowing you to focus on their abilities rather than their limitations - while they simply have fun in a non-competitive environment.

But we don’t presume to be medical or therapeutic experts, therefore we’d always ask you to first check out the suitability of swimming sessions with your child’s health professionals, and to get written permission from them for your little one to attend.

Can my baby swim with you if they were premature?

Swimming can help premature babies catch up on any stages of motor development they may have missed, while increased resistance in water will help build their strength and muscle tone. It also stimulates all of the senses, which is particularly important if your baby’s prematurity has resulted in any sensory deficits eg. sight or hearing problems. Just remember that babies born prematurely won't have a fully developed immune system, so please do check with your health professional before you take them swimming.

How can babies swim underwater?

A key part of developing your baby’s confidence, underwater work is an important and exciting part of our course. However, it only constitutes a tiny proportion of the work we do: about 95% of the lesson takes place on the surface, and underwater swims only ever last a few seconds.

Although we capitalise on babies’ ability to use their natural reflexes, through gradual progression and repetition we actually train our Water Babies to control their breathing before they go underwater. Ultimately they'll learn to breathe out whilst they're underwater, which we believe gives them real empowerment and a sense of being fully in control. It's also a great foundation in 'aquatic breathing', which is essential as they progress to be independent little swimmers.