10 Reasons to take your baby swimming

We all need to learn how to swim in order to stay safe. Yet if you live in Scotland, your child will not necessarily be offered lessons throughout primary school. Indeed, they may be as old as 9 before they receive any regular coaching at all. Which means the onus is very much on parents and carers to ensure all kids learn to swim confidently. In an ideal scenario, every child would attend regular lessons from babyhood on.

I spoke to Amanda, joint director of Water Babies Edinburgh, who explained why.

  1. If you take your baby swimming regularly, they are less likely to develop a fear of water in later life. Equally, they will find daily routines involving water, such as hair washing, more enjoyable.

  2. Swimming sessions provide a safe opportunity for babies to explore different ways of moving. Bouncing and splashing both stimulate and develop the vestibular system, which coordinates balance.

  3. Swimming lessons are a great way to develop the smaller muscles in your child’s wrists, hands, fingers, feet and toes. It will help develop the fine motor skills needed in so many other areas of life.

  4. Cross-lateral movements such as reaching for a ball help with hand-eye coordination.

5. Besides toning your child’s muscles, the regular all-body workout will strengthen their lungs, blood vessels and heart.

6. Up to the age of about 12 months, you child’s epiglottis will automatically close over and block the throat when he or she is submerged in water. The so-called ‘laryngeal’ or ‘gag’ reflex is at its strongest when your child is born, but weakens over time. So it makes sense to harness your baby’s natural reflex and get them used to going under water.

7. Age-appropriate swimming lessons with a qualified instructor will prepare your baby to go under water through word association and this quickly becomes a learned response.

8.Babies generally love water. What’s more, swimming will help them relax and let off steam. The immersive physical activity should inevitably promote a good sleep routine and a healthy appetite!

9. Swimming sessions are the ideal opportunity for a parent or grandparent to bond with their (grand)child in a relaxed and enjoyable setting.

10. A baby swimming lesson run by trained swimming instructors will always involve repetitive listening activities and multiple songs, all of which will develop your baby’s general communication skills.


When can my baby start swimming?

This is dependent on their weight and the temperature of the pool water. Little ones can start lessons from birth in a 32 degree pool and from 12lb in weight in a 30 degree pool, assuming they are fit and well. If in doubt, or if your baby was premature, consult your GP/health visitor.

How long are lessons at Waterbabies?

30 minutes

Where can I find Waterbabies’ lessons in Edinburgh?

Click here

How many little ones are there in a class?

This depends on the size of the pool area but on average there are a maximum of 8 (no more than 10) babies plus their accompanying adults

How do Waterbabies engage babies and very young children?

Well-qualified instructors always tailor lessons to make them age-appropriate using

song, play and repetition.




Laura Vida

Feature Writer