How Young Can Children Start Swimming Lessons?

Newborn swimming classes are all the rage. Nearly every swimming pool is offering baby swimming classes, and videos go around showing how swimming classes can help prevent babies from drowning. Whether you want your kids to be the next Michael Phelps or you just want them to be comfortable and safe in the water, here are some things to consider to figure out how young your children can start swimming lessons.

Is it okay for babies to take swimming lessons?

Originally, the American Association of Pediatrics had said that children can safely start taking swimming lessons starting at age four. In 2010 though, the AAP lowered that age to one after seeing studies that showed promising results of preventing baby drowning. Baby classes, which usually start allowing babies to participate at around six months old, can teach babies how to float on their backs if they fall in the water. This is a vital skill, especially because one of the leading causes of death of children 1-2 years old is drowning. Additionally, baby lessons can be a great opportunity to bond with your child and have fun. Parents often learn essential water safety skills themselves and learn important information about what to do in a water emergency.

Starting baby swimming lessons can definitely help keep your child safe. But remember, that doesn’t mean they’re drown-proof. Barbara Byers, public education director for the Lifesaving Society in Toronto, warns that putting babies and toddlers in swimming lessons may give parents a false sense of security. Parents may think that because their baby or toddler has taken swimming lessons that they will be fine playing in the water unsupervised, which is not the case. Babies can also forget how to float and may need more courses to keep their skills up.

How do I know if my child can start swimming lessons?

After baby swimming lessons, there are options for children between ages one and four. If your local pool offers classes for this age, make sure that the instructors are certified and that they pay close attention to the children before you let your child start.

Beginning around age five, kids really begin to retain the muscle memory and technique necessary to actually be able to swim. However, if your child is a fast learner and has a good memory, he or she might be able to start swimming lessons at a younger age. Don’t force your children to take swimming lessons if they are frightened of the water or if they aren’t enjoying the classes. The more mature your child is, the better able he or she will handle newer environments, different teachers, and more classmates.

Other things to consider before putting your child in swimming lessons

When thinking about when to put your child in swimming lessons, another factor to consider is your environment. If your home is near streams, canals, or rivers, water safety is a must. If your family participates in water-related recreation, like fishing or boating, swimming lessons are also a great idea and you may want to get your child started on lessons earlier.

Depending on your local resources, you may need to wait to put your child in swimming lessons. Check out your nearby pool and ask if all the employees are Red Cross certified. Make sure the pool is clean, and ask how many students are allowed in a class. Review the criteria for each class offered to decide which one will best suit your child.

Depending on your situation, you can review these points to decide how young your children can start swimming lessons. To see what kinds of classes are offered near you, check out our swimming lesson options for children.