It is completely up to you to decide when to take your baby, toddler or child for their first swimming lesson. Despite any rumours you may have heard, there is no age restriction on taking your baby to a swimming pool.
In each early age group, your child has different abilities and learns in different ways. Below is a rough guide of what you can expect at each milestone.
Swimming lessons up to the age of 18 months
Up to the age of around 1 and a half, your baby or toddler will enjoy exploring the water. This is a great time to get your baby comfortable with the feel of an open stretch of water. Your child will be capable of very basic kicking and pulling and may begin to float, glide and change direction. Your little one may even try to get in and out of the water. All of these things will require your helping hand.
Swimming lessons at this age can be a good idea. Classes for young toddlers and babies tend to include plenty of singing as this helps to engage the baby and gives them a rhythm to move to in the water. Associating a melody with a certain motion helps your little one remember what to do.
Swimming lessons from 18 months to 3 years
As your toddler gets closer to the age of three, they will be able to use the steps to get themselves in and out of the water. In this age range, your child will continue to develop arm and kicking motions which will become useful when they learn to swim properly. Your child will be learning to dunk their head under water and hold their breath. When your child is ready to practise holding their breath, they could try reaching down for plastic rings in the shallow end of the baby pool.
Towards the top end of this age range, no matter how independent your toddler may seem in the pool, it is still important to stay with your child at all times because they are not quite ready for formal swimming lessons.
Swimming lessons for 3 to 5 year olds
When your child reaches their third birthday, they will be ready for swimming lessons in the next couple of years. Wait until your child is ready, talk to them about it and choose a class which has a small number of students. At this age, your child should not share an instructor with more than another five children. Teach your child that running by the pool is not allowed and that they are not to go into the pool unless a trusted adult is with them.
At this age, children can float on their front and back and roll from one side to the other. Children begin to use their arms and legs to move forwards and tread water. Your child will still enjoy using their imagination so encourage your child to play games and pretend to be an animal so they have fun in the pool.
Susan Thomas is a renowned author of all things sports related. When getting the latest information on swimming lessons, Susan visits www.puddleducks.com.