Baby swimming

Our girls are waterbabies. They have both swum from a very young age, our youngest hadn’t even finished her routine of jabs before we had her signed up at a local parent and baby class (its a myth that you have to wait – the NHS says so)

Quite early on in our eldest’s swimming journey we were told about the laryngeal reflex (more commonly known as the gag reflex). When this reflex kicks in, a baby will instinctively hold its breath and avoid inhaling water in response to the sensation of feeling water on its face, nose, or throat. They loose this reflex as they near the 6 month stage, so its actually a good thing to start your baby early. In the lessons we’ve attended over the years this reflex has played a big part in teaching our girls to swim underwater. Its a really magical thing to see and something that we would spend the money on over and over. Not only are the lessons fun for the child, but they also promote water safety and are great for bonding. We attend Waterbabies lessons, but there are other courses around the country that offer parent and baby sessions.

Before you take your baby to swim you have to stock up on the essentials. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but one we have put together for each stage of your swimming adventure.

Baby (under 6 months)

Swim Nappies – The lessons we attend insist on ‘double nappy protection’. This consists of a disposable nappy (we use Huggies swim nappies) with a re-usable neoprene ‘happy nappy‘ over the top. We have used this method for hundreds of lessons and recreational swims in the last 3 years and we have not once had an accident escape. If you are swimming in a hydrotherapy pool (as is recommended for babies under 4 months) then you wont need any other swim wear for baby.

Hooded Towel – bringing a hooded towel to poolside will ensure baby doesn’t get cold when you leave the warm pool. We love this one by Waterbabies.

Baby (6-18 months)

Swim wear – As your baby gets older and starts to swim in a regular pool (or in a cold pool on holiday) you might want to invest in a Happy Nappy wetsuit. These wetsuits have an integral neoprene nappy so all baby needs to wear is a disposable nappy underneath. They keep baby warm like a wetsuit and have SPF 50 protection too.

Pool toys – It is this age that we started introducing pool toys to our recreational swims. They are also used in their swimming lessons to develop different skills. Our daughters love:

Swim poncho – This was great when our girls became mobile and were able to walk around the pool side. We have a waterbabies one and a number of Disney ones. We also invested in an all in one (from Splash About) for when the girls were crawling. It was great for lessons and on holiday.


Swim wear – We continued to used a disposable nappy even when our daughter was potty trained. It was still needed in her swimming lessons and when we spent prolonged time in the pool on holiday. We brought the Splash Around swimming costume for her as it looked more like a normal costume (the also do an board short style for boys).

Swim aids – As our girls got bigger they started to be more independent in the pool. We brought a swim woggle, swim floats and a swim jacket to help with this independence.

Towel – Toddlers love towels that feature their favourite TV/Film characters. This is a good time to introduce a proper towel to your swim bag as they can walk unaided and the large size keeps them warm and dry. We have a variety of Disney towels, but my personal favourite is this Little Mermaid one that we had personalised.

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