Babies Swimming Tips and FAQs
It’s natural to have lots of questions when you are considering baby swimming lessons and classes. The following are questions we are often asked when taking your baby swimming. Click on the links below for more information. If you have any other questions or comments, however trivial you may think they are, please click here to drop us an email.
Q. Why teach my baby to swim?
The Turtle Tots Swim philosophy is to ensure safety and water confidence, encouraging parents to fully utilise the benefits and enjoyment that they can have swimming with their children – whether at classes, on holiday or trips to the pool. Water confidence and the ability to swim from a young age is certainly a gift for life. We also provide a great social environment for parents and babies, especially for mums as their social life totally changes with the new arrival, to meet and share their precious baby time.
Q. Why start baby swimming so young?
We believe introducing your baby to water from an early age helps them avoid the traumatic experience that older children sometimes suffer around water. More importantly we believe that babies who learn key life saving skills from an early age, many of whom can swim by as young as 2 years old, while not drown proof have a much greater regard for water and are safer around it.
Q. Do the classes include submersion?
At Turtle Tots we introduce underwater swims in a gentle, child-led way so that babies always have the choice whether to swim underwater or not.
Babies learn though watching those around them so in order for our little Turtles to love swimming underwater they need to see the adults around them doing the same – so parent and teacher submersions are an important part of our programme. Our teachers will never put pressure on anyone (adult or child) to submerge if they don’t want to, but through gentle, expert guidance they can help you to overcome any fears you may have about going under the water yourself so that you and your baby can learn to explore the magical underwater world together.
It is completely safe for babies to swim underwater as they are born with an amazing reflex (the gag reflex) which causes them to hold their breath automatically underwater. Very soon babies learn to hold their breath voluntarily when swimming underwater.
Q. Does my baby need to be fully immunised?
It's never too soon to introduce your baby to water. Medical research shows that a baby doesn't need to have completed the full immunisation course before you take your baby swimming.
However, we do advise that you speak to your G.P. or health visitor if you have any concerns about pre-immunisation and baby swimming..
Q. What should my baby wear for baby swimming?
We operate a strict double nappy policy. Every baby and toddler, unless completely potty trained must wear a disposable/reusable swimming nappy, with a specialist neoprene swimming nappy over the top. You can buy neoprene nappies from your local Turtle Tots office or click here to order online.
The nappy should be quite difficult to get on, and fit snugly around the legs and waist. They should not be so tight that are leaving red marks on the legs.
The disposable or reusable nappy underneath should be COMPLETELY hidden. If this is peeping out the top of the outer nappy, it is rendered useless should there be poop! If you are struggling to pull the neoprene nappy over the top of the under nappy you may need to pull the nappy up a little at the legs. Or buy a bigger size.
We also sell Baby Warmas and Warming Wetsuits, which you may wish to purchase if your little one feels the cold or if you take them swimming in cooler pools between classes. click here to view the products
Q. When should I feed my child before swimming?
If you are feeding with solids, please allow at least 1 hour for food to digest before swimming.
For babies under 6 months please feed milk as necessary, if your baby is hungry they won’t enjoy their swim! If possible, please schedule milk feeds around 30 minutes before you get in the pool but we understand that this is not always possible.
Babies may be hungrier (and sleepier) after swimming due to all the exercise, so they may need a big feed after the swim. Please note that food is not allowed inside the pool facilities so please wait until you leave to give your little one their snack.
Q. What if my child is ill?
You should not take your baby swimming if they have any illness which causes either a temperature or sickness/diarrhoea.
In the case of diarrhoea your child must be clear of symptoms for 48 hours before swimming. If you are concerned about any medical condition, we ask that you always check with your GP before coming to any lessons.
Q. Do parents need to be confident swimmers?
No! Although parents need to be in the pool with the babies, the pool will be shallow enough for parents to stand up. Our teachers are fully trained and experienced in helping parents to feel confident in the water.
Many of our parents have overcome their own fear of water in order to ensure their baby is water confident – this can be an incredibly powerful bonding experience to share with your child.
Where pool space allows, many of our teachers allow both parents to get into the water with their child, so one parent can support the other in cases where one is nervous.
Q. When will my baby learn to swim on his/her own?
Our classes are small and are held in warm pools. Getting children in the pool early is vital and means that by the time they are 3 years, they will have learnt to doggy paddle and will most likely have mastered some basic strokes. At the earliest stage they learn lifesaving skills including floating, turning and swimming to hold on. Through continuous development on the course, they should be able to swim 5m unaided by the age of 2 1/2 - 3 years.
We always advise parents that learning to swim takes a lot of practice and patience and every child will accomplish the goals in their own time as it happens with any other learning process. We do not rush or force any baby or parent into any activity they are not ready for.
Q. What are natural baby swim reflexes?
Babies have a natural ability for swimming, having a different reflex that makes them perfect candidates for swimming. Reflexes are defined as automatic responses to an outside stimulus. Healthy babies are born with extremely sophisticated natural reflexes that protect them from any harm and are very important as they promote their survival.
At Turtle Tots we work around these reflexes to turn them into deliberate actions.
Q. What is the Gag Reflex?
The ‘Gag’ Reflex is activated when water enters the mouth. The glottis and epiglottis close preventing water from entering the throat and providing a water tight seal to the lungs while your baby is submerged. This is why you often see babies swimming with their mouths open.