Happy Baby
Credit: The Dark Canuck at Flickr

Actively participating in swim classes at an early age can provide lasting benefits to a child. Besides the physical and safety aspects, children are able to build self-confidence, concentration, strong perceptual abilities and good social skills.  The following are answers to 5 questions parents or guardians may have about enrollment.

When to Enroll?

Various locations may recommend different ages for enrolling a child, but generally as early as 3 – 6 months or when a child can hold up his/her own head is an appropriate time to begin.

What are classes like?

In group classes a parent or designated person accompanies the baby and leads them through the activities set up by the instructor. To accommodate a babies attention span classes are usually only 30 minutes in length and include catchy songs, toys, games and activities to teach and allow babies to enjoy themselves in the water.

What type of attire is required?

When in a class setting it is appropriate to maintain sanitary conditions for the benefit of your own child and other children. Therefore, even where not required it’s helpful to have babies wear a swim diaper as well as a plastic-lined cover under their swim suits.  Depending on the age of the child goggles may also be helpful to have for class.

When will baby be able to swim on their own?

Learning to swim is a progressive process and each child will be different. Through exposure infants become comfortable in the water and begin to acquire essential skills such as controlling their breathing, reaching for and climbing on the ledge of the pool, doggy paddling with assistance, and turning over into a back float. After some time babies can learn to propel themselves and move a short distance in the water on their own; lengthening the distance with continued practice and age.

Baby Swimming
Credit: David Malkoff at Flickr

Where are classes taught?

Swim classes are often taught at local YMCA’s, fitness clubs and community pools. There are also specialty schools devoted solely to teaching swimming lessons to all age groups.  Check online or local listings for places offering the service in your area – prices will vary by location and schedule.