Here at the Dolphin
Swim School our parent and baby classes
aim to provide fun and enjoyment of the
water through games and play combined
with simple instructions to baby, enabling
them to gain confidence in water. With
that confidence infants learn to jump
in, get to safety and climb out again
before the age of two. Sounds unbelievable
doesn’t it? Let us take you through
our baby swimming programme in this leaflet
and we’ll do our best to alleviate
any doubts you may have.
At birth babies are able
to hold their breath automatically underwater,
make a short journey towards light at
the surface completely unaided and then
float on the surface without any help
At Dolphins babies can
be introduced to the water as young as
three months old, most medical bodies
recommend this age because of inoculations
and inner ear development. At this age
a baby will easily take to warm water
as there is no fear, no awareness and
the diving reflex is still active. The
purpose then, at this tender age, is to
train baby to hold their breath and obey
simple commands, very quickly they learn
that “Ready - Go!” means ‘hold
my breath’! As baby progresses they
learn to hold on, turn and propel themselves
towards their parent underwater, from
the age of eight months they start to
show obvious enjoyment of the water, splashing,
kicking and trying to blow bubbles.
At one year they are able to perform simple
tasks such as reaching out and holding
onto the bar, falling into the water from
a small height and swimming deeper underwater.
By now their cardio-vascular system (heart
and lungs) have strengthened to an extent
far greater than infants who do not swim.
You will also start to notice their development
on land; their appetite, sleep patterns
and general health compare more favourably
than non-swimming infants.
Between one year and eighteen months their
rate of progress will astonish you. Now
they can be dropped into the water from
above your head, recover and surface with
a smile! They can be thrown towards a
floating mat, climb onto it and enjoy
a sing-song before excitedly throwing
themselves back into the water with obvious
Once your child reaches
the advanced stage they start to learn
the basics of swimming on the surface.
By their second birthday an infant shows
their first signs of limb co-ordination
and muscle development. Some children
can swim 5 metres as early as 2 years
4 months – by swim we mean ‘propelling
themselves unaided through the water on
the surface and taking in air as they
progress by lifting their head clear of
By now you the parent gain the most enjoyment
and fun from your child. Nothing can beat
swimming underwater with your child riding
piggy-back, or watching as their little
friends laugh and play in the water with
them, jumping in and diving down. Compare
this to the little boy or girl clinging
fearfully to their parent, still in armbands
and terrified of getting wet not to mention
By bringing your child to the Dolphin
Swim School you are giving them the best
possible start in life and providing them
with the confidence and self-assurance
they will need later on.
But most importantly,
we set out to reduce the number of infant
drownings in this country. These average
11 per year and if we can prevent just
one of these tragedies we will have done
Q. Will my baby
take water into their lungs?
A. No. If you start your baby early enough
they will automatically hold their breath
as soon as the water touches their chin.
Older babies may splutter slightly until
they retrain their diving reflex and some
may cry for the first few times, but the
vast majority of babies tolerate submersions
very happily indeed.
Q. Do I have to put my baby underwater?
A. No. We understand that you are going
against all your natural instincts by
placing your baby underwater, however
by keeping your child above the surface
you will not reap the full benefits of
Q. What if my baby doesn't surface?
A. They will. Babies naturally swim towards
light. Besides, we only permit submersions
of 2-3 seconds in the early stages and
then of course there's Mum ready to bring
Q. How long can baby hold their
A. Usually 2-3 seconds, remember, small
babies have small lungs and therefore
only short swims and submersions can be
used. As baby progresses their lung capacity
increases and their cardio-vascular system
strengthens until they can swim underwater
for up to 5-7 seconds (approximately one
width of our pool, guided through the
water by the tutor).
Q. How deep will my baby swim?
A. No more than six to eight inches below
the surface in the early stages.
Q. What is this 'diving reflex'
A. A muscular contraction of the airway
present in all of us to some extent. If
you swim yourself you will know the automatic
action of breath-holding, you don't even
think about it. In small babies, this
reflex is fully active up to the age of
three months, after this baby is trained
to use the reflex by learning "Ready
Go!" and identifying those words
with their chin touching the water. Nothing
can beat the sight of a small baby blinking
their eyes in anticipation of going under.
It only takes a few lessons to learn,
they know what to do automatically. It
never ceases to amaze us!
Q. My baby hasn't been well lately,
should they still swim?
A. No! No! No! Never swim an unwell baby.
An occasional sniffles generally-ok,
'but if you have any suspicion that it
could ,be leading into something more
serious don't bring baby. Do not bring
a baby swimming if they have been in contact
with .any' infectious diseases or are
listless or out of sorts. Don't be misled
into thinking that the water will do them
good. It won't. They won't enjoy themselves
and you may set them back several weeks.
Under no circumstances should you bring
a baby if they have diarrhoea or vomiting.
Apart from the obvious health risks to
others should baby's poo contaminate the
water, the pool itself would have to be
shut down at considerable expense to us
and inconvenience to the other parents
and- children who could not swim.
Q. Can my husband/partner/mother/father
join in the swim?
A. Normally, yes of course, but if you
are already in a busy class i.e. 7 or
more, you may be asked to share the class
- Mum one week, Dad the next.
Q. What should we wear?
A. Parents should wear bright swimwear
preferably. Babies can see light and
bright colours underwater and can identify
you, try to make yourself as noticeable
as possible. Baby must wear a swim nappy
and plastic pants, these are compulsory
because accidents do happen. Swimming
trunks or costumes for baby are optional.
Q. Is it all dunking - right
through the lesson?
A. No, we usually have a ten minute warm-up,
ten minutes work and ten minutes of fun.
The more advanced the child becomes the
more time we spend working.
Q. So how soon will my baby be
swimming for Great Britain?
A. When they're good and ready. No parent
should push a small child into attempting
things their body is not capable of and
swimming is no exception. Some children
can swim as early as two and a half years,
others take much longer. Let them progress
at their own pace to suit their ability
and you will reap the rewards with them.
First and foremost, children must want
to swim which is why at Dolphins the emphasis
is on fun, enjoyment and confidence building.
Q. Do the tutors enjoy what they
A. Without question, we have the best
job in the world and never hide our amazement
at these wonderful baby swimmers!
Lastly but by no means least,
talk to us! Always let us know if your
baby didn't like a particular practice
or if you are not sure about something.
Question us to your heart's content because
by doing so we can reassure you, by talking
to us you are alerting us to any problems
or progress made.
Please bear the following in
mind when you book a lesson:
Baby's sleep and feeding times
- Older babies can be more flexible with
their routines but you should never attempt
to swim a hungry infant, nor should you
keep a small baby awake for the sake of
the swim, it will not work for either
Older siblings at nursery or school
- Try not to rush to your lesson, our
most productive classes start on time
with everyone in the water calm arid relaxed.
Who will swim with baby? -
It is a fact of life that more mothers
than fathers have the time to get involved
in activities with their children. But
if Dad does have the opportunity try to
arrange a time to suit you both (day off,
weekends etc). Alternatively, if "Nanny
or Grandad want to do the swims, they
Feeding - Always allow
at least 2 hours after eating solids,
1 Y2 hours after milk before swimming
baby. Some infants will swallow small
amounts of water during the lesson which
co ld 'result in vomiting if they have
a full stomach.
Motivation - Please make
sure you are swimming your baby for the
right reasons, not because it is the trendy
thing to do or you ant impress your friends.