To think that swimming lessons before the age of three are totally pointless

(120 Posts)
ReallyTired Thu 07-Nov-13 11:33:07

I know that newborns can supposely hold their breathe and swim under water, but no small child is safe with water. As far as water confidence goes a family splash session is as effective as an expensive lesson.

Dd started swimming lessons at three years and three months. After three terms of lessons she can now swim 5 metres on both her front and back. I believe it is developmental readiness that determines whether a child learns to swim early or not. There are children in dd's old swimming class who had lessons as babies and children in her new swimming class (all of whom can swim 5 metres) who have only had a couple of terms of lessons.

I feel the risks of baby swimming lessons (ie. glue ear, mum dying of boredom) outweigh the benefits. Its better to wait until the child is actually told enough to follow instructions and you can sit in the cafe while your little darling kicks around with a float.

Mintyy Thu 07-Nov-13 11:39:32

Fair enough.

ClipClap Thu 07-Nov-13 11:40:05

Live and let swim! I love my Sunday morning lie ins whilst DH takes DD (2) to her lesson. She can't swim, but she gets some time doing something she finds fun with her DF.

WhatTheFoxSays Thu 07-Nov-13 11:40:34

but no small child is safe with water.

I'd assume that their parents would be there in the lesson to help them for babies that young, no.

My local swimming pool starts lessons from 18 months I think. I'm not sure exactly how effective that would be at that age.

Mylovelyboy Thu 07-Nov-13 11:41:08

Totally agree with you.

livinginwonderland Thu 07-Nov-13 11:42:25

Lessons at a young age are more about introducing the child to water and getting up their confidence, not them "learning" to swim per se.

Pascha Thu 07-Nov-13 11:45:11

Of course they're pointless in terms of learning to swim. Good fun though and structured which suits me perfectly. I wouldn't give it up for anything.

Cuddlydragon Thu 07-Nov-13 11:45:27

Ok then. My DS has gone to swimming lessons since he was 4 months old. I can't say I'm bored, I love it. He loves it and I love that he loves it. It's been great tbh. It can be a faff but for that reason a set day and time in a warm pool with other babies gives me an incentive to go. For what it's worth at 16 months he's been trained to hold on to the side when he falls in and hold on, it's amazing to watch.

ubik Thu 07-Nov-13 11:47:08

Oh god yeah.

Honestly if I see another toddler screaming at the poolside or sobbing while in the water, I will scream.

I just sit there thinking why don't you just go to the local pool and have a nice time? Why are you wasting your money fok g something the kid doesn't enjoy?

They will learn to swim but they do it quicker and with much more enthusiasm near age 4 (although there are some tots who get much earlier)

vvviola Thu 07-Nov-13 11:49:43

In the UK (and Ireland where I'm from) I'd agree with you.

Here in NZ where there are more swimming pools in people's gardens, more time at the beach, swimming lessons at a young age tend to teach respect for the water and "pre-swimming skill".

For example - I take 2yo DD2 swimming every week. Other than just having a bit of fun, the key things that they seem to be trying to teach them are:
- not to get in the water without a parent saying so (every exercise is started with the parent saying the child's name & "ready, go"
- how to hold on to the edge
- how to climb out (DD2 appear to have inherited my puny upper body strength but there are little ones her age able to haul themselves up out of the pool)

Yes, there's "swimming" too (this week DD managed with the help of two noodles to kick and paddle her hands and "swim" without me holding her, she thinks she's the bees knees wink), but mostly it's water confidence and awareness.

Proper classes start at 3. And seeing them all sitting on the steps of the pool at that age, complete with goggles and hats is just adorable. grin

Would I be doing it with her if we were back home. Probably not. Am I glad to have the opportunity here? Absolutely.

iwantanafternoonnap Thu 07-Nov-13 11:49:45

Mine has gone from the age of 4 months and loves it now and he's 3 and can swim 25 meters. My friend son could swim 25 meters by the age of 2.

They could both jump in and turn to hold the sides from a very young age and this is extremely important if they ever fell in a pond, stream etc and there has been a fair few articles in newspaper where this very skill has probably saved the kids life as they didn't panic and get swept away.

I haven't been in the swimming classes since he was 2!! I never found it boring before then either.

KuppiKahvia Thu 07-Nov-13 11:55:52

It is good for young children to have regular time in the pool. If it is a booked and payed for "lesson" that means time is made for this then that is a good thing. I agree that a lesson is no better than time in the pool with an involved parent.
I personally think that even 3 is too young for most children to be in formal lessons. Our pool runs lessons for children in the pool without their parent from 4 and this is about right, their co-ordination is good enough and the huge majority can stand up in the shallow end.

bonkersLFDT20 Thu 07-Nov-13 11:57:18

Hmmm, I'm not sure I agree entirely.

I can swim, but am quite cautious. When I took the kids swimming as babies and toddlers, I'd be hovering around them worried they'd slip and go under. I was stunned when we started DS2 with lessons when he was 3. In they all went, no fannying around wondering whether the child was nervous, the teacher just got on with it, oozing confidence and fun and the children followed. I was really twitchy watching DS, but of course he was fine.
I do think he would have benefitted from going in earlier and I also would have learnt that they are actually more OK than I thought.

Kewcumber Thu 07-Nov-13 11:59:53

Of course it didn't help DS to swim but it did help me work out how best to help him. Mind you he had a fear of water and if I didn't take him every week he regressed significantly. I found the structure of a lesson (with me in the water with him) much easier. Once they moved on to swimming without parents it had less point ime and we stopped until he was 3 or 4.

Maryz Thu 07-Nov-13 12:02:14

Mine could all swim well before they started school, even dd who wasn't that keen at first. The boys could both swim without armbands at the age of about 2.

It meant that by the time I actually had to pay for lessons they were proper lessons and were worth paying for.

They are all very confident swimmers now, both in pools and more importantly in the sea/waves.

Also, swimming for babies can be fun, can't it? I used to take my three on my own (aged 4, 2 and newborn-ish) and it was a good way to spend an afternoon.

ifyourehoppyandyouknowit Thu 07-Nov-13 12:02:41

To me it was more about getting DS used to the water so that when he eventually needs to know how to swim (which I do think is a necessary skill in life) he wasn't afraid of not being able to touch the bottom and getting his face wet. We're also teaching him to not get in the water without us, how to hold on to the side and at the minute (he's nearly 2) he's learning to 'swim' with armbands on (basically just self propelling through the water). He also knows to hold his breath when he goes under water. Going to baby swimming lessons was great purely because it taught me how to interact with him in the water (ie not hold him close to my body, let him get used to floating) gave us ideas on games we could play and things we could do in the water, and since it cost a small fortune it was the one activity that we always went to even when we just couldn't be bothered. We go once a week now still, and it's great.

Plus, babies sleep for AGES after a good swim!

Butterkistbutterkistrarara Thu 07-Nov-13 12:03:06

I took my DD to parent and toddler lessons at our local council pool from about 18 months, it was half an hour basic pool safety, singing songs, jumping in, learning to climb out of the pool safely. It also let us get priority into the pre-school swimming lessons. DD is newly 5 and we spent our holiday abroad this summer in the pool, splashing and swimming around. She can a breadth of the pool front crawl and back stroke now. Its a life skill I insist on her learning as we are 5 mins from the beach!

Blongle Thu 07-Nov-13 12:05:13

YANBU in that regular fun sessions in the pool are just as good as lessons at that age. However, lessons may have the following advantages:

1) Depending on the pool, it sometimes works out cheaper than paying to get into the pool.

2) Paying for a block of lessons gives slack parents a push to actually go to the pool regularly, that they might not get around to otherwise.

3) Great for parents who don't have water confidence.

4) Opportunity to meet other parents and children for those without a wide network of "mum friends"

5) Some parents and babies actually enjoy it!!

LeMatin Thu 07-Nov-13 12:07:25

You could say that about a lot of baby classes though. Swimming class was/is the highlight of the week for my DCs as young toddlers, and a nice social occasion for me. No, they didn't really learn to swim as such, but the got the idea of swimming, could self propel with a woggle by age 2.5 ish, and were confident in the water. DC1 was a fairly early independent swimmer, at around aged 4 (DC2 is still younger).

We could have done similar during family swims, but it wouldn't have been so sociable, and we wouldn't have had the peer influence aspect in terms of helping with new things like jumping in. Plus the swimming pool probably wouldn't have let me turn up with music, a bubble machine etc, and we don't have anywhere near the volume of equipment that the class teacher has.

So I consider baby swimming lessons to have been very beneficial for us.

LoopaDaLoopa Thu 07-Nov-13 12:09:33

Our little DD can swim. She's 2. We have a pool, and live in a country where there are lots of pools. I really don't think her having had lessons was a waste of time at all. confused

At 6 weeks, yeah, I agree, to a degree.

crispsarenotoneofyour5aday Thu 07-Nov-13 12:10:26

Another one who thinks they are very beneficial - both mine started at 16 weeks and could swim 25m by the age of two. Good for general health and for just being confident and enjoying the water. Pair of them much older now and still demonstrate seal-life qualities

Lvcat Thu 07-Nov-13 12:11:39

Things like water babies etc save lives.
They re-enforce the babies own natural instincts like the need to get to the surface if you're underwater and to get to a side(or something equivalent) and hold on so if (god forbid) the LO fell in a river or lake or pool they would instinctively do these things.

They give you the tools to help teach your LOs to swim too!

My niece was been going from 4 moths, she's now 19 months old an can swim (doggy paddle) across a pool with the need of only one armband. Which is truly an amazing thing to see grin

Bluebirdonmyshoulder Thu 07-Nov-13 12:12:53

Disagree. My DD started at 10 months and loves it.

But you're entitled to your opinion, not sure why you care what other people do though!

Blatherskite Thu 07-Nov-13 12:15:47

DS started lessons when he was 6 months old, DD was just a little over 1.

I signed up for them because I knew full well that left to my own devices, I would probably hardly ever take them swimming but once it was paid for in advance, I felt like I had to go. It might have looked like mostly songs and splashing to anyone watching but they learnt how to move through the water on their feet, not to be bothered about getting their faces wet and how to jump in and turn around to grab onto the side which could be a life-saving skill should they ever fall in. They learnt to listen to the teacher and to follow the pool rules like not running etc. It taught me not to be nervous and how to hold and interact with them to help fill them with confidence. Both started swimming without me in the pool at 3 and both are doing really well now. DD's (almost 4) teacher was very impressed yesterday when she got water in her mouth and just spat it out and carried on swimming.

I almost drowned as a child so I really need them to be safe in the water.

It might seem like a waste to you but I think it was worth every penny.

rachyconks Thu 07-Nov-13 12:17:11


My DD is almost one and can swim unaided a short distance underwater. She can also jump in from sitting on the side It undoubtedly helps her core strength and coordination. Most importantly,she has no fear of the water. I took her from 7 weeks. Proper lessons from 4-10months (they stopped unfortunately) and now we go as a family once a week. We are big swimmers/into water sports. It's really important to me that she learns this life skill.

ChoudeBruxelles Thu 07-Nov-13 12:17:23

I don't think they lead to swim well but not totally pointless. They learn to be confident in the water which helps with actual swimming when they are a bit older

hatsybatsy Thu 07-Nov-13 12:18:29


I did lessons with ds from when he was 6-18 months. He was very nearly swimming by the end of it, but more than that - he was happy and confident in the water. When he jumped in, he didn't panic if he went under water and instinctively turned for the side and managed the few strokes needed to get him there. The lessons were fun for both of us - very sociable.

It hasn't meant that he is a better swimmer aged 9 - it just meant that he was water safe from a very young age, and that he was taught from a young age that being active is fun.

whatever5 Thu 07-Nov-13 12:28:24

I doubt that they'll learn to swim but I think the lessons can be very useful if the parents are not good swimmers and are unhappy/nervous in the water. The children can get used to the water and have fun.

Howlsmovingcastle Thu 07-Nov-13 12:30:06

A friend of mine has a DS who is 2.4 and can swim unaided. It is remarkable. Mind you she took him swimming once a week more or less from birth!

So on the basis of that one example, YABU grin

JuliaScurr Thu 07-Nov-13 12:30:20

my swimming teacher friend thinks lessons are pointless unless the kids are already confident in water.

I took dd from 6 mths; she never realised she was meant to be scared; learnt to swim properly really easily

MummyPigsFatTummy Thu 07-Nov-13 12:34:50

I think they can be useful from the point of view of getting the child used to the water. Whilst you could do that yourself by taking your child to your local pool, many pools are busy, and many parents can be a bit unconfident themselves about swimming which fear can be transferred to the baby/toddler. In those situations, a formal lesson with a teacher there who could help in an emergency can be a more relaxing atmosphere for a nervous parent to introduce their baby to water.

We took DD to lessons from as soon as she had had her first set of jabs. I am reasonably confident in the water myself so once I got fed up with the lessons I would take her when I thought of it on my own but other things get in the way and we can go several weeks without visits to the pool. When she was doing baby lessons, we went every week.

Since she turned 3, DH takes her to proper swimming lessons where he sits on the side and I agree that is when they start learning to swim. But for the first few lessons there were a number of children who refused to go in without parents and were just showing signs of being scared of the water. DD had none of that and I think it was because of how swimming splashing about in the water has become something she loves.

Bakingtins Thu 07-Nov-13 12:48:18

YABU. I've taken both mine from 4m. The LA mum and baby/toddler lessons are only slightly more expensive than paying for a swim, and committing to a term of lessons means I actually go every week. I agree that being physically strong enough to swim often doesn't come until three or so, but before that it's about developing water confidence, safety skills and having fun. What's wrong with that?

WhereIsMyHat Thu 07-Nov-13 12:58:42

I think they are pointless as a way to teach a child to swim but a good way to instill water confidence. Of course, you can do this by regular pool trips outside of a class and save yourself a fortune in the process.

YouTube link to a toddler saving themselves in a pool. I don't think it's all about the swimming, I think it's about the confidence in water.

Mim78 Thu 07-Nov-13 13:08:36

I'm not sure. My dd (now 5) started swimming lessons a few months ago. She probably learnt as much through going swimming for fun as a family and is only now beginning to swim a short distance.

Her little friend has been having lessons since a baby and can swim 100 m. She might just be v co-ordinated child but I think it must have helped her, if only for the regular practice.

PrimalLass Thu 07-Nov-13 13:10:14

I agree. I spend 700 f-ing pounds with Water Babies before I realised this. shock

currentbuns Thu 07-Nov-13 13:12:20

My 18 month old niece can jump into a pool & can swim both on her front and back - the width of her parents pool. She does live in a warmer country, though.
I'd quite happily have taught my own dc to swim by that age too, if it hadn't involved the horror of public changing rooms and wet hair in mid winter! As it was, they all learnt to swim by around 3.5... so YABU.

Ginformation Thu 07-Nov-13 13:12:26


my 2yo ds has been going to swimming lessons since about 7m. He has always been confident in water, can swim for over 10 seconds under water, can safely splash into the pool from the side, turn himself round, swim back to the side and hold on and he is learning to stay afloat on the surface. The lessons are focussed on building confidence, learning life saving skills and learning to swim. He also loves it. As does dh- it is their special activity they do together.

As someone with personal experience of bereavement through drowning, swimming lessons were high on my agenda. May not be the case for others. But I know that if my ds was to slip and fall into a pond/pool, at least he will have some relevant experience.

supermariosmum Thu 07-Nov-13 13:15:09

A year ago I completely agreed with you OP but after spending time in Australia where we witnessed the majority of kids by the age of 3 swimming, diving, jumping in the deep end etc I think it a great idea to teach it from a very young age.
I do think though that it is taught in a far more relaxed way over there which gets better results.

Weegiemum Thu 07-Nov-13 13:18:59

Depends on the child. I've taken all mine from age 8 weeks, the older 2 loved it - and dd2 (youngest) could swim a length when she was just 3!

littlemrssleepy Thu 07-Nov-13 13:26:36

I agree with others saying that swimming lessons for babies are not about learning to swim - they are about water safety and most of them are labelled as such. Both mine had lessons from 3 months or so. As a result by the age of 1 both, had they fallen into water, would have 1) not panicked and have been at ease being under water 2) been able to float unsupported on their back 3) been able to turn themselves round and kick to the side 4) hold on and wait for help. Both continue to have weekly swimming lessons and both are excellent swimmers - my 5 year old ds swims with kids aged 8-9 and swims 15+ lengths in a lesson. My 2 year old dd has just started in lessons that are no longer parent and toddlers. She is probably the most confident kid in the class, although some of them are 5 or 6. They both love swimming and we also go once a week as a family. Are lessons necessary - no, but regular swimming is in my opinion. Are the expensive - hell yes and if we had to cut back they would be one of the things to go and we would make do with family swim. If my kids didn't enjoy them I would stop once they got to a certain level (my ds is already way beyond it and my dd not far off it). To be honest - if there are kids in your dd's lesson who have had lessons for 3+ years and can only swim 5 metres, I would suggest those lessons they had as babies are likely to have been pretty poor. Whilst some kids are always going to better swimmers than others, my ds could swim at least 100m after 3 years of lessons.

I could swim unaided before I was 3. Surely that's something to be encouraged? confused

Aquariusgirl86 Thu 07-Nov-13 13:28:53

I think it depends on what you are going to swimming lessons for. If you think it will make your child swim earlier then you are probably doing it for thd wrong reasons but if you are doing it to have a bit of fun and to meet other mums and babies then id imagine it would be fun, and better than being bored at home. My friends started taking theirs to a swimming lesson at 9 months and I was going to join them but was already heavily pregnant with ds2 so didn't. The cost was the same as the price of an adult swim which you would pay just for a "fun swim"

imofftolisdoonvarna Thu 07-Nov-13 13:33:34

They are 'pointless' in that before age three they are mostly about just getting used to the water etc. rather th as n teaching any actual strokes and well, I can do that without paying the extortionate price for lessons by just taking my child in the pool myself.

However, as others have said, many baby classes are not about learning an actual skill - it is more about having a nice weekly structured activity, to meet others and to get out of the house. Plus, I don't take ds to lessons and therefore I don't take him swimming as often as I could/should, as I don't have the motivation that I have forked out loads of money so I have to go (last sentence makes no sense but never mind!)

ReallyTired Thu 07-Nov-13 13:44:33

I think that parents who believe its possible to teach a baby water safety are deluding themselves.

" not about learning to swim - they are about water safety and most of them are labelled as such. Both mine had lessons from 3 months or so. As a result by the age of 1 both, had they fallen into water, would have 1) not panicked and have been at ease being under water 2) been able to float unsupported on their back 3) been able to turn themselves round and kick to the side 4) hold on and wait for help. "

I don't suppose you have ever put that one to the test. I imagine that the majority of one year olds would sink rapidly. The majority of one year olds cannot walk yet alone swim.

"To be honest - if there are kids in your dd's lesson who have had lessons for 3+ years and can only swim 5 metres, I would suggest those lessons they had as babies are likely to have been pretty poor. "

My experience has only been with the over threes classes. However dd's teacher also teaches the under threes.

Some of the children who have swam as babies cannot swim fullstop. There is nothing wrong with the teacher as other children do learn. The fact is that some children are not ready for swimming lessons because they cannot concentrate and follow instructions. Developmentally they simply aren't ready for swimming lessons. Such children are better off playing in the water with their families and doing swimming lessons when they are older.

DS loved it, never did actually expecting him to learn to swim or learn water safety (he was tiny, couldn't even crawl when we started), but he had fun and I enjoyed it.

I could have just taken him to the pool on my own, but I can't swim an didn't feel confident with him on my own. Nowadays I will, but I don't regret the "swimming lessons" at all.

littlemrssleepy Thu 07-Nov-13 13:49:08

Not the course my kids did but very similar. Could all kids do this by age 1? No. But at least some of it.

littlemrssleepy Thu 07-Nov-13 13:51:23
Tailtwister Thu 07-Nov-13 13:54:11

In terms of swimming properly in recognised strokes I would have to agree with you OP. We took both of ours to baby swimming classes, but they both started to dislike it at around 2, so we stopped.

They started again in group classes around 3 and the difference is amazing. DS1 (5) in particular has come on leaps and bounds and can do backstroke and freestyle better than I can. When I think back to him when he was 2, screaming and red in the face hating every second it's amazing.

I have seen children who have really taken to it from babies though, but they are few and far between. For me, baby swimming was more of an activity for both of us, a chance to get out and about and do something fun. I don't regret it, but I don't think it did anything towards their swimming ability today.

littlemrssleepy Thu 07-Nov-13 13:54:33

At 9 months of age, which is extraordinary as their swim teacher states. Just because your child couldn't do it at age 1 doesn't mean others can't. Bit annoyed that you basically accused me of lying!

littlemrssleepy Thu 07-Nov-13 13:55:40
KeepingUpWithTheJonses Thu 07-Nov-13 13:58:47

YANBU. I completely agree.

My dc started lessons in July. Ds1 is 5 and ds2 was just 3.

We have always gone swimming regularly, so they are both confident in the water anyway and really enjoy it.

Within 3 months, ds1 has gone from a non-swimmer (Water confidence class, pre-level 1) to level 4. He can now swim two widths completely unaided on front or back, can swim in the deep end to touch the bottom etc. It's been fantastic watching his progress. At 5, he was ready to learn, physically and mentally.

Ds2 has gone from the water confidence class to...the water confidence class. He is NOT learning to swim. He spends the lessons splashing around, getting in and out safely (he could do it anyway), playing games. All the things that we do when we go family swimming anyway, only now i'm paying £9 p/hr for the privilege.

The worst thing is, Ds2 LOVES his there's no way I can stop them as now he'd know what he was missing iyswim? I couldn't now take ds1 every week and not ds2, even though it's apparent it'll probably be months or a year or two until ds2 starts learning from the lessons.

Strokethefurrywall Thu 07-Nov-13 14:00:11

I'm in the same boat (so to speak) as vvviola - I live in the tropics. We have a pool in our garden, every single complex here has a pool and we're at the beach in the ocean most weekends.

As far as we're concerned here, swimming is a necessary life skill. DS is 2 and has weekly lessons plus is in the pool with us most evenings. He loves it, it's all a game to him but at this age all I care about is him getting to the side of the pool if he falls in.

Perhaps not necessary to have lessons in the UK until slightly older but my parents started swimming lessons with us around 3 years and we loved it. And more to the point, it was the single most exhausting extra-curricular activity any of us did and when it comes to nap time, that's important!

Sure, you don't find it important for kids to have lessons before the age of 3, but it doesn't mean anyone else is unreasonable for taking their kids swimming before that age.

Faithless12 Thu 07-Nov-13 14:00:22

YABSlightlyU. Baby swimming lesson are about parental confidence and building the childs confidence in the water.
However, my son as had 'proper' swimming lessons from about 18 months. I hadn't noticed how well he could swim tbh, but when we were on holiday (he was 22 months) an american family stopped me to ask how old he was because he was swimming as well as their 7 year old.

With a swim fin he can swim the length of the pool and he only 'needs' that so he has the confidence to get his head up and breath.

Lambzig Thu 07-Nov-13 14:01:31

My two went from six months and love it. My daughter could swim a width by two and a length by three. My DS is just one and already swimming at bit by himself.

Could they have done that without official swimming lessons? Probably. Would we have ever taken them so often without structured classes? Almost certainly not.

I am a poor and timid swimmer despite liking the water, so wanted my DC to be confident in the water and they do seem to be. Obviously I wouldn't leave them by themselves in a pool yet though.

I do feel sorry for the little ones who cry week after week and seem to hate it. If either of mine were like that I don't think I would have persisted.

Patchouli Thu 07-Nov-13 14:06:26

In my experience I disagree.
DC1 did baby swimming and could swim 10 metres before 2.5 years old. And from there just went on and on with it. At 8 now, she has 1000m badge and swims better than me or her dad.
DC2 is doing a similar baby group now. She loves it as an activity. If the worst were to happen I think she would panic a bit less than a baby who's not used to going under the water, she would be more likely to know which way is up, kick to the surface and hold on to something.

Maybe it's taken more lessons to learn to swim than an older child (2 years ish til DC1 could swim) - but the earlier the better as far as I'm concerned as we live right next to water.

Patchouli Thu 07-Nov-13 14:10:06

Oh and I think it's great that DD can't remember a time she couldn't swim. I must be easier than having to 'learn' it at a bit older.

merrymouse Thu 07-Nov-13 14:12:54

Most 'baby' lessons (soccer tots, music, dance etc. etc.) are pretty pointless in that most children given the freedom to play and move will pick the skills up just as quickly when they are 5/6/7 whether or not they have had 'lessons' as a baby.

However, the classes give the parent somewhere to go, provide some structure to the day and give the child confidence. In the case of swimming they are never not a swimmer - I have never come across a child who did baby swimming as opposed to splash and play sessions who couldn't swim a few metres by the time they were 2 or 3.

DS has some co-ordination issues and was in no way able to take part in a swimming lesson that didn't allow some parent participation when he was 6. (He found it sensorially overwhelming). However, he did small Aquatots classes with either me or DH from a young age and has always known that he can swim.

KittieCat Thu 07-Nov-13 14:14:43

YABU. DS was swimming at 18 months. He is confident in the water and was never afraid of being in the water, going under, splashing etc.

He is almost three now and follows clear instruction from his teacher and can swim and dive very well.

While I hope to goodness it is never put to the test, should be accidentally end up in a body of water he won't panic and will be able to save himself.

Each to their own but swimming is active, sociable and useful. It's also considerably less trying (for me!) than an hour of most other baby and toddler groups! Not that we don't do those too...

WheresMyCow Thu 07-Nov-13 14:14:53

My DS has gone to the local swimming pool for "lessons" since he was about 6 months old - he was 3 a couple of weeks ago. It has cost us the same as it would have done if one of us had taken him swimming

They were parent and baby classes up to the age of 2 when he moved up to the next class...just the toddlers in with the teacher.

He can't swim, but I never expected that he would be able to yet. He can't do lots of the things that other posters have said. He can hold onto the side and make his way to the steps. He can jump in and doesn't mind going underwater and is learning that kicking helps to move him through the water.

We could have done it ourselves, but neither of us are big swimmers and we might have taken him the odd time but it wouldn't have been every week.

Phineyj Thu 07-Nov-13 14:15:13

YABU - our DD thinks swimming pools are the best thing ever and has done since first encountering one aged 6 weeks. 10 months now. She grins and pants with excitement as soon as she gets through the door! There is no way DH would take her if it wasn't a booked and paid for lesson at a specific time - he just wouldn't get round to it and never swims on his own account.

We have both noticed a lot of wailing DC apparently being made to go, however, which does seem pointless.

I think the swimming classes are missing a trick by not marketing directly to parents rather than just mums. I found it quite hard to wrangle DD in and out of the water - DH finds it easy. All our renewals start 'Dear mums...'

PlatinumStart Thu 07-Nov-13 14:16:07

My 2 year old fell in the pool recently and swam to the side and pulled herself out, so I can well believe lessons can be beneficial. That being said she doesn't have lessons but we swim regularly.

For me it's just about time in the water and time spent enjoying something together.

KittieCat Thu 07-Nov-13 14:16:39

Should have added he started Little Dippers at three months

MrTumblesKnickers Thu 07-Nov-13 14:20:06

I think lessons for under threes can be useful, but then I'm in a country where swimming is very common, we live by the beach and a lot of people have pools. People are very safety conscious around the water and kids.

My DD did a water safety course around her second birthday and learned to 'rescue' herself like the child in VisualiseaHorse's video. At 2.6 she can now swim/doggie paddle to the edge of the pool, too.

So I would argue that swimming lessons are probably a waste of time in under threes UNLESS you are going to be around pools/water a lot.

msmoss Thu 07-Nov-13 14:20:24

If you're so sure you're right why are you asking?

Both of my DCs have gone to swimming lessons, we enjoy it and would probably only have been to the pool about twice if we hadn't done this as we're that disorganised.

I'm really sorry the enjoyment we get from this annoys you so much, is there anything else you'd like me to run past you?

littlemrssleepy Thu 07-Nov-13 14:25:59

Little Dippers is what my ds did as well. We then moved out of the London and so my dd did different lessons. My ds's teacher's find my ds very advanced for his age - he was two levels up where they expected him to be when we moved when he was 3. My dd, although very confident for her age, is not at quite the same level as he was and I partly put that down to the fact that the parent and baby sessions she did were not to the same standard as Little Dippers and similar programmes.

bolderdash Thu 07-Nov-13 14:27:19

I think it depends on the dc. Mine took four years to swim a width, starting at age 3.5 but I have seen toddlers swimming lengths. I don't think it's necessary to start that young but if people enjoy it, why not. I found it very hard to fill my days with a baby/toddler - swimming is an activity you can do to fill a morning without having to make small talk with strangers too much.

funnyossity Thu 07-Nov-13 14:29:44

If someone was asking me for advice on when to pay for lessons to get the best "bang for your buck" I'd say wait till 5 or even 6. But get water confident before.

I took mine from 2 and he finally learned to swim above the water at 7! The lessons were a nice part of our routine and money wasn't an issue.

ReallyTired Thu 07-Nov-13 14:32:14

If you are enjoying your baby swimming lessons then that is fine. Our local council pool has baby swimming lessons and all they do is sing nursery rhymes and woosh the babies up and down in the water. If people enjoy such an activity then fine.

I think as far as wailing children goes, there is little point in making a small child unhappy with swimming lessons. However some of the year 5 (aged 9 years old) children at my son's school also cried when they had school swimming lessons.

Blongle Thu 07-Nov-13 14:37:04

A lot of people are talking up the water safety aspect of baby swimming lessons. I would agree that swimming classes are strong on water safety aspects such as turning to grab the side and floating but, in the UK, if they fall into water, it is likely to be a pond or river and will be very cold and murky, possibly with currents and I don't think toddlers who have had lessons will be particularly helped in that situation.

It will be more likely to be of use if they fall into a pool, which is fairly unlikely for most UK children. Obviously, it is going to be very useful for toddlers who live in countries like Australia with a big pool culture.

Fenton Thu 07-Nov-13 14:38:14

After watching VisualiseAHorse 's video (which was as terrifying as it was fascinating) I'm going to say


funnyossity Thu 07-Nov-13 14:39:20

Well yes I think year 5 is too late for many kids.

I imagine the baby swimming posters have described above would get more kids swimming. We were in Australia and our two-and-a-half year old was the oldest in the non-swimming group! The other kids were around water a lot and the teachers were very professional. I found it challenging as a non-swimmer to be ordered to put my head under the water, it wouldn't happen in the style of UK lessons you describe OP.

Blongle Thu 07-Nov-13 14:39:59

If you are enjoying your baby swimming lessons then that is fine. Our local council pool has baby swimming lessons and all they do is sing nursery rhymes and woosh the babies up and down in the water. If people enjoy such an activity then fine.

Now that is another advantage to swimming lessons. I tend to feel a bit of a twat sitting in a swimming pool talking nonsense and singing nursery rhymes. I feel slightly less of a twat if half a dozen other mums and a swim teacher are doing the same thing at the same time. grin

ReallyTired Thu 07-Nov-13 14:55:10

"Well yes I think year 5 is too late for many kids. "

I disagree. People can learn to swim at any age.

Our school does its swimming lessons in year 5 and the year group of 60 is split into 4 groups. The children who can swim are in a group of 20 and the non swimmers were in a group of 10 supported by a TA.

Nearly all of the non swimmers passed their national curriculum swimming test at the end of the year. The children who did not pass had extra lessons in year 6.

The school took a bit of a tough love approach and did not stand for any nonsense when a child refused to get into the water. I think this is fair enough at nine, but it would be wrong to do this with a small child.

susiedaisy Thu 07-Nov-13 14:57:02

To answer the op question I think lessons before 3 are pointless but spending time playing in the water and building confidence isn't !

funnyossity Thu 07-Nov-13 14:58:15

Of course people can learn new things at any age but whole class swim lessons at age 9 when many of the class can already swim were pretty ineffective and humiliating in my experience.

Ledkr Thu 07-Nov-13 15:30:49

All my 5 were swimming unaided by 2 because we have a lovely open air pool nearby where we spend most of the summer.
For that reason I've never taken them to lessons.
However I don't think they are any more pointless than any other toddler activity. Dd2 is 2 and goes to baby ballet but won't be doing pirouettes or point work for a long time yet.
It's just fun with mum at this age.

allmycats Thu 07-Nov-13 15:48:29

My son was swimming unaided at the age of 2 and a half. He had been to the pool with us from being a small baby and started 'lessons' just after his 2nd birthday (he was already confident in the water and doing a sort of doggy paddle like a duracell bunny). The few weeks before he swam alone he had been having his arm band pressures gradually decreased in his lessons and on the day he swam the length of the trainer pool it was an open Sunday morning session and he asked me if he could try without his arm bands. It was really lovely and all the others
in the pool moved to the sides and applauded him !!
It still brings tears to my eyes.
So IMO you YABU different children cope develop at different ages

YesterdayI Thu 07-Nov-13 15:59:14

I lived in California when my kids were little and they used to go in the pool when they were tiny. Lots of my friends babies did the swimming under water thing when they were a few months old. (not sure quite how old)
I didn't do that bug my kids were confident in the water when they were very little. Obviously, you shouldn't trust kids near water until they are much, much older. They could be brilliant swimmers but could still bang their heads or something.

TarkaTheOtter Thu 07-Nov-13 16:13:43

My dd only enjoyed going swimming once we stopped baby swimming lessons. Comparing her at 20 months with her friends who have continued the classes and there doesn't seem to be any difference. They spent 12-16 extra months encouraging their children to "swim" alone under water and turn to hold onto the side when they were too young to follow instruction. I can now just explain to my 20month old an she gets it immediately. I'd expect the same is even more true at 3 years.

MrsMook Thu 07-Nov-13 16:44:53


Swimming is the activity that I do 1:1 with DS2 as I think it's the one that DS1 has benefited most from.

I can't take both on my own in the daytime so lessons are the only way we can access the pool

In the heatwave I appreciated it when visiting a large open air paddling pool. DS 1 was wading around chest deep and playing with balls and sinkers. A few times he slipped and all except once, he calmly corrected himself. Several other older children were quite shaken when they went under. If the lessons mean that he can get himself to the surface or edge safely then that's a good thing.

It was great at using his energy when I was on crutches with SPD last winter as it was one of the few active things I could do with him.

I might be unreasonable if I expected a champion swimmer by starting early or the DCs hated it, but as a fun activity and giving some confidence I think it's a perfectly reasonable activity to do with babies/ toddlers. I aslo don't spend crazy money on £13+ lessons. At the council pool it's less than £4.50 per lesson which is a sensible cost for the resources involved. Given that an open session is £2.50 I'm paying less than £2 extra for the tution and there's more activities and floats avaliable within the session.

Bubbles1066 Thu 07-Nov-13 17:02:26

I also can't take both of mine on my own, so lessons is the only way DS has been able to go swimming since he was 2. I take DD on my own when DS is at nursery so haven't bothered about lessons for her but if DS didn't have them he wouldn't get to go at all. DH is terrified of water so can't swim and there is no one else to watch them so weekends are out too. So in our situation, swimming lessons under 3 were great.

nowwhere Thu 07-Nov-13 17:09:03

I kind of agree with you. Did swimming lessons at 4 months with pfb and felt they were completely missold. Didn't harness the 'mammalian diving reflex' as they promised and didn't get to the stage of holding on to edge by the time I had to go back to work. So they weren't for me but I do agree with introducing little ones to water and the swimming pool environment. Each to their own.

AChristmassyJerseySpud Thu 07-Nov-13 17:15:16

YABU on the grounds that my 2 year old is loving her swimming lessons.

but she has 1 to 1 because her sister is in the pool with another instructor and she loves it.

But it depends on the child.

trixymalixy Thu 07-Nov-13 17:18:41

Yawn, not again.

My two were both swimming independently at 2, they both loved the lessons, I loved the lessons, it got us out of the house when they were little and I was on mat leave yadda yadda yadda.


Quoteunquote Thu 07-Nov-13 17:47:05

self saving baby

There are thousands of uploads of babies and toddlers swimming, children can swim from an early age, if they start correctly.

You can never be a strong enough swimmer, at some point you will be put to the test, it is worth having done as much as possible to increase your chances.

Judging by the amount of people and especially children we pull out each year, most people don't take it seriously enough.

Most people who complain that swimming lessons don't work, only do the lessons,

If you had a music lesson once a week, and failed to do any practice, you wouldn't get very good at playing the instrument very quickly, same with any discipline, you have to practice, get those children in water as often as possible.

We came out of the sea, hung about for a bit, then went back in, when we remerged we lived on the coast line, mainly living on shellfish, which is why our hands and feet go wrinkly when we are in water for a while, clever development for creating a good grip, we are designed for water, we live on a planet that is mainly water.

It is a very bad idea not to learn to swim as quickly as possible, and very stupid to not get accomplished at swimming as fast as possible.

whatsonyourplate Fri 08-Nov-13 09:54:02

I happened upon a baby swimming website recently, and the parents were boasting about how young their babies were when they had their first lesson. Several said 5 days old hmm

I completely disagree with you OP.
I am definitely not bored, it is my favourite activity with ds. You are more likely bored now you are sitting at the side of the pool, I am in the pool looking at the enjoyment on my ds's face.
He started at 8 weeks, and no I don't expect him to swim by 1, but I had a fear of water for years after nearly drowning so I want him to grow up with no fear, and confident in water. Starting swimming lessons at this age does not guarantee it, but it is fun activity for us both. He is learning to splash, kick his legs, and be in the pool in a safe environment with a qualified teacher. He can now kick his legs so he can get up to me from under the water after only 1 term. The life saving skills he will learn are invaluable. The fact we also have so much fun, as a fun activity,and amazing bonding experience is even better. I would not be confident floating with ds on top of me had it not been for these.

PlatinumStart Sat 09-Nov-13 09:56:44

whatson is your hmm directed at the boasting or the age?

DC went in the pool at 3 days and DC4 at 11 days. I don't see it as anything to boast about but was pretty cool

gloucestergirl Sat 09-Nov-13 10:12:09

My friend has been doing baby swimming lessons with their child since he was about 6 months. They love it together as a family activity. Their son loves water and all is lovely and jolly, except for the fact that said child can not distinguish between jumping into water and thin air! I have witnessed him literally diving off a sofa directly onto the floor. Is this a result of swimming lessons that teaches children to jump into the pool (!!) or not being very bright (and I doubt he'll get cleverer by repeatedly doing this)?

clarequilty Sat 09-Nov-13 11:12:39

I live in a building with a swimming pool so we go all the time and my children have learned (not structured lessons, but some help from us) at 2-1/2 years or so. Same as expat kids who spend a lot of free time in swimming pools and often swim quite early.

The kids I know who have lessons seem to enjoy the water less than mine who are simply presented with pool and get on with it and have fun (with some help if they want it)

With my eldest, who is a very strong swimmer, I used to take her as a baby (in Asia) and dunk her from about 8 weeks. Don't know if that made much difference, but she's always been used to a wet head.

I've not ever experienced lessons in a public pool but they sound stressful and expensive. You can easily - very easily - teach them yourself and the best lesson is seeing you have fun in the water and getting your hair wet.

Show don't tell and all that.

clarequilty Sat 09-Nov-13 11:13:54

Should say they were always in the pool from birth but learned to swim independently at 2-1/2.

NotMeNotYouNotAnyone Sat 09-Nov-13 11:36:22

So because your child started at three that's the right age?

If the child and parent are happy then it's none if your business what she child learns to swim. Yabu

lljkk Sat 09-Nov-13 12:05:56

Depends what you hope to get out of lessons so young. I couldn't stomach paying lots for little progress myself, so I view lessons for my under 5s as a waste of money. But if others enjoy it or get other benefits regardless of progress, then why not.

EBearhug Sat 09-Nov-13 12:52:03

I would agree that swimming classes are strong on water safety aspects such as turning to grab the side and floating but, in the UK, if they fall into water, it is likely to be a pond or river and will be very cold and murky, possibly with currents and I don't think toddlers who have had lessons will be particularly helped in that situation.

But it might give them an extra minute, which could make the difference between them being saved or not. It is true though that you're more likely to succumb to hypothermia before you actually drown in UK waters, but anything which gives you a bit more chance has to be a good thing. If it means a child can get to the surface so someone can reach them to grab them, that gives them more chance - especially if the water is so muddy they wouldn't be seen otherwise.

Obviously prevention is better than cure, and learning about water safety with open water is quite different from learning about water safety in a pool environment - but drowning is the 3rd highest cause of deaths in children, so I'm of the opinion that every little helps.

PeriodFeatures Sat 09-Nov-13 13:00:46

YABU. I live near the sea and it is essential that DD has confidence and a natural affinity for water. I'm very confident in water but am not confident with a very tiny baby in water. The swimming lessons we started at 9 weeks are really enjoyable and mean that I will be confident taking her to the pool on my own soon. In the summer we'll swim and bob about on body boards in the sea. When she is a bit older i hope she will join the surf lifesaving club and develop her confidence in moving water...

naicehameggandchips Sat 09-Nov-13 13:06:19

I think the problem can be that the children also get used to the parent being in the water with them and it is these children who often struggle when the time comes for them to be doing classes

naicehameggandchips Sat 09-Nov-13 13:07:07


badguider Sat 09-Nov-13 13:15:34

It's just fun isn't it?
Rhyme time won't make them poet laureate either but you don't see threads about how pointless that is.
I like swimming. Ds is starting in a couple if weeks for ten sessions. If he hates it we'll call it after that.

TarkaTheOtter Sat 09-Nov-13 13:47:16

Rhyme time doesn't cost £100s.

merrymouse Sat 09-Nov-13 14:10:19

naice even if it were allowed I haven't come across a parent who doesn't accompany their under 5 in the water.

SarahBumBarer Sat 09-Nov-13 14:13:30

We take DC swimming at our local leisure centre. Classes cost £4.50 - same as gymbabes, rattle and roll etc etc. You don't have to be sucked into the big name franchises and the standard of teaching is excellent where we go (we have done puddleducks previously).

DC, DS especially, love swimming. How can something be "pointless" when they get so much enjoyment out of it? Baby swimming was one of the most favourite things I did with DC when tiny. I would never be "dying of boredom" whilst spending 30 minutes doing something with my children that brought so much pleasure even had I not enjoyed it.

Seems to me OP that you are justifying your own choices by criticising what other people have done as boring and pointless.

DS (3) is very good around water. He enters and exists the pool sensibly, loves jumping in but always waits until someone is watching him (no other area of his life where he so obedient!) and I think would not panic falling into water because he is so used to the sensation. And as for struggling once we were no longer in the water with him for lessons - bit of a nonsense generalisation, imo sorry. It's not like we had hold of DS constantly in his lessons previously. I'm not aware of this ever being an issue at the lessons we go to.

SarahBumBarer Sat 09-Nov-13 14:13:54

merry - DS is 3. His class is no parents in the water.

natwebb79 Sat 09-Nov-13 14:14:58

We've done Water Babies since DS was 4 months. We've thoroughly enjoyed it and DS can now dive under the water, find the side if the pool to grab hold of and move himself from the deep to shallow end before climbing out. He's 2. I'd say that's a pretty good skill if you get into trouble in deep water. Live and let live. grin

natwebb79 Sat 09-Nov-13 14:15:44

Oh - and there are kids in the bigger class (age 3ish) that have for their 25m badge. I shit thee not.

ScreamingNotWaving Sat 09-Nov-13 14:50:43

I took both DDs to swimming lessons from when they were four months old. It was in the local pool and was really more of a wet play group. It was just mums and babies (in freezing pool) splashing, singing and having fun.

At 4 they both started actual lessons and are now good swimmers. As a family we enjoy water, from waves to boats to surfing so being able to not just swim but feel joy in the water is really important to us. They are real water babes!

Did we need official lessons rather than just going...don't know, but it was pretty cost effective.
Would I do it again? Yes

Mattissy Sat 09-Nov-13 16:47:48

YABVU, teaching babies and toddlers to roll and float has saved many lives. I went to uni in Miami where most homes have pools, I made pin money by reaching babies to find the side when falling into the pool.

My own dc's were taught to roll and float from being weeks old, to this day (12 & 8), I'm confident that if they fell into a lake, river etc they'd survive for hours, even days with this method of self preservation.

Sorry I haven't read many of the replies as I'm so incensed, lol

Tbf, trying to teach them strokes before that age is pretty pointless.

trixymalixy Sat 09-Nov-13 16:49:38

We put DS into the council lessons aged 3 after him going to water babies since 6 months old, no parents in the water, he was not bothered being on his own. Now if you are talking about boring then that was bloody boring for both of us.

He could swim a length, but they couldn't put him in a higher class because of his age. So he spent a couple of sessions splashing with the other kids before we decided it was a waste of time and went back to water babies.

MrsWedgeAntilles Sat 09-Nov-13 17:13:10

YABU. DS has been going to lessons since he was 3 months old. He's calm in the water, he knows to head for the side or something to hold onto ,he can climb out on his own and can float on his back. He's been able to do this since he was tiny and all of this could save his life one day. I would never have known how to teach him this.
Also we both loved it and it gave us both a lot of confidence.
He can also swim pretty well but that's not point.

ThisWayForCrazy Sat 09-Nov-13 17:24:28

My friends children are both fairly confident swimmers that can swim lengths. They are both under 3. YABU

Smartiepants79 Sat 09-Nov-13 17:32:25

Well I have taken both my girls swimming since the were about 6 months.
I really enjoy it
The girls both love the water. It has been very successful.
Neither of them have ever been ill from something they got in the water.
My 3 yr old now goes to 'proper' swimming lessons. She goes in, independently ver happily. She is water confident and has several skills already which put her ahead of some of the rest of the class - float, climb out, push off, go under without crying......
In my opinion the time spent at the pool has been worth every penny and minute!

yabuandyouknowit Sat 09-Nov-13 18:35:48

Swimming doesn't cause glue ear. YAB ridiculous talking about the 'risks'.
If a parent is not confident in the water then swimming lessons give that parent confidence and the babies/toddlers will do much more in a lesson than they would in a family splash about. Most toddlers I have seen love them.
It's also pretty ridiculous to insinuate that children under the age of 3 can't learn to swim or learn safety skills.
Of all the things parents spend a lot of money on, I can't understand why this is one you'd have an issue with.

merrymouse Sat 09-Nov-13 19:11:53

sarah fair enough - I assume that that is appropriate for your child. My point was that if you aren't in a lesson you aren't going to be sitting in a cafe while your 3 year

merrymouse Sat 09-Nov-13 19:17:55

Sorry, 3 year old swims, and it would be odd to skip accompanying your younger child at the pool helping them to get used to splashing/going under water because you thought they might not want to take part in a lesson without a parent. Children naturally learn to be more independent in the pool at their own pace, just like anything else.

VerySmallSqueak Sat 09-Nov-13 19:21:24

I have taught swimming to babies up to adults.

My honest opinion is that a parent/carer who is happy in the water is just as capable at water introduction and confidence as a teacher.

Once water confidence has been mastered a group dynamic can be useful in pushing a child to try new things,and practice rather than play.

starlight1234 Sat 09-Nov-13 19:28:17

My son did water babies since he was 2 months old more than the swimming skills he has loads of confidence and has never worried about putting his head under the water

Yes you are been unreasonable..You can take your child swimming what ever age you want but you make a judgement on other people doing it their way....Their are many right ways to raise a child and teach a child to swim

herecomesthsun Fri 24-Jan-14 18:37:59

My DS was scared of water; we left it till he felt more confident at around age 4.

My daughter is a "natural" in the water and I have taken her since she was a few months old. She is having great fun and loves it. I am much more comfortable doing lessons as I feel much safer

Cheesy123 Fri 24-Jan-14 19:37:28

If I tried stopping my two years old swimming lessons she would freak! She loves it, so what if other kids are doing as well as her in a years time.

OneUp Fri 24-Jan-14 19:57:23

Zombie Thread

ThatBloodyWoman Fri 24-Jan-14 20:01:56

I have taught parent and baby classes.
Tbh I think that they are good if the parent feels the need to have guidance, and if it encourages regular trips to the pool.However if someone who is happy in the water themselves takes a baby regularly, lessons aren't necessary at as early age.It's all about water confidence.

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