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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.

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.

VisualiseAHorse Thu 07-Nov-13 13:03:38

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.

PumpkinPositive Thu 07-Nov-13 13:27:38

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.

MurderOfGoths Thu 07-Nov-13 13:47:42

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

At 9 months of age. SO to

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!

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