News & events

New report recommends baby swimming for all parents

All parents-to-be and new parents should be signposted to baby swimming as a recommended physical activity, according to a new report.

The new blueprint on early years exercise, says that it should form part of any maternal health programmes developed by pre-natal and post-natal providers.

The strong emphasis on baby swimming forms part of Physical Activity in Early Childhood, a report launched this week (17 October) which calls for a stronger Government focus on early years and exercise.

In reference to last year’s Child Obesity strategy where a nutrition formed the core of recommendations, Baroness Floella Benjamin argues: ‘…schemes and finance streams predicated solely on improving the nation’s nutrition are not in themselves enough.

‘They must go hand-in-hand with the encouragement of physical activity in the pre-pregnancy, antenatal, post-natal and early childhood periods, establishing  patterns for the positive behaviours that  will  reduce our national waistline and support the fit and healthy families that will make a 21st century United Kingdom truly fit for purpose.’

Baroness Benjamin is Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood, who produced the report.

The report is the first of its kind to document the wide benefits of baby swimming physically, emotionally and cognitively for the whole family and coincides with National Baby Swimming Week, taking place 16-22 October.

The report also recognises the proven impact on motor-skills and academic performance on children who have taken part in early years swimming, compared with their peers who have not.

The report also addressed the rise of the controversial Infant Self Rescue lessons and recommends that all child swimming teaching methods be subject to Government research and scientific proofing before being licensed in the UK.

Steve Franks of Water Babies, who sponsored the report, said: ‘It’s really excellent finally to see a report fully acknowledging the overwhelmingly positive effect of infant and baby swimming and its contribution to the fitness, health and wellbeing of the whole family.

‘Swimming really is a holistic activity and the recognition of its strong role in improving bone health, muscle tone, linguistic capability and spatial awareness as well as motor -skills development and cognitive awareness – leading to enhanced academic performance is long overdue.

‘Investing in all aspects of physical activity is a must for modern life. Swimming should be an integral part of such a strategy and not an ‘add on’ or optional extra.’

Find out more about the benefits of baby swimming

‘I love swimming because…’

Little ones love swimming! But don’t just take our word for it – watch for yourself…

If your little one loves swimming and wants to share their love with the rest of the world, then you could win them some brand new swimwear by entering our competition!

Baby swimmers beat national average fitness levels

According to a poll by Water Babies: 91% of babies who swam now aged between seven and eight are physically active for at least 60 minutes a day*, in comparison to the national average which says that only 51% of children are active for at least 60 minutes a day.**

National guidelines recommend that children under five should be physically active for three hours a day and 93% of children who swam with Water Babies meet those national guidelines.***

Finally, only 45% of seven-to-eleven year olds can swim 25 metres unaided****, but 92% of babies who swam now aged between seven and eleven can swim 25 metres unaided!***

Find out more about the benefits of baby swimming

*Survey results based on 116 responses of former Water Babies swimmers who have swam for at least a year
**2013 Millennium Cohort Study
***Based on 159 responses of former Water Babies swimmers who have swam for at least one year
****Source: ASA School Swimming Survey

Seven things to check while choosing a baby swim school

Swimming should be fun, while also teaching your little ones vital skills in a safe environment. Here are seven key things to look out for when choosing a baby swim school:

1) Training

Teachers should have an industry-recognised swimming qualification specific to teaching babies and toddlers. There should also be a trained lifesaver and first aid member of staff available at all times throughout the class.

2) Safeguarding

All employees who work directly with children should have undertaken relevant criminal records checks, have attended a Safeguarding Children in Sport course and have been trained in its swim school’s safeguarding policies and procedures.

3) Health and hygiene

All children under four should wear a double-nappy system for their swim class – a disposable or reusable swim nappy, with a snug-fitting neoprene nappy on top with closefitting leg and waist ribs.

4) Temperature

Pools should be heated to at least 32⁰ for children 0-3 months old, 30⁰ for children 3-12 months, up to a maximum of 35⁰.

5) Pool safety

Swim schools should monitor pool conditions closely to ensure its venues are maintained safely and efficiently. They should carry out risk assessments at each pool to ensure they operate to the highest health and safety standards.

6) Insurance

Swim schools should be fully insured, with both Public Liability insurance and professional indemnity protection to £10 million.

7) Lesson structure

Some swim schools offer a highly-evolved programme, with clear aims and objectives, while others offer something that’s rather less developed, so make sure you know which you’re getting.

Taking a baby underwater is an important part of a lesson structure, but it should never be the main focus of the lesson.

Lessons should always evolve at your child’s own pace, and place emphasis on both of you having fun.


Find out more about the ‘Baby and Toddler Swimming Teaching Safety Guidelines’

The physical benefits of baby swimming

Teaching your baby to swim could save their life one day, but there are lots more reasons to get splashing too!

Babies who swim typically:

  • walk earlier
  • have improved appetites
  • have improved sleeping patterns
  • are significantly stronger and more co-ordinated*
  • have better balance
  • are better at grasping at things**
  • have strong heart and liver functions

Find out about the psychological benefits of baby swimming

*German Sports College, Cologne
**Norwegian University of Science and Technology