When your baby is 5-6 months old, you can join a parent-child swimming class such as the Pollywog class taught by Hudson Valley Swim. You'll be in the water with your baby during these classes, which are opportunities for them to be around other babies and become comfortable in the water – not learn true swimming skills. Your child probably won't be developmentally ready for formal swim lessons until approximately age 3.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says classes for children younger than 3 can be enjoyable and helpful but warns that many parents may become overly confident about how much their child learns in these classes. The AAP advises that an adult be within arm's length – close enough to touch – whenever infants and toddlers are in or near water.
At Hudson Valley Swim, we feel that your child is ready to take swim lessons on their own when they’re able to listen to an instructor for the whole class and follow their directions. Your child should also be comfortable around water before taking swim lessons solo – if they hate bathing or haven’t been around the water much, it might be a good idea to take them to an age-appropriate parent-child class first.
Feel free to ask if you can observe a class before you join. The instructors should run a well-organized class and clearly demonstrate what they're asking parents to do (how to hold a child in the water, for example). There should be a lifeguard on duty at all times.Other things to look for: A warm pool, which makes getting in much more comfortable, and a class with no more than 10 parent-child pairs – so you can hear the teacher and have plenty of room to play in the pool.