Toddler/preschooler Swimming Lessons

Updated on January 19, 2011
M.S. asks from Minneapolis, MN
15 answers

My husband wants to have our daughter, who will be 3 in a couple months, start swim lessons. I'm not sure. In the summer time we go to the beach and our neighborhood pool in the summer I encourage her to be in the water. We play in the water, I help her "float," etc. So she is comfortable in water and learning some basic things.

My questions are: Would swim lessons at this age be much more than that? (getting her comfortable in the water and using her body in it) What's the ideal age to take swim lessons where she will actually learn to swim? Does anyone have experiences with Foss or other swim lesson places, positive or negative?

I would like her to have lessons at some point because my husband is aquaphobic and I have really lousy swimming technique, but I'm not sure what the best age to begin is.

Thanks for the input!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Thanks for all the great advice. Regardless of where we live, I agree that swimming is an essential skill that I want my daughter to have, and after all your comments I will definitely jump on board with my husband and look for some lessons sooner than later! Thanks!

Featured Answers



answers from San Antonio on

3 or 4 is a great time to begin swim lessons!

The child needs to be able to pay attention & follow simple instructions.
Sometimes, after age 6 or 7, children become afraid of the water and are harder to teach.

The instructor must really love children and be able to communicate with them. Look for small group lessons---my opinion, never more than 3 preschoolers in a group. And warm water! If the water is too cold the child will not respond well.

Have 3 boys who were all successful high school swimmers and I am a coach and swim instructor.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Redding on

Both of my kids were in the water from the time they were infants. Babies actually instinctively know how to hold their breath. I, personally believe that all children should have swimming lessons. It's not about becoming an Olympic swimmer, but learning water safety and what to do if you get in trouble. Did you know one of the main reasons people drown is because they panic?
Swimming lessons at an early age can be real life savers.
My son loves the water and he was actually recommended for a swim team. He was the youngest in and advanced class and got medals. He was just a little guy. My point is that I don't worry about him swimming in any situaton and he knows how to help someone else in trouble. These are very good things to know.
They usually start out with feeling comfortable with your face in the water, learning to turn your head from side to side to catch a breath, and the all importance of learning how to float on your back. The kicking and arm movements are secondary to all of that. They also teach how to "bob" if you get in water over your head. Bobbing is where you hold your breath, touch off the bottom and kick up for air and bob towards a shallower end.

I think your daughter is a perfect age to begin lessons and I don't believe you will ever be sorry about it.

Best wishes!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

I think 3 is a great age to start. I wouldn't start any later. We have a friend who's a swim coach and he suggested starting her as a toddler to get her used to the structure and swimming. My DD turned 2 in October and is starting at the end of the month. It's also a fun activity for her and DH to do.



answers from Minneapolis on

I started my kids when they were 9 months old. I just wanted them to have fun in the water. By 3, they learn strokes, technique and water safety.
I have checked out Foss and it seems way overpriced. I had my kids in Lifetimes Swim program. I have also heard the Y has a great swim program. They all seem to be about the same.



answers from Phoenix on

My daughter is 21 months old and has been taking weekly swim lessons for 9 months now. At her age, they start out working at being comfortable going under water and floating on their backs, surfacing on their own, learning to kick and blow bubbles, etc. Now she knows how to jump into the water, turn back around to the wall and climb out on her own, she swims about 6 feet underwater to find the wall on her own and she's working on independent back floating and rolling into a back float after jumping in. The back float is something that our swim school stresses throughout all ages as a safety measure. With the older kids, I know they work on independent swimming, independent back floating, learning actual strokes, etc.
I highly recommend starting swimming lessons of some kind, since they teach children lifelong water skills and water safety.
Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

My daughter started swimming at the YMCA at 6 mos old (she was attending daycare at the Y). She is now 8 and loves to swim and is in the top level of swim lessons there. I've heard just as good things about the YWCA swim program.

I think the younger the better for starting to swim and having swim lessons. Living in MN, I feel that the ability to swim is an absolute requirement for safety. Besides swimming being fun, social, and good exercise.


answers from Chicago on

My 3.5 year old daughter began at 3 and she LOVES IT! We do it through the YMCA and it is very structured. They work on stroke development, face in the water, swimming on side, back, facedown for a certain distance between 3 and 6 until they move you up to the next level depending on skill development. The lessons are also reasonable and with certified instructors. You do not have to belong to do the swim lessons there either -- just costs more if you don't. My husband is a lousy swimmer and I do triathlons (and swam in high school for a team but got a late swim start at 12)...I wanted to start early with my kids.


answers from Modesto on

Mine were in the pool when they were infants. I'm not sure what the perfect age is. I know I was swimming by age 3, mine were swimming by age 1. If she likes the water and once she learns not to inhale it (which unfortunately is always learned the hard way by ALL of us), the swimming part comes pretty easily after learning to breathe.



answers from Charlotte on




answers from Minneapolis on

I have 3 children who have all learned to swim at Foss. Yes, they are expensive, but I say they are worth every penny. My kids all love to swim, and have really good technique. We tried community ed with our oldest before going to Foss, and the freezing cold pool combined with the water being too deep for her to touch the bottom anywhere made for a less than ideal situation. We love Foss!



answers from Minneapolis on

I think the best age for a child to learn how to swim (actual swimming not just being comfortable in the water) depends on your child, but 3-4 is reasonable. My second son started swimming lessons at 3 and loved it so much he was swimming laps by 3.5. On the downside for him was that he flew through the levels so fast that he was in group lessons with children 5-6 years older than him. Socially, this was really tough on him and we ended up putting him in private lessons.

My third son though started swimming at 3 and lasted only one session with LOTS of coaxing even though he loved the water. He just was not ready to be able to follow instructions, take turns, etc. We tried again at 4, still not ready. Just before he turned 5, we tried once again and he took to swimming like a fish.

My fourth started swimming lessons at 3 as well, but it was mostly just getting her really comfortable in the water until she was about 4, then it really kinda clicked for her and she started learning the basic strokes.

We have gone to Foss, Lifetimes, YMCA, and community ed classes. Foss was wondeful, great instructors, small classes and warm water. But they are on the expensive side. Lifetime and YMCA are both fine reasonably priced and decent instructors. The community ed classes have been hit or miss. We have tried district 833 and were REALLY disappointed. Then went to district 622 and have been quite pleased with the instructors, but the group sizes are larger. We did private lessons through district 622 and they were fabulous (and still less than group lessons at Foss).



answers from Minneapolis on

Foss is awesome and I highly recommend it. She is the right age to start.



answers from Minneapolis on

In the past the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended against formal swimming lessons for kids under 4, because most kids do not have the level of physical coordination to swim independently until at least age 4, but they revised their guidelines last year:

I know many people love Foss, but I've got kind of shy, sensitive kids, and they found Foss to be noisy and crowded. We like Family Swim School - same basic premise (4 kids per class) but much smaller and calmer.

Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

We had my son in lessons around 2 at the community center which was fine but when he saw other kids playing at the same time, he just wanted to play. So after a summer where he absolutely loved being in the water and had no fear, we decided it was time to take the next step and enroll in Foss. I love it and he listens well to the instructors. We don't have a Y very close and don't belong to any fitness club so this was our only option. It is a little noisy, as one mom wrote, but there are only 3 in his level of class and I see him learning so I am happy with it. We'll see how this summer goes!



answers from Milwaukee on

The toddler swimming class I took both my daughters to is just that. You going in with the child in the water. They are not learning any technique at 3. We played some fun games and they learned how to hold their breath under water but that was about it.
My oldest we started with swimming lessons at age 5. She was able to follow directions at that time. I was always comfortable with the water and didn't have structured classes. My youngest is now 5 and we will be taking her to swim classes over the summer as we are going on vacation in the fall.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions