Need to talk? Call 1800 882 436.
It's a free call with a maternal child health nurse. *call charges may apply from your mobile

Is it an emergency? Dial 000
If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately.

beginning of content

Babies and swimming

4-minute read

Teaching your child to swim will help keep them safe and can be lots of fun. Even young babies can go in a pool, but make sure you follow these tips to look after them when you take them swimming.

When can my baby start to swim?

Babies can go into water from birth. However, they can’t regulate their temperature like adults, so it’s very important to make sure they don’t get too cold. Babies can also pick up an infection from water.

Therefore, it’s generally best to wait until your baby is around 2 months old before you take them swimming. Baby swimming lessons usually start at around 6 months.

If your baby is younger than 6 months, make sure the pool is heated to about 32° C. A large public pool would be too cold for a baby under 6 months.

Never leave your baby unattended near water.

Newborn babies can’t swim – they have to learn, just like they learn to walk. But most babies do enjoy being in water and their reflexes mean they will be able to do primitive swimming strokes. You don’t have to wait until your baby is immunised to take them swimming.

New mothers should not go swimming until at least 6 weeks after the birth, or when they have stopped bleeding.

Where can my baby swim?

It’s best to get your baby used to the water at home in the bath. You don’t have to put them under the water – just let them get to enjoy floating (while you hold them) and the feel of the water on their skin.

From about 2 months you can take them into a heated pool, but don’t keep them in the water for more than 10 minutes at first. If they start to shiver, take them out and wrap them in a towel. Babies under 12 months shouldn’t stay in a pool for more than 30 minutes.

It’s OK to take your baby into a river, lake or the ocean from 2 months, but it’s very important to make sure they don’t get cold. Choose a spot where the water is warm and clean. Watch out for currents that prevent you from holding them properly. And don’t let your baby drink the water.

Young children should not go into hot spas. Spas are only suitable for children over 16.

About swimming lessons

Baby swim classes are designed to get your baby used to the water, help them learn swimming strokes, and to teach them safety and how to survive in the water.

Usually lessons involve a small group of parents and babies who learn through fun activities and play.

You can find swimming classes in your area by asking at your local pool or visiting the Austswim website.

Swimming clothes for babies

Before you take your baby swimming, you will need:

  • swim nappies (take some spare)
  • a towel
  • change mat
  • nappy bag
  • a snack or bottle for afterwards

If you are swimming outside, make sure your baby is protected from the sun with clothing that blocks out ultraviolet light.

Safety precautions

There are lots of risks for babies and young children around water. Babies can drown in just 5cm of water. To keep them safe, never, ever leave young children unattended near water. It is a good idea to learn resuscitation for babies before you take them swimming. You can learn this by doing a first aid course.

If you have a pool or spa it is important to make sure they are fenced according to the Australian Standard.

It is also important to be careful when using floatation devices such as rubber rings - they can make the baby tip over so that their head goes underwater.

Babies can get ill from bacteria or viruses in water that hasn't been treated properly. Try not to let them swallow any water, use swim nappies, and don't take them swimming if they have diarrhoea.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: December 2018

Back To Top

Need more information?

Swimming pool safety for children | Raising Children Network

Supervision is the key to swimming pool safety for children. Also, Australian law says all outdoor swimming pools must have well maintained safety fences.

Read more on website

Pool safety

All domestic swimming pools and spas are required by Queensland law to have a properly installed and functioning pool fence and self latching gate.

Read more on Queensland Health website

Swimming in creeks, lakes, rivers & dams | Emergency services and safety | Queensland Government

Swimming in creeks, lakes, rivers and dams is fun, but there are hidden dangers, which can cause serious injuries

Read more on Queensland Health website

Swimming & flotation aids | Product Safety Australia

Swimming and flotation aids are not safety devices and they are not designed to prevent drowning. Children must be supervised at all times when around water. Children may drown when flotation aids are used incorrectly, do not fit properly, or are faulty or not maintained. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for safe use.

Read more on Product Safety Australia website

Healthy swimming - Better Health Channel

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Swimming - preventing injury - Better Health Channel

It takes only seconds for a child to drown, so never take your eyes off children near the water.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Water safety for kids | Raising Children Network

Close adult supervision at all times is the key to drowning prevention and water safety for kids around dams, ponds, swimming pools, beaches and lakes.

Read more on website

Water safety -

In Australian waterways in the 12 months to 30 June 2017, 291 lives were lost to drowning. Here are some water safety tips for use at swimming pools, inland waterways and the beach.

Read more on myDr website

Drowning and water safety - NT.GOV.AU

Read about how to stop children from drowning at your home.

Read more on NT Health website

Dangerous marine life | Emergency services and safety | Queensland Government

The beaches and oceans of tropical Queensland are home to some dangerous marine creatures that should be avoided to keep yourself safe

Read more on Queensland Health website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this publication or any part of it may not be reproduced, altered, adapted, stored and/or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Healthdirect Australia.