New Guidelines to Keep Babies Safe in Swimming Pools

National guidelines to ensure baby and toddler safety during swimming lessons were launched at a Parliamentary reception on 13 October 2015. 

According to the ASA (Amateur Swimming Association) almost half a million babies and toddlers will take part in swimming lessons this year. The Baby and Toddler Swimming Teaching Safety Guidelines have been developed to help keep these children safe in swimming pools and are supported by the national governing body for swimming, the ASA, leading baby and toddler swim school, Water Babies, and leading manufacturer of baby swimming products, Splash About International Ltd. Published by the British Standards Institution, the guidelines set the standard for British baby swimming lessons (up to age four) and underwater photography practices, providing detailed guidance to swim teachers and pool operators, and reassurance to parents.

Baby swimming is one of the few physical activities that can be done from birth, and it provides children with an early awareness of water safety. Since 2013, Water Babies has recorded a 25 per cent increase in the number of infants it teaches with around 45,000 babies and toddlers being taught each week by the swim school alone. This nationwide rise in baby and toddler swimming lessons has also seen a corresponding reduction in the number of deaths by drowning in children aged 0-4 years, with a drop of 25 per cent since 2010, according to the WAID (Water Accident and Incident Database)3.

As well as providing crucial guidance for ensuring the safety and well-being of babies during swimming lessons, the new guidelines also give recommendations on using leak-proof neoprene swim nappy covers over a disposable or reusable swim nappy for under 4-year-olds, and other pool environment factors such as temperature. There are also best-practice guidelines for those that offer underwater baby photography services to help safeguard young children and their parents following a dramatic growth in popularity in recent years4. Commenting on the launch of the new guidelines, ASA Chief Executive Adam Paker, said:

“Swimming is a great activity for babies and toddlers as it helps to improve their coordination and balance, and to develop an early love of the water. Ensuring the safety of babies and toddlers in our pools is paramount. The publication of these Baby and Toddler Swimming Teaching Safety Guidelines means that for the first time there is a national standard for the industry. This will give swimming teachers, pool operators and underwater baby photographers the confidence that they are providing the best services possible, and parents the reassurance that important safeguarding and health and safety practices have been carefully considered.”

Steve Franks, Managing Director at Water Babies, commented:

“At Water Babies, we are extremely proud of our position as the world’s largest baby and toddler swimming company. We take that responsibility very seriously and it is only right that we have played a leading role in establishing these new guidelines for the benefit of all our parents, pool providers and, most importantly, our little swimmers. We are grateful to our partners at the ASA and Splash About for their collaboration on this project, which marks a major milestone for ensuring best-practice across our industry.”

Bernadette Spofforth, CEO of Splash About, added:

“These new guidelines are long overdue and will be game-changing for the industry. Splash About has been promoting cleaner, safer pool water ever since the introduction of its leak-proof swim nappy over a decade ago. We are proud to have worked alongside Water Babies and the ASA to see these guidelines come to fruition.”

The Baby and Toddler Swimming Teaching Safety Guidelines is a British Standards Institution code of practice officially referred to as PAS 520:2015. It is available to buy via

Parents wishing to find out more information about baby and toddler swimming can visit