How to Teach Your Baby To Swim by Douglas Doman

How To Teach Your Baby To Swim from birth to age six by Douglas Doman is a long awaited book on introducing newborns to swimming. A detailed set of instructions, beautifully illustrated with photographs, is separated into 8 chapters, having a chapter dedicated to each age segment. Well written and easy to understand, it has quite a lot of wonderful techniques:1

  • how to utilize your own bathtub and shower for introducing newborns to holding a breath
  • how to walk backwards in a pool creating a current that makes it easier for the little ones to swim continuously
  • how to structure the lessons and how to teach jumping from the wall
  • most importantly – how to introduce skills necessary for children’s safety and survival in the water
  • … and many others.

The downsides of the book were:

  • the book starts with a newborn and doesn’t provide any advice on how to make their suggestions appropriate for kids starting at an older age. Therefore, until my one year old reached the skill level they described for his age, it wasn’t very useful to us.
  • once a baby is large enough to reach the floor of the bathtub, the book recommends to acquire a Japanese bath – a deep bath similar to a gigantic bucket, that allows an adult to sit on a special bench inside to continue practice with floating and jumping into it baby. If you have no indoor swimming pool or other similar expensive deep places to continue practice, there are no suggestions on how to continue with the program.
  • the book insists to daily exercises. I think it is a great idea to practice on a daily basis but it is quite unrealistic for the most people. Most of the public indoor swimming pools have both age restrictions for kids (I believe they have to be at least 6 months) and time restrictions: our pool allows family swim just once a week, for an hour and a half at a specifically alloted time slot.

Summary: if you have a newborn, and money or equipment for a tiny swimming baby – this book is indispensable. If you have a toddler who already has a beginner skills, not afraid of submerging his face into the water and you are looking for wonderful tips on how to improve his level, you would find a lot of useful information. If you are looking for techniques to improve your three, four, five… year old’s swimming level (i.e. your child already can swim by that age!), you still would find this book helpful. Otherwise I personally prefer the Learn to Swim (Dk Childcare) by Rob McKay and Kathy McKay.

Other related resources:

  1. Learn to Swim (Dk Childcare) by Rob McKay and Kathy McKay (see more about this book in the article below)
  2. Water Babies: Teach Your Baby the Joys of Water- from Newborn Floating to Toddler Swimming Books by Francoise Barbira Freedman (I haven’t used this book, but I’ve heard some good reviews on it. You can find reviews at amazon, another at eopinions)
  3. Newborn Baby Swimming for few days/months old baby in a bathtub approach (unfortunately, video instructions are only in Russian)