New Family Information

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Thank you for choosing Waterbabies!

We look forward to partnering with you in the aquatic education of your child, and most importantly - helping them be safer in and around the water. The Waterbabies Aquatic Program is committed to providing a fun, quality, family-centered aquatic education, focusing on family bonding, touch communication and water safety.

Where to Start

If your child has not had previous swim instruction, this chart represents the age-appropriate entry level for Waterbabies classes:

Age Class

4 - 9 months

Parent-Tot 1 (4-9 mos)

10 - 18 months

Parent-Tot 1 (10-18 mos)

18 - 36 months

Parent-Tot 1 (18-36 mos)

3 - 5 years

Beginners (3-5 yrs)

6 - 8 years

Youth 1 (6-8 yrs)

If your child has had previous swim instruction, and you would like to discuss a different level class than what is mentioned in the chart above, please contact the Waterbabies office to schedule a swim assessment for placement.

For enrollment dates & class schedules, click here.

Policies & Guidelines

Before joining our program, all new families are required to read through Waterbabies Registration Policies, Class Policies, Make-up Policies, and Illness Guidelines. New families will also be required to acknowledge their understanding of these policies by signing our liability & photo/video waivers prior to enrollment in a class. You will have an opportunity to do this when you set-up your Waterbabies account and register for class.

The Basics

Our video on the proper swim diaper fit.


Our video on safe entry into the pool.


Pool Etiquette

  • First Timers: Please arrive 30 minutes early on your first day of class to acquaint yourself with the facility, and get ready for class.
  • Sign-in: As our classes take place inside Columbia Athletic Clubs, it is important that we respect the rules and requirements of their business operations. For security reasons, it is required for all Waterbabies parents to sign in at the front desk upon entry to the club.
  • Wait on Benches: We ask parents to wait on the benches at the side of the pool for your class to begin. Do not allow your child to wander on the pool deck or sit on the side of the pool splashing and kicking (this is distracting to the class that is still going on). When the class before you starts singing the Goodbye Song that is the cue to come to the side of the pool and sit with your child to get ready for safe entry.
  • Please enter and exit pool promptly. Only Columbia Athletic Club members are permitted to use the facility/pool before and after Waterbabies classes. If you are not a member of the Columbia Athletic Club where you are attending your Waterbabies class, you cannot get into the pool to swim before or after your Waterbabies swim class. Please respect the member open swim space and remember we all are guests at this facility.
  • Shouting: Do not shout instructions to your child from the side of the pool when they are in class. It is essential to allow the teacher to lead the activity without interruption.

Shower & Changing Tips

  • We recommend you come with your swimsuit underneath your clothes.
  • You must shower off before entering the pool. These showers are on deck. You cannot use shampoo or body wash in the deck showers.
  • If you are using one of the family change rooms, please remember other parents are waiting to use them and be respectful by getting in & out of the family change rooms as quickly as possible. Please do not ‘save’ the family change rooms for your spouse at the end of class. Use is on a first come, first serve basis.

Tips for Success

ATTITUDE: Swimming lessons with your child will be one of the happiest and most rewarding experiences of your life, and your attitude is infectious. Talk enthusiastically about “going to the lesson” and “seeing” the instructor outside of class. Your child may not understand your words but the happiness is contagious. Your body language and tone of voice is letting your baby/child know how you want them to respond to the water. The 30-45 minutes of uninterrupted playtime and direct attention to your child during class is an opportunity for rich connection and joy, so have fun!

  • Model what you are asking your child to do - go underwater together, blow bubbles, hide your eyes in the
    water, etc.
  • If you are fearful of the water, we suggest you join an adult swim class to work through your fears. If you are wary or uncomfortable in the water, your child will feel it and respond the same way – which undermines the purpose of you being in class.
  • Be aware of your language.
    • Avoid negative talk in front of child.
    • Encourage your child to try new things.
    • Empathize with their potential, not their fears.
  • Have fun! Your child’s main mode of learning is play. Play is learning -- learning is play!
  • Smile and laugh a lot.
  • Make eye contact with your child.
  • Tell your child what you are going to do next.
  • ALLOW YOUR CHILD TO EXPLORE & be independent. They can safely discover what doesn’t work as well as what does.
  • HELP THE INSTRUCTOR: Repeat your child’s name often for the instructor.
  • TELL, DON’T ASK: Don’t ask your child (especially 2 year olds) questions such as “do you want to...?” The only answer to a question about something unknown is No. Instead, phrase it as a statement: “Now we are going to...”
  • Don’t compare children -- every child is different and goes at their own pace.
  • Enthusiastically try each skill that is introduced in a lesson at least three times.
  • Crying is the only way a child can express what is going on for them (surprise, disappointment, hunger, or any number of things). It does not necessarily mean he/she doesn’t like the swim lessons. If your child becomes upset during class, stop what you’re doing, hold them close and soothe them with your voice and touch. If your child continues to cry in class, talk with your instructor and ask for some strategies that can help. Some children are over-stimulated by the noise and new people at first, which usually subsides over time.
  • Remember... everything changes: What your child does not like one day can easily become a favorite thing in
    the future!
  • Practice: If possible, it's always a great idea to swim & practice skills at least one additional time each week with your child.
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