Frequently Asked Questions, Hints & Tips


Joining Aqua Babies

At what age can I bring my baby to Aqua Babies classes?

You can begin with your baby as early as you are comfortable. We have some babies in the water at less than a month old.  Many babies begin their first course between 2 and 6 months old and we find it is better to begin before a baby reaches 12 months.  However the window of opportunity still exists from 12 – 18 months, where initial submersions and water adjustment take place and we are happy for you to start classes up to 18 months.

We also have classes at The Aqua Babies Centre that are specifically for children over 18 months (and under 3 years) and have great success with this adapted program. Please call us should you wish to start a child of this age.

How do I book and pay for a first course?

Once you have decided which pool or pools suit you please complete a booking form which will place you on our waiting list. Course dates can be viewed on the calendar displayed on the individual pools’ pages.

Should you have any questions regarding the courses or pools or anything you wish to know further then please contact us or telephone 0161 973 1931.

After completing the form you will receive an automated reply confirming we have your details. We will then keep you informed with the dates for the next course and give you an idea of our booking time scale for it.

Once the spaces are released we will call you to make your booking.  At this point you can book any available pool and day – please note you can change your initial preferences should you prefer.  We will check your details, chat with you about your course and take payment over the phone. We use a secure SagePay system for card payments and SagePay store your details safely and securely for us so we can both allocate any refunds if they are due and easily book your future courses for you via our automatic rebooking system.

Are your teachers qualified and what insurance do you hold?

Aqua Babies trains and employs qualified baby-swim teachers.  At the head of our team we have two STA Baby and Pre-School tutor examiners.

All teachers hold up-to-date and relevant STA baby and pre-school qualifications and have trained for a further 3-6 months beyond this.

Each teacher also holds a recognized life-saving qualification, RLSS, NRASTC or equivalent,  which is updated every 6 months. In addition to this all teachers have an enhanced CRB check.

Aqua Babies holds STA affiliated Club and swim school insurance with Ault insurance, covering all members and staff. In addition to this each teacher is a member of the STA and therefore holds personal insurance.

Aqua Babies is also STA mark accredited to distinction level, ensuring high safety standards and quality conforming to all health and safety standards.

STA – Swim Teachers Association
RLSS NRASTC – Royal Life Saving Society, National Rescue Award for Swim Teachers and Coaches

Does my baby need to have completed immunisations before we begin swimming?

Aqua Babies follows government health guidelines which state: ‘The Department of Health recommends that you can take your baby swimming from a very young age. There is no need to wait until they have been vaccinated.’
NHS Choices

How long is a course?

Each course is 10 weeks long with breaks for school holidays – sometimes mid-course. Depending on school term times and bank holidays some courses may be 9 weeks long.  We will email you your course dates and any holiday breaks in advance.

What does my baby need to wear in the water?

Babies must wear two special swim nappies.

  1. A disposable swim nappy or a washable nappywrap with liner.
  2. On top of this must be a special ‘Happy Nappy’. This nappy has a tight seal around the leg and waist and has been specially designed for baby swim schools. Your Happy Nappy can be paid for with your course fees and will be supplied and fitted at your first class. It must be a snug fit – unfortunately we cannot allow any room for growth!

You must be using both nappies to be allowed into class as nappy leaks into the water mean we have to cancel classes for the whole day to clean the pool. All children on the Aqua Babies programme must continue to wear both swim nappies beyond potty training as accidents still happen!

By ensuring well-fitting nappies are worn we keep our nappy leak cancellations to a minimum.

You can buy Happy Nappies and nappywraps when paying for your course; they will then be fitted for you at your first class. Disposable swim nappies can be purchased from all supermarkets.

What changing facilities are available?

For Aqua Babies the pool, it’s temperature and it’s suitability for babies are our top priority. Suitable warm pools, often school hydrotherapy pools, tend to have minimal changing space with showers at some.  Apart from The Aqua Babies Centre where wall mounted baby changers with straps are available, we advise that the safest place to change your baby is on a mat on the floor. For hygiene reasons we ask that you bring a mat with you. We ask parents to arrive no more than 15 minutes before class and clear up after themselves so the space is available for the next baby.

All changing rooms are shoe free zones as this helps us keep any dirt from transferring into the pool.  They are also food free zones -including snacks and raisins – many pools have other areas for feeding or snacking after class.

The specific set up of each pool’s changing facilities is available on the pools pages with more detailed information given on your confirmation email. We are here to help and should you have any queries or suggestions please contact us so we can look into them for you.

Do I need to be able to swim myself?

All our pools are in depth – water comes up to chest height on a 5ft 2in person – so you do not need to be able to swim. If you are very nervous in water please discuss this with us when booking. We are more than happy for you to attend classes and we have found many parents increase their own water confidence during classes. We like to give your teacher as much information as possible and they will subtly ensure you are comfortable during class.

Some of our exercises invite parents to go underwater to meet babies as they swim, however you are never asked to do anything you are not comfortable with and these sections of the course are in no way compulsory!

“Aqua Babies is a really warm, friendly environment; i have met lots of lovely parents and my little girl thoroughly enjoys classes. I like the fact teachers go at the pace of each child, you never feel forced into doing something you don’t feel comfortable with.” Nicola with baby Lana

When should I feed my baby before class?

It is advisable to feed 1-2 hours before class; however babies who are breast or bottle fed can have a small feed any time. Babies and toddlers on solid food should have a 2 hour gap and we advise our older toddlers and pre-schoolers to avoid a heavy meal even with a 2 hour gap. They work hard in the water, which on a full tummy can result in lunch coming back up into the pool! Babies and children really do work up an appetite during class and will be ready for a snack after they are changed.

What if my baby is unwell?

It is not wise to bring your baby swimming with anything more than a mild cold. Please consider the other babies in your group as your baby will spread infection and is unlikely to enjoy swimming at that time.

Swimming should not make a cold more severe, nor causes one.  We advise you wrap your baby up well after class and pop on a hat.

Swimming does not cause inner ear infections, however if your baby has an ear infection please do not swim until it has cleared up, as it will be uncomfortable and your baby’s ear should be kept dry until it is clear. If your baby has repetitive ear infections you can purchase ‘Ear Bandits’ for swimming, and seek advice from your GP or consultant.

Babies or Adults experiencing sickness and/or diarrhoea must not swim for two weeks to ensure other babies are not infected. Some infections (such as cryptosporidium) causing these symptoms are easily spread in changing areas and are also resistant to chlorine. This means they can temporarily contaminate the pool should any faeces enter the water. As it can take at least 2 weeks for a doctor to diagnose this type of infection (and due to the fact these infections often seem to clear up for a couple of days only to return again) it is essential you refrain from swimming for that period of time.

If your child has any other infection such as chicken pox, please do give us as call so we can advise you of the best time to return to class.

If your child has Eczema or other skin condition they can still swim, please call us as certain pools (such as The Aqua Babies Centre) use U.V. disinfection which reduces the amount of chlorine used and also those with good shower facilities for after class, can keep any irritation to the skin to an absolute minimum. We have many children happily attending class with skin conditions.

Unfortunately for short periods of illness we are unable to refund your class fee. For longer periods of illness please contact us and we can look at issuing a credit note for use on a future course (doctor’s note required). For details on this and all other policies please refer to our terms and conditions.

Aqua Babies Members

How do I book my next course?

Aqua Babies operates an automatic rebooking system to secure your place on your next course. This will occur during the middle of each term for the subsequent term, allowing plenty of time for you to discuss your course and your baby’s swimming with your teacher.

How does automatic rebooking work?

During weeks 5 and 6 of your current course we will send you information regarding the following term. This will include course dates and term fees together with a date that is your deadline to notify us should you wish to change or cancel your future course.

This information will be sent to you via email, text message and poolside notices.

Should you wish to transfer or cancel for the next term please inform us by return email or by following the text message instructions you will receive before the deadline date given.

Should we not be informed of any wish to transfer or cancel we will book your next course for you.

Should you decide after the deadline has expired that you no longer wish to swim our cancellation policy is applied.

Once we have rebooked you will receive an email informing you of your course details including the class time and payment dates for it.

Should you chose to pay for your course with cash this must be received by your teacher or at our main office address by the last payment date given on your email

We will send a final confirmation email once payment has been successfully taken.

Will my next course be at the same time as my current one?

Our classes usually have a small time change (though not always). This enables our smallest babies the time and space they need during their first term.

Sometimes due to parents needing to move their class day we need to merge two classes together.

We do our best to move your time by as little as possible and our automatic rebooking system allows for a half hour time difference. Any more this and we will contact you in advance of taking payment.

Can I move my class next term to a different day or pool?

Should you wish to move your day or pool please let us know before the automatic rebooking deadline. This can be done by replying to your rebooking email or by following the text message instructions you will receive. We will ask you to confirm where you want to move to and importantly if you want to remain with your current class if we cannot accommodate your transfer.

As soon as we have allocated the current spaces all members on the transfer list will be contacted.

I’m having another baby which is due next term, can I continue my classes?

There are two ways we can help you continue your classes:

Firstly, if you would like to continue your classes as far into your pregnancy as you feel capable of doing without missing a term, then rebook your next term as usual. When you are ready to take a pause in classes please call us and we will make a note on your file that you are taking a maternity break. Once you are ready to return to class call the office again and let us know. We will then allow up to a maximum of 6 credits towards your next course. This allows you 6 weeks’ worth of classes at no further cost to you. This is offered as credit only for your next course as it is our way of helping you and your toddler through your family adjustment. Of course, should you prefer, you can choose to miss a course and re-join at the start of a future course.

Secondly, once you are ready to return we allow you to bring baby in a carry car seat to stay on poolside during your class. Please take coats and thick clothing off baby as it gets too hot when fully dressed! Most babies sleep through whilst you are in the water, however you will need to attend to your baby should they need you. Once your baby is too big or too mobile to sit in their car seat, you would need to ask another adult to come with you, should you want to bring baby to class with you. However for the initial months we find this arrangement works well for many mums and enables the special time with your toddler to continue in the water.

I have booked my next course but now need to cancel, how do I do this?

Please feel free to call us with any issues that are affecting your ability to come to class; we may be able to help.

Should you need to cancel a booked course you can do so up to 10 days before the start of your first day of term. Please confirm your need to cancel in writing – email is acceptable for this – and you will receive a refund of your course fees paid minus the £20 cancellation fee that is applied. Our cancellation policy can be seen on our terms and conditions.

How do I get an underwater photo of my baby?

Aqua Babies has worked for over 8 years with Caramel Photography. Together we organise regular photo shoot days throughout the year, during the holiday break periods. We aim to have some of those days to include a weekend day, others are on a weekday.

All photo shoots take place at The Aqua Babies Centre.

Babies need to have completed a term and a half of swimming with us and be comfortable with their submersions. On booking we will confirm with your teacher that your baby is ready to attend

When a date is arranged we will email all parents and open booking spaces via our website.

For all photo-shoot information please see our photo-shoot page.

Can I take photos at class?

Please refer to our photography policy and remember that our own policy is over-ridden by any policy that is in place at a pool we hire. If they do not allow any photography we cannot either.

My baby/toddler isn’t happy at class at the minute, what do you recommend?

There are many reasons a baby or toddler can become unhappy in class, issues such as teething or separation anxiety come into play. Sometimes routines change with regards to nap times and feeds. Even moving house, starting nursery or a sibling arriving can have an effect in the pool! Then of course there are the terrible two’s – which seem to begin much earlier than the name suggests!

Some babies go through an unsettled phase that can seem specific to swimming. Although it can be linked to developmental milestones such as depth perception (where suddenly your baby realises his feet are not touching the floor when in the pool). This unsettled phase commonly happens around the age of 12 months and can be frustrating when your baby has been very happy so far.

It is important not to stop coming to classes during this time.

Your teacher is experienced with this in during classes and can talk you through it, adjusting your programme accordingly. Your relaxed positive attitude will help.

Your teacher will also be more than happy to call you to discuss your classes and what methods we can use during lessons that will help ensure your baby or toddler becomes settled and happy once more. It is very important to us that we work together with you as parents.

Please feel free to call or email us whenever you want to discuss any aspect of your lesson and your teacher will get back to you before your next class.

“I chose to take my daughter to the Timperley pool as it was recommended by a friend. My daughter was distressed for a period of time during her swimming lessons. My teacher Michele reassured me that many babies go through this stage and persevered and supported my little girl, giving me confidence to carry on with the lessons. She has been excellent with my daughter, and my little girl now loves going swimming to see ‘Shell’, as she calls her!” Beth Bishop with toddler Sookie

I’m going to miss some sessions, is there anything I can do?

Babies miss class for a wide variety of reasons, from illness to family holidays. As we book each baby for a full course we are unable to refund for those missed sessions.

Your teacher will get to know you well and plans for each lesson, according to each baby in the class and their individual needs. We can, therefore, assure you that the odd missed lesson for these reasons will be catered for in class and you will not miss out. Should you need to miss for a long period of time please call the office to discuss your options.

When going on holiday parents can find it hard to decide whether to book the next course or miss a term and return for the subsequent course (therefore having a possible 3 month gap in classes). Whilst making this decision please consider that coming to class right up to the start of your holiday and returning to class straight away on your return has great benefits, and you can practise your swims and skills whilst you are away. We find babies and toddlers come on in leaps and bounds swimming everyday on holiday. This increased practise and confidence can be added to by your swift return to class. Then nothing is lost with a break in your swimming. These benefits can far outweigh the loss of class fees while you are away.

If you decide that due to a holiday you wish to miss the next concurrent course, returning for the term after, please let us know.  We will do our utmost to accommodate you on your return for the following term, although understandably we cannot hold a place open and empty for a full term.  Knowing you wish to return will help us organise the classes with you in mind and we will continue to treat you as a current member by sending out a booking reminder for you.