USSSA Infant Toddler Guidelines

The Guidelines remain the foundation for the Infant Toddler Instructor Education Program. Each point in these guidelines identifies a core consideration that instructors must implement when developing and instructing infant toddler swim lessons.

  1. The student’s adult caregiver must be educated about the process of learn-to-swim as well as rules regarding safety around water.
    • The swim school should involve the caregiver by communicating (in writing, verbally and visually) the goals, techniques, and expectations. Safety in and around water should be addressed. Examples include: water watchers, pool fences and how to properly do submersions.
    • This does not always necessitate the caregiver being in the water during the lesson but does require that they are engaged in the learning process and understand that any child around water requires constant supervision.
  2. A safe and successful learning environment should be provided.
    • A happy and secure environment that will provide for the baby’s social, intellectual, physical, and emotional growth.
    • All laws and regulations pertaining to water purity, pool care and sanitation must be carefully followed.
    • A warm pool water temperature (87 to 93 degrees – 30 to 34 Celsius) is best to be maintained as a way to provide maximum comfort and a great learning environment.
    • Entrances, locker rooms and pool decks must be maintained in a safe, clean and orderly manner.
  3. Appropriate swim diaper/pant must be worn by infants and young children that are not fully potty trained to minimize the spread of bodily waste into the water.
    • It is the responsibility of swim schools, teachers, and parents to assure appropriate clothing is worn to minimize any possible escape of bodily waste into the water.
    • There must be a snug fit around the legs and waist and there should be no escape of fecal matter through the material. Disposable diapers alone are not adequate – they leak at the waist!
    • Proper areas for changing and disposal of diapers must be provided.
  4. Learning needs to be individualized based on each student’s developmental capabilities.
    • Caregiver and Me group classes should consist of no more than 8 toddlers per instructor per class for children under 3 years old.
    • When a child shows emotional, physical and cognitive readiness, as well as the ability to be separated from their parent or caregiver they can be put into a semi-private or small group class.
    • The key to learning is the emphasis on a positive learning environment while working toward aquatic safety and enjoyment.
    • The teacher, program of instruction, and/or the environment should not be causative factors in a child’s discomfort and/or distress.
  5. During the initial introduction of learning breath control, submersions of young children, over 6 months, must be brief (approximately three seconds) and few in number (no more than six per lesson). 
    • Once the child can consistently initiate the submersions AND can demonstrate competent breath control, submersions can become longer and more frequent
    • Water sessions for children under 3, must not exceed 30 minutes
  6. Instruction should be carried out by teachers who have training, commitment to, and experience in infant toddler swim education, child development, and water safety.
    • Developmental differences occur between the young child under three and older children, thus teachers must have specific understanding, aptitude, patience, and enthusiasm for this age group
    • Teachers must make a commitment to continuous learning in the areas of infant toddler swim education, child development and water safety.
  7. Swim schools should gather any known medical information from caregivers that might affect progress in swimming class.
    • Based upon a swim school’s local laws and regulations and any applicable insurance requirements, teachers and baby swim programs may need appropriate medical release and liability forms completed by the caregiver before beginning instruction.
    • It is recommended that caregivers be advised to monitor their child’s health before, during and after participation in the swim program and alert the swim school or teacher of any change in their health or behavior. There may be cases where a child may exhibit these changes after leaving the pool and caregivers may not think it important to pass that information along.