There are a number of rec centers that offer swimming lessons for babies and toddlers for free or at low cost in Toronto. You can search for them here on the city of Toronto website. Even though it’s not the closest though I prefer to go to the newly renovated Regent Park pool for both lessons and drop in swim. You can see the programs currently offered at Regent Park here.
The Best Pool for Babies
Regent Park is in my opinion the best city pool for babies and toddlers. The main draw is that I believe it is the warmest city pool. They have a dedicated toddler pool which is very large but still a couple degrees warmer than a regular pool. The don’t have slides or as much for older kids but there are water fountains, bubbles, and a waves area. They also have lots of baby toys available including a cute foam floating seat that you can use to pull your child around in the pool (pictured below).
There is a special drop-in preschool only swim (kids under 5) that is reserved Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 11am – 12:55pm.
Although you are also welcome to take your kid to the general leisure swim. Times are on the city of Toronto page under the drop-in tab: https://www1.toronto.ca/parks/prd/facilities/complex/2012/
Guardian Swim Lessons
I signed my son up for guardian swim lessons which he started shortly after he turned 6 months. His naps were still all over the place but despite this we managed to make to most of the classes and they were great. You can find classes on the city of Toronto website that are open to babies 6+ months old they are listed as Guardian Swim 1, 2, & 3.
The classes include practicing a number of water adjustment skills to prepare for swimming such as floating on their back and dunking in water. There are also a number of songs we sing in class modified for water such as “If you are happy and you know it” modified with water actions such as “splash the water”. There are also some games such as Simon Says modified for water play.
At the end all the kids get a report card which says which skills they completed and what class they can do next. Basically you keep repeating guardian swim until your child has mastered all the skills and moved up to a non-guardian assisted class. I imagine this won’t happen until they are at least a few years old. I though the report card was pretty cute. The instructor wrote about all the things Jacob “worked on”.
We didn’t get a chance to sign up for the fall session because all the classes were during his nap time 🙁 but we will be definitely trying to sign up again for winter! In the meantime I will try and take him to the preschool swim drop in a few times to keep his “skills” sharp! 😉