My Kids can't, one is on the spectrum and has no sense of danger and basically doesn't do anything I ask, and another is 2 and has no sense of danger and is a cheeky 2 year old who also doesn't do what i ask. The other two would be fine and sit on the side if I asked them. My DH works shift work - but worse, he can't swim either.
Feeling their actual body weight in the water. It's a great start though.
I've been to 4 different swim schools and not once have I seen any of them use floaties. I don't think they're a good idea.
I'd have to hire a babysitter to look after the others ones, and then also take the other two separately, so 3 times a week. This is why I always get overwhelemd and think we'll do it next season! DS1 has intensive swimming at school for 2 weeks soon, I'll continue him on after that.
My 6 yo old has had lessons from 6m onwards, she can sort of swim but there is no way she would save herself if she had to swim in sea or if she got disorientated. She isn't particularly coordinated but absolutely loves swimming and her weekly lesson. My 3 yo can almost swim as well - he didn't have formal lessons until last term but he is gung-Ho and determined. Very very few children 6 and under have perfect/beautiful technique at the pools and lessons I've watched.
You can save your money and just take bubs regularly yourself or join a class with other parents and an instructor for more experience as well as fun.
So my answer is, it's never too early to get them in the water one way or another.
And yes, I do think every child should have the right to learn to swim as early as possible.
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