If you’re thinking about offering baby swim classes, you’re in for a treat. Inviting parents and babies to come and enjoy baby swim lessons together is one of the nicest ways to create an atmosphere where both can have fun while the baby gets used to the water and the feeling of “swimming” for the first time.
But you may be wondering how exactly to start offering baby swim classes. After all, it’s not quite as simple as “just add water.” You’ll need to make sure you have an appropriate location for your baby swim classes, have planned times and dates to offer baby swim lessons, and have the appropriate safety measures and equipment in place.
You’ll also want a plan for how you’ll spend the time during class, to create an engaging experience for both the parent and the baby. And finally, you’ll want to think through all the business considerations, from how to advertise to what to charge.
If you’re ready to take the plunge and begin offering baby swim lessons, we’re here to help with advice and tips to get you started.
Conduct Market Research
The first step to opening any business is to research the market. You need to identify the potential demand for baby swim classes in your area. Are there other baby swim schools in the vicinity? If so, what services do they offer, and what is their pricing strategy? Understanding these variables can help you develop a unique selling proposition and pricing strategy that stands out in the market.
Location, Location, Location
The location of your baby swim school is one of the most important factors to consider. Ideally, it should be in a safe and quiet area, away from heavy traffic and accessible for parents.
Additionally, the pool area should be clean, maintained, and offer ample parking for parents and staff. In order to start offering baby swim classes, you’ll need a pool first. This will require some calling around: you’ll need to scout appropriate locations for your lessons, and this means contacting a few different venues to find the right one.
You might start by calling your local community pool, the local YMCA, area high schools or colleges, and even gyms near you. Many have pools for students or members to use, but not all of them will be willing to rent out the space for baby swim classes. That’s why it’s important to make a list of all your options first, then call around to see:
- Can you use the pool at certain days and times? If so, how do you book the space and what will it cost? How far in advance do you need to reserve pool space? Will you be sharing the pool with others at the same time? What are the cancellation policies in case you need to cancel a class or block of classes?
- Is the pool appropriate for baby swim classes? A smaller pool where parents can stand with their babies works well, but so does the shallow end of an Olympic-sized pool.
- Are there specific facility guidelines you must follow? For example, is there a limit to the number of people you can have in the class? Does a lifeguard have to be present while class is in session? Does everyone using the pool have to observe specific health measures?
Determine the Regulatory Requirements
Swimming schools need to comply with a range of regulations covering child safety, emergency planning, hygiene and more. Contact your local government office to discover what is required. Ensure that you obtain the relevant certifications and permits to operate your swim school legally.
Facilities and Equipment
You will need to invest in equipment and other facilities to run the baby swim school. Pool heaters, pool cleaning products, baby changing areas, and baby floats are some of the things you will need to have readily available. You may also need to have additional staff members present to help with changing and taking care of the babies.
Marketing Your Business
A crucial part of starting any business is getting the word out about your baby swim school. You can start by creating a website, social media accounts, and flyers. You should also consider reaching out to local parenting groups and enlisting the help of influencers in the community to promote your business.
Develop Programs and Services
Once you’ve identified the market demand and chosen a location, the next step is to develop programs and services that meet the unique needs of your target clientele. This might include swim classes for infants of different age groups, a curriculum that focuses on water safety, and programs that promote bonding between parent and child.
Advertise Your Classes
Once you have secured a pool space for a block of available times, it’s time to advertise your baby swim lessons! Begin by spreading the word throughout your community, through people you’re already connected to. Parent word-of-mouth is powerful, and information about your baby swim lessons can spread fast.
Talk to the parents you know and encourage them to share your lesson information with friends. You might even consider making a simple, shareable flyer that can be quickly sent from parent to parent via text. You can reach out to schools, new parent playgroups, your local churches, your park district, and even other businesses that cater to babies and their parents.
Brainstorm a list of community businesses that are likely to come into contact with your target audience—everyone from local baby clothing boutiques to ballet or art studios that cater to small kids.
You’ll then want to provide them with simple, attractive flyers that they can pass out to interested parents, and be sure that anyone looking for more information can easily reach you. Be sure you’ve set up a simple and inviting website that gives parents an introduction to your baby swim classes and what they can expect, lists all the available class times, and makes it easy for people to sign up.
Babies and water are a fun combination, but there can also be risks. You want to be sure that everyone who comes to your baby swim lessons feels safe while there. That means ensuring you have relevant safety protocols in place and knowing exactly what you’ll do in case of an emergency. It’s even better if you have these typed up for parents to be aware of and sign off on.
You’ll also need to have appropriate equipment for the parents and children to use—think baby-friendly floaties, for example. Finally, be sure to check with a lawyer to make sure you have the right waivers for parents to sign so that both you and they are clear in acknowledging the inherent risks that could arise in an aquatic environment, and who is responsible should something unexpected occur.
As with any business, it is important to have liability insurance in place to protect yourself, your staff, and your clients. You will be dealing with young babies, and accidents can happen. Liability insurance will ensure that you are covered in case of any unexpected incidents.
Safety Training for Employees
It goes without saying that the safety of the babies who will be swimming in your pool is of utmost importance. Therefore, it is crucial to have all employees take part in safety training courses. These courses should cover both general safety and how to handle emergency situations in the pool area.
Make sure that your pool area is gated, and the water is heated to the appropriate temperature for babies. Additional safety measures should be taken, such as appropriate swimwear and flotation devices. Ensure that you and your staff have completed safe swimming training and have done an assessment of potential hazards around the pool.
Hire Qualified Staff
To provide the highest level of service, it is important to hire certified swimming instructors who are trained in teaching babies and young children. In addition, consider hiring staff to assist you with administrative and customer service duties. Ensure that your staff undergoes rigorous background checks, CPR certifications, safety training, and are trained in child safeguarding methods.
Once you have the venue, the class times, the safety plan, and the interested parents, it’s time to plan for the fun stuff! There’s only so much time parents and babies will want to spend in the water—somewhere between 25 and 40 minutes is ideal—so think about how you’ll fill that time with fun, baby-friendly activities for everyone to enjoy. Is there music you could play during portions of the baby swim lessons? Special water games to introduce? Movements for parents to try with their babies? Flesh out a lesson plan, but don’t be too rigid—nobody is expecting their baby to become a champion swimmer after this. Everyone is there mainly to splash, have fun, and enjoy the water together.
Give your classes a little bit of structure to get them going in this direction, but don’t be afraid to improvise and follow the babies’ cues, either.
Opening a baby swim school requires careful planning and execution. You need to conduct market research, choose a convenient location, develop programs and services, hire qualified instructors, and invest in liability insurance. With the right strategies in place, you can create a thriving business that helps infants and toddlers learn vital water safety skills and build lasting bonds with their parents.