Effect of baby swimming lessons on infants’ avoidance of bodies of water


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Despite the popularity of infant swimming programs, no evidence exists to determine whether they influence infants’ judgments and behavior when confronted with bodies of water. We conducted two separate studies examining if the total number of swimming sessions an infant participated in predicted whether they avoided a body of water they could enter via an edge (Study 1—Water Cliff: n = 101 infants) or a slope (Study 2—Water Slope: n = 77 infants). The results revealed a significant interaction between number of sessions and type of entry into the water. Infants who participated in 10 or more sessions were more likely to avoid falling on the edge leading into the water but entered the water significantly more if they could access it via a slope. These findings suggest that while experience in baby swimming programs can promoted more adaptive behaviors on drop-offs leading into bodies of water, sloped entries may heighten drowning risks for young children with greater familiarity with water. Because we tested the two groups of infants in different countries, further research is warranted to determine if cultural differences in child rearing practices or variations in the content and/or teaching of the swimming programs might explain these intriguing findings. Copyright © 2023 Wiley Periodicals LLC.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere22434
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
Issue number8
Early online dateOct 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


Burnay, C., Anderson, D. I., Button, C., & Cordovil, R. (2023). Effect of baby swimming lessons on infants’ avoidance of bodies of water. Developmental Psychobiology, 65(8), Article e22434. https://doi.org/10.1002/dev.22434


  • Affordances
  • Drowning
  • Perceptual–motor development
  • Water Clif
  • Water safety
  • Water Slope


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