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Experts say four to six-month-old babies incapable of swimming

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Claim: A Facebook user posits that babies four to six months old naturally know how to swim. 

Experts say four to six-month-old babies incapable of swimming

Verdict: According to experts and research, babies can not naturally swim.

Full Text

Developmental milestones are activities expected of children at certain ages. Developmental milestones like crawling, walking, or talking are a major mark of growth in babies. 

A Center for Disease Control and Prevention study in 2012 of United States data from 2005–2009 indicated that each year, an average of 513 children aged zero to six years were victims of fatal drowning. Also, 3,057 of that age range were treated in the US hospital emergency departments for non-fatal drowning. Of all age groups, children aged zero to four years had the highest death and non-fatal injury rates.

A Facebook user Daniel Ogbonna made a post on a group, Untold Facts, asserting that babies that are four to six months old naturally know how to swim. He added that the instincts, however, disappear after that time, and they need to be retaught. 

The post has garnered 2,900 likes, 85 comments, and 187 shares since it was posted on August 30, 2023. 

The comment section was filled with different opinions. A user, @Lathita Rocky, was against the post and said. “Do not drown your kids”. 

Another user, @Gbolly Hydra, asked:

“How do you know the kind of swimming style used in the womb?

@Williams Thomas, agreeing with the post, wrote,” This instinct doesn’t fade away. For those who think this isn’t real, most Gen X’ers were just tossed in. No instruction. We instinctively knew how to swim. All primates instinctively know to swim.”

The virality of this claim, the conflicting comments under the post, and the health hazard this might result in if people give it a trial made DUBAWA verify the claim. 


We visited Pediatric Partners Hospital’s website, a hospital dedicated to taking care of children, and learnt that newborns have reflexes that can make it look like they’re swimming.

We found that the reflex called the bradycardic response (also called the diving reflex) makes babies hold their breath and open their eyes when submerged in water. This same reaction can be triggered by blowing in your baby’s face. This reflex starts to go away after six months but may last up to a year.

Babies can start learning to swim around age one, though they won’t master swimming skills until they’re at least four years old.

Experts Opinion 

We spoke to Olukayode Alabi, a Pediatrician, who explained that the claim is a fallacy. 

In his statement, he wrote:

“Looking at the milestone of their development, it is a fallacy that an infant of four to six months can swim naturally. The risk of the child drowning is high. The children of that age group can still not coordinate their extremities or their trunk, which is essential during swimming.”

We also spoke to a swimming instructor, Timileyin Olabiyi, who explained to us that:

“There is no way we could find the best age for a child to start swimming. When babies are in the womb, they float around amniotic fluid within their mother’s womb, which is likened to a ball of water. You can not call that swimming, can you?

“I would recommend waiting till your baby is at least three years old to learn swimming properly, but for two years and below, they can be in the water and play around with it,” he added. 

Experts recommend taking your little one to parent-child swimming classes as early as age one because every child is different. You may find your little one isn’t ready to start swimming lessons until later.

It’s important to know that newborns and infants younger than 12 months old cannot raise their heads above the water to breathe, so swimming lessons aren’t yet appropriate.


Babies do not swim in the womb; they float on amniotic fluid, so they are not born with the ability to swim. Experts suggest that swimming lessons can be taught once children already know how to raise their heads above the water to breathe. 

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