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The Best Swim Gear for Babies, According to Swim Instructors

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As we approach summer and prepare to (hopefully) spend a lot of time at the pool or the beach, you may be thinking about what you’ll need for your baby to join the festivities — especially if there’s a kiddie section at said pool or beach. And that’s a good thing, according to the swim instructors we spoke with, who told us that the best way to encourage a love of water is to get little ones in it as soon as possible, so they’re comfortable by the time you can sign them up for more formal lessons (which the folks we talked to highly recommend, as drowning is the second-leading cause of death among children ages 1 to 4 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control.)

Luckily, it doesn’t take much to introduce babies to water (hello, bath time!), and there are programs all over the country that can help when your kiddo is ready to go from tub to a bigger pool. There is also a lot of gear — including swim diapers, wetsuits, and even toys — to help make that first dip fun enough for your little one that she’ll want to go back for more, according to our experts. Read on for the best things that our pros — among them Jim Spiers, the CEO of New York City– and Houston-based aquatics education program SwimJim; Heidi Reiss, a co-owner of Brooklyn-based kids’ swim school Aquabeba; Brendan O’Melveny, chief aquatics officer and baby swim specialist at Imagine Swimming; and Mary O’Donoghue, senior aquatics director at the YMCA of Greater New York — recommend using to introduce babies 36-months-old and younger to the water.

Best overall swim gear for babies