13 necessities for parent/child swim lessons

My 2-year-old daughter loves playing in water, so I thought signing us up for some parent/child swimming lessons would be a good idea. It's been really great spending time in a warm pool in the middle of winter. 

I signed us up to take a Parent & Child Class through Bloomington/Richfield Community Education Services. We've had five lessons so far and it's been going really well. The main issue I've experienced so far is trying to remember all the stuff we need to bring each week. 

I decided to make a checklist to make it easier to remember everything. I thought other parents might find this list useful when preparing for their own parent/child swimming lessons. 

1. Your child's swimsuit
I suggest choosing a 1-piece suit that's quick and easy to get on and off so your little one doesn't have to be in a wet swimsuit for very long after getting out of the pool and rinsing off in the shower.

2. Your swimsuit
Again, easier is better. I have some regrets about buying a 2-piece instead of a 1-piece suit, although I liked how the halter tankini made me feel more comfortable about my "mom body."

3. Your child's towel
It obviously doesn't need to be a beach towel or have special characters on it, but I love how excited my daughter gets to wrap up in her Hello Kitty towel.

4. Your towel
You definitely need towels for both of you, and honestly if you could fit a total of three towels in the bag I think it'd be helpful. Remember that you'll be using the towels to wrap/dry yourselves three times through the course of the lesson (wrap up after pre-swim shower, wrap up when you get out of the pool, dry off before changing back into your clothes).

5. Swim diapers
I recommend bringing two swim diapers to each lesson. I've ripped them before trying to get them on (sometimes they're defective and sometimes your child is uncooperative and overly squirmy).

6. Diapers/Pull-ups
Again, I recommend bringing two diapers to each lesson just in case you have an issue. It also might come in handy if one of your new mom friends ends up needing a backup diaper.

7. Wipes
The primary reason for this is obvious, but they're also helpful for cleaning up your child's face and fingers after his or her pre-swim lesson snack.

8. Changing pad
I found it's helpful to have a small changing pad/pouch set. I'm able to zip a couple regular diapers inside with the changing pad and then my wipes case fits in the outside pocket. It's great to have for stroller rides or anytime you don't want to bring your whole diaper bag.

9. Comb
If you have long hair like I do, I suggest bringing some hair ties in addition to the comb. It's not practical to think I'll be able to completely dry my hair before going outside in the cold after our nighttime swim lesson, so I put all my hair up in a bun.

10. Plastic bags
I bring two plastic bags to each swim lesson so I can put our wet swimsuits and towels inside to keep our bag and other stuff from getting wet.

11. Soft-sided bag
I use a soft-sided beach bag for our swim lesson stuff because the lockers at the school in Bloomington are very narrow and a lot of more rigid bags wouldn't be able to fit inside the space. It's helpful if the bag has pockets inside to make some of your smaller necessities easier to find.

12. Combination lock
Depending on where you take your swimming lessons, there will probably be lockers for you to store your clothes and stuff during the lesson. Remember to bring a lock to keep your stuff secure while you're swimming. Tip: if you're worried about remembering the combination, you can write it on the underside of a silicone wristband and wear it while you swim.

13. Snack
If you take nighttime swim lessons like we do, it's likely you won't have time to feed your child dinner before class. I recommend bringing a snack for your child to eat before your lesson. I usually put all the snack stuff into a Ziploc bag so I don't have to worry about getting applesauce all over inside our bag (or my car).

I hope you find this list to be helpful. I've also created a downloadable checklist file (see the Resources bar on the right side of the page) if you prefer to have a printed list to check off before each lesson. I've also included links to a few of the items mentioned in case you really like them.

Now, let's stop worrying about what we forgot to bring this week and focus on having fun in the water with our little ones!


This blog is truthful and based on personal experience with the products or items mentioned. It doesn't have sponsors, and no one paid to receive positive reviews of their products. All of the links provided are for your convenience and are not "affiliate links" — Valerie doesn't receive payment or kickbacks if people purchase products based on her recommendations.

Valerie Moe is the Senior Graphic Designer for Minnesota Parent magazine. She lives in Bloomington with her husband and their 2-year-old daughter. You can comment below or contact her directly here.