Little ones love swimming! Because they’re free of the restrictions of gravity and able to use muscles they’d never even find on land, they love the sense of freedom it gives them. And swimming from birth is entirely natural. After all, they’ve just spent nine months in the womb!
There’s lots more reasons to get splashy with your little one though – so read on to find out why baby swimming’s such a smart move!
good for their brain!
The first year of life is significant for your baby, not least because it’s when their brain develops more rapidly than at any other time. When babies are born, their brains are full of lots of jumbled neurons, rather like B roads, which need to be turned into super-fast motorways so that their brain functions more efficiently.
Movement plays a crucial role in this, and when you take your baby swimming, all that twirling them around and swishing them from side to side is fantastic stimulation for their brain, as is learning to respond to simple instructions.
All that movement also helps to develop their vestibular system: as well as helping with your baby’s brain development and their ability to pay attention, as this system matures it will help them progress from being able to hold their head upright at around a month old, to eventually being able to walk.
Not only is chasing toys around the pool great fun, but games such as reaching out for colourful balls and pushing them underwater use the same cross lateral movement that’s needed for crawling, and teaches both sides of your baby’s brain to work together – all of which helps with future learning.
In fact, The Early Years Swimming Project at Griffith University found that by the time they start school, children who swim in the early years are ahead of non-swimmers by 6 to 15 months when it comes to solving maths problems, counting, language and following instructions.
let’s get physical!
Weekly exercise is great for your little one physically, too, with good habits instilled at an early age more likely to be continued as your child grows up – which, with the current trend of increased childhood obesity, is encouraging news.
Being in water means your baby can exercise all four quarters of their body, so swimming gives them a complete physical workout, helping to strengthen their arm, leg and neck muscles, as well as their heart and lungs. It will be no surprise to learn that little ones often sleep really well after a swim session!
The strength babies develop in the pool often transfers to their physical ability on land, with lots of mums and dads reporting that children who swim regularly often walk earlier than their non-swimming peers, thanks to their excellent muscle control.
helps their emotional development
The skin-to-skin contact of swimming with your baby is an excellent way of strengthening the bond between the two of you, and in an increasingly busy world, it’s a fantastic way of spending some precious one-to-one time together.
As your baby learns how to move independently in the water, and hold onto the side, you’ll see their self-confidence grow, and this will then often show in other areas of their life, too: they might be more willing to try new things, for example, or generally have an increased appetite for learning.
Enjoying a swim, with all these added benefits, is surely conducive to a dip! So if you haven’t tried it before, why not take the plunge today? Just head over to national baby swimming week to discover why baby swimming’s such a smart move - and find a class near you!
For tips on teaching your baby to swim, you can read our blog on the subject, here