Mojomums spoke to Trish Hare, founder of Swimkidz, on why you should teach your baby to swim…
Five good reasons to teach your baby to swim…
- Social Interaction
- Health benefits – cognitive
- Better eating and sleeping patterns
- Learning water safety
When should I start swimming with my baby?
We recommend taking your baby swimming as soon as you feel ready to get in the pool – normally at around six weeks. The reason we recommend starting as early as possible is because the younger your baby is, the happier they are likely to be. Don’t forget, they’ve only just left the comfort of your womb, so being in warm water will still feel entirely natural. Older babies may have already developed a fear of water so the earlier you can get them to the pool the better they will adjust to a new environment.
Parents often tell us that their swimming classes with us are the highlight of their week above all other activities they have signed up too. Seeing their little ones make progress and move happily underwater without restriction is so amazing. There are psychological benefits too, swimming lessons help babies become more confident and provide them with a sense of relaxation while the experience also contributes to their socialisation.
Several studies have shown that babies who have been swimming during the first two years of their lives develop a greater sense of their surroundings and are therefore already learning to be more creative and observant. Did you know that 75% of brain development occurs in the first three years of a little one’s life? So, whilst you are bouncing around the pool you are also strengthening your baby’s vestibular and neurological system. Muscle symmetry is also improved which prepares babies for their next developmental stages i.e. crawling and walking. Additionally, experiences in water allows little ones to better develop their psychomotor skills because they can move more freely and begin to understand concepts of distance and movement.
The cardio-respiratory system is also strengthened as the baby exercises his/her heart and lungs.
Better Eating & Sleeping Pattern
Warm water, combined with the movements created in the water, stimulate baby’s appetites. The most primitive of involuntary reflexes is the ‘Amphibian Reflex’ which occurs every time a baby is placed in water and is most noticeable at bath time. You will see them move their arms and legs vigorously. This not only helps to strengthen muscles but is the reason why parents will tell you their little ones sleep well after swimming.
Swimming is not only fun and healthy for you and your little one but provides the perfect bonding experience. Dad’s get involved in swimming more so than any other activity and often see it as their ‘daddy/baby’ bonding time. Swimming is also a really sociable activity giving you and your baby the perfect opportunity to make lots of new friends many of whom you’ll keep for life!
Of course the most important reason for taking your baby swimming is that you will be teaching them a core life skill that could one day prove invaluable. Life saving techniques can be taught from the very first lesson and built upon each week. Drowning is still the 3rd greatest cause of death in young children with many cases occurring close to the water’s edge. Children who have been taught from an early age have a better chance of survival if they have been taught these skills.
Author: Trish Hare, founder of SwimKidz