In the first few months of your baby’s life – maybe even during your pregnancy – you’ll probably hear people around you raving about the importance of taking your little one to baby swimming lessons.
And, as any parent knows, hearing that can make our protective sides go into overdrive. My tiny baby in a huge swimming pool? The thought of your helpless baby in the water might understandably make you feel anxious, whether or not they’re with a swimming teacher. Especially if you’re not a swimmer yourself.
With that in mind, is it really important to take your infant to baby swim classes? Or can you hold off until they are 3 or 4 years old without it really making a difference?
The answer is yes, introducing your baby to swimming early on will give them a real head start in their journey to becoming a confident, competent swimmer.
On top of this, baby swim classes will also give them a boost in several development areas out of the pool.
Now, if you’re reading this as a parent of toddlers or even school age kids and, for whatever reason, they missed missed out on baby swim classes, you absolutely shouldn’t be beating yourself up.
It’s never too late to get in the pool, (at Kingswim we’ve even taught our fair share of adults!), and your kids can of course go on to become excellent swimmers despite starting a little later.
Having said that, here are seven reasons you might want to think about taking your little one to baby swimming lessons.
- They’ll improve their coordination and balance
The practice your infant will get moving both arms and legs at the same time is seriously useful for their coordination and balance. While it may not seem like much, even making small coordinated movement is a victory for them and will help them outside the pool too. Swimming lessons give them a unique chance to move almost independently in the first year of their life.
- Early swimming lessons promote cognitive growth
When your baby uses both sides of their body in the same action, they are practicing what’s called bilateral cross-patterning movements. This activity has been shown to build neurons across the brain, particularly in the corpus callosum, which connects and enables communication between the left and right cerebral hemispheres. This growth facilitates the development of crucial higher brain functions, and has been linked to improved spatial awareness, linguistic and academic development and reading later in life.
- Boost your little one’s confidence
Babies love water! After nine months in the womb it’s no surprise that being in water is quite natural for little ones and often they’ll quickly grow to love being in the pool. If they’re in a class with other tots, they’ll get social and play time, as well as the chance to learn a new skill and adapt to a new situation, all of which can go a long way to help build up their confidence.
- Learning to swim encourages their muscle development
As well as the benefits to their coordination and balance, introducing your baby to swimming will help them slowly build up their core muscles. Swimming also builds up the muscles they need to hold their head up, and their little arms and legs. And, on top of promoting muscle development, swimming also boosts cardiovascular health, so their little lungs, heart and brain can all benefit.
- It’s quality bonding time, free from distractions
Time in the pool with your infant is a great chance to bond, free from the distractions of home life. You’ll get plenty of eye contact and skin contact, and helping them in such an important activity can really strengthen your bond. There’s no reason why you won’t come to treasure the time you spend in the pool with your little one!
- A healthy appetite for food and naps
Swimming is a demanding exercise for infants, and your baby will expend a lot of energy in the pool, staying warm and learning new movements. Often parents see their baby’s appetite growing after lessons – for both food and a nap.
- Reduced risk of drowning for toddlers
Research has pointed to the link between water survival skills training and early swimming lessons and a reduced risk of drowning between children from 1 to 4 years old. The evidence hasn’t been shown to apply to infants less than a year old, however, and it’s vital to remember that swimming lessons are only one factor of several required for effective protection against drowning.
If you’ve been thinking about introducing your baby to swimming, the team at Kingswim would love to help you. We offer foundation lessons for little learners from 12 weeks old to 6 months old. Classes are fully flexible and all of our coaches are super-friendly, experienced and nationally qualified.