Taking your baby to swimming lessons is a wonderful investment in your child’s wellbeing. Water experiences are calming and engaging, and it is a beautiful tactile environment for babies to explore movement, interaction and what their bodies can do in zero gravity. Floating gives babies a new level of freedom that they don’t have on the floor. It’s also a great way of getting skin-to-skin contact between you and your baby.
Learn about water safety
Baby swimming lessons help give children a respect for water and a greater awareness of water safety. Many baby swimming classes also introduce basic safety skills like turning the body to hold onto a wall and back floating. The more time your baby spends in the water, the more adept she will become at navigating this new element.
Improve confidence, coordination and strength
Early swimming lessons develop a positive attitude to water as well as confidence and safety skills. Swimming improves children’s strength and endurance, as well as their lung capacity and coordination. It also prepares your baby for enjoying water sports and activities like canoeing, surfing, diving or water polo later on in life.
Cognitive and physical development
A recent study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology showed that babies who swim are better at balancing and also better at grasping toys and books than their non-swimming peers. The researchers studied a group of 38 babies; 19 baby swimmers and 19 baby non-swimmers. The little swimmers took swimming classes for two hours every week from age 2-3 months up until about 7 months old. The kinds of things the swimming babies did were ‘jumping’ from the pool edge, ‘diving’ under water and balancing on a parent’s hand while reaching out to grab floating toys. When the study followed up the children at age 5, the researchers found that the benefits of early swimming persisted. The baby swimmers were still better at doing things like walking on their tiptoes, balancing, and catching a beanbag.
What age can babies begin swimming lessons?
Three months seems to be the general recommendation for beginning baby swimming lessons. Most swim schools take children from this age, but I know people who started taking their children to the pool earlier than that. I took my baby to the pool for the first time when she was 4 months old, but that was more because I couldn’t get myself organized before that rather than that I was waiting for her to be old enough. Now my daughter loves swimming and being in the water. I often take her to the pool, just as much for the great social interaction opportunities as for the physical experience.
Swimming togs for babies
All pools will require your baby to wear swimming nappies. I use re-useable swim nappies myself, and they are cheaper and less wasteful way to go than the disposable ones. One problem with them is that the re-usable ones need to be changed fairly often because when your baby gets in the water they swell up and get heavy and saggy.
Disposable cloth swim nappies are another option. If they aren’t dirty they can be dried out and reused. My baby isn’t at all prone to rashes, but I’ve heard that some babies can get a bit rashy from the disposable nappies.
Overall, we love swimming with our little girl. It’s awesome seeing her have fun in the water and becoming increasingly confident each time we go.
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