Bryony Johnstone from Water Babies celebrates the benefits of baby swimming
When you work with babies in water every day, the things you see become normal. But every now and again, it’s worth stopping and thinking about the incredible and numerous benefits of baby swimming.
The second ever National Baby Swimming week, which runs from 16-22 October, is about celebrating these benefits. Unlike any other activity, swimming is potentially life-saving and it’s something babies can do before they can even sit up. Water gives them a unique chance to move fully and uninhibited, supporting them gently. You only have to see an eight day old baby uncurl from her foetal position to appreciate this.
This movement is critical to babies’ development. Experts in child development have a tick list of 17 physical skills a child has to nail by the age of six or they will never achieve it. Swimming, athletics and gymnastics are the only three activities that practise all 17 of these skills, while swimming is the only one we can do from birth.
Movement also stimulates baby’s growing brain. A baby’s brain grow rapidly inside the womb – when the baby is cocooned in water. After birth, restricting movement can prevent the brain making important connections. The range of movement a baby gets in water strengthens those connections, helping their cognitive development in that all-important first year.
However, the psychological benefits don’t stop there. Every week we see how bonding it is to have skin-on-skin in warm water with your baby. Studies at the German Sports College in Cologne show that baby swimming boosts their confidence and stimulates positive emotions. Water Babies parents tell us classes boost their confidence too – not just in the pool, but in parenting in general.
Physical benefits of healthy, regular exercise are perhaps a bit more obvious. It improves strength, coordination, balance, heart and lung health, fitness, and sleep and eating patterns. But those benefits don’t just last as long as you swim with your baby. A recent Water Babies survey showed that while the national average for 7-11 year olds able to swim 25 meters unaided is 55%, of ex-Water Babies it’s 92%.
So there are the academics. Have a look at the National Baby Swimming Week website to find out more about where swimmers are in terms of their physical, mental and emotional development compared to their non-swimming peers.
What we see in ours pools every day is truly magical. Newborns uncurl, babies splash, stretch, explore. Many of our tiny swimmers make their first independent movements in the water. Most of them show that they understand what their parents are saying to them for the first time, and lots say their first word in the pool.
Over the 14 years we’ve been teaching babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers in and around Bath, we’ve seen countless babies and parents reap huge benefits from taking swimming classes with our highly qualified teachers. Sadly, far too many young children are missing out on all the positive benefits that come with swimming simply because they never learned this potentially life-saving skill.
National Baby Swimming week is wonderful chance to spread the word and get as many babies in the area as possible enjoying the water.
Water Babies teaches innovative, fun, gently progressive classes built around the latest in child aquatic developments. Our lessons in warm, private pools take place at Threeways School, Church Farm in Winsley and Fosseway in Radstock.
Please call 0117 946 6919 to find out more. We have a new term starting in November do contact us to find out more about classes.