The many benefits of baby swim
Everyone seems to be attracted to the water as soon as the weather starts to heat up, including children without swimming skills. One of the best things a parent can do to keep their child safer around water is to make sure they start Learn to Swim classes as soon as possible. Summer is fast approaching, so if your child is not yet in swimming lessons, it is a great time to start. We are often asked “what is the recommended age to start swimming lessons?”
Swim Australia recommends starting lessons from 6 months, but you can and absolutely should practice early water familiarisation before this, well before the child acquires a fear of the water, so they can start to accept and enjoy the water early in life. It is important to make sure your baby has regular baths and showers, and becomes comfortable with the sensation of water being trickled and then poured over their head. Your 6 month old will then accept the water more readily, and with much less fear, than a child who has not had this exposure. Shower with your young child, demonstrating that there is nothing to fear and creating positive early associations with water.
Safety was always my main motivation to get my children into lessons early, however in recent years a Griffith University study has proven that there are many other benefits for babies, including the development of gross motor skills and improved strength, co-ordination and balance. Swimming strengthens your baby on the inside, helping to develop their muscles and joints, improving the strength of their heart and lungs, and helps to develop their brain. Balance is improved as a result of much of your baby’s body being supported by water, so the main focus for them is on maintaining balance – as a result, babies who swim tend to have a much better balance out of the pool. Plus it’s fun – your baby is less restricted by gravity, giving them the freedom to move in whichever direction they please (with the parents assistance), something young infants seem to enjoy very much judging by their happy responses and smiles in lessons!.
Warm water combined with gentle exercise will relax your baby, encourage the release of mood boosting chemicals, and stimulate the child’s appetite, with many parents reporting that their babies usually eat and sleep better after swimming (we have all seen the Facebook photos of baby asleep halfway through lunch after a swimming lesson!) Additionally, the uninterrupted quality time whilst swimming facilitates an even deeper bond between parent and child, and as swimming becomes a natural part of your child’s weekly routine, a healthy exercise habit is created while learning a skill for life!