Here are our top 10 reasons why we believe baby swimming is an exciting, enriching experience for everyone involved. Not only does it teach vital life skills, but it also enhances the way babies and toddlers learn other skills, too.
1. It teaches water safety
Tragically, drowning is the third-biggest cause of accidental death among children under 5 in the UK. Learning to get to the side, hold on, get out and/or swim could save your child’s life one day, so at Water Babies we teach vital safety techniques from birth.
2. It’s great for their physical and mental health
With childhood obesity levels still worryingly high, swimming is a great way of getting little ones exercising from a young age. Each Water Babies lesson provides a complete physical work-out, strengthening your baby's heart and lungs and in turn aiding development of the brain — including stimulating all 5 senses (taste, smell, touch, sight and sound). And with each lesson burning up to 300 calories, you’ll get a work-out, too!
Alexander from Wigan at 9 days old
3. It promotes bonding
Skin-to-skin contact strengthens the bond between you and your little one – and with mums still generally having the most bonding opportunities, swimming is a fantastic way for dads to spend some precious one-to-one time with their babies.
4. It boosts confidence
Introducing children to water at a very young age helps prevent a fear of water developing later. Exercises that involve moving independently in water and holding on to the side are wonderful for your baby’s confidence². Many parents also find that handling their baby in water is great for them, too — especially if they’re anxious about water or can’t swim. You’ll be so proud of what your baby can do!
5. It develops their co-ordination
Being in the water helps improve co-ordination and balance, and learning to swim with toys will help your little one’s co-ordination and motor skills. A 2009 study by the Norwegian University of Science & Technology found that babies who swim have better balance and can grasp objects more easily¹ than non-swimmers.
6. It builds their strength
Buoyancy and water-resistance mean that babies exercise more muscles, more effectively, in water than on land. Finnish research showed that swimming babies crawled later but walked earlier, thanks to their excellent muscle control.
7. It develops their learning skills
Responding to repetitive voice commands can sharpen your baby’s mental skills and increase their levels of understanding. A German study found that swimming babies had advanced motor development, social skills and intelligence² than non-swimmers.
The Early Years Swimming Project at Griffith University found that by the time they start school, children who swim in the early years are ahead of non-swimmers by 6 to 15 months when it comes to solving maths problems, counting, language and following instructions.
8. It enhances their wellbeing
Warm water relaxes your baby, and swimming stimulates their appetite; for you, the good news is improved sleeping and eating patterns!
9. It provides structure
Weekly swimming classes contribute to structuring your week and your day, providing a regular fun and social activity (and, just possibly, a little sanity…)
10. You can start from birth
Even the NHS agrees! You don’t need to wait until your baby has had his or her vaccinations before they go swimming (even underwater).
1 H Sigmundsson1 & B. Hopkins, ‘Baby swimming: exploring the effects of early intervention on subsequent motor abilities’ in Child: Care, Health and Development Volume 36, Issue 3, pages 428–430, May 2010.
2 Professor Liselott Diem, German Sports Centre, Cologne, 1974-1976.