Gift your baby this life saving skill !
When your baby isn’t old enough to walk, it may seem silly to take them to the pool. But there can be so many benefits to splashing around and gliding through the water.
Being in the water engages your baby’s body in a completely unique way, creating billions of new neuropathways as your baby kicks, glides, and smacks at the water.
Due to their delicate immune systems, doctors typically recommend that parents keep their babies from chlorinated pools or lakes until they’re about 6 months old.
But you don’t want to wait too long to introduce your baby to the pool. Children who don’t get their feet wet until later tend to be more fearful and negative about swimming. Younger children are also usually less resistant to floating on their backs, a skill that even some babies can learn!
Here’s the lowdown on the potential benefits of infant swim time.
Bilateral cross-patterning movements, which use both sides of the body to carry out an action, help your baby’s brain grow.
Cross-patterning movements build neurons throughout the brain, but especially in the corpus callosum. This facilitates communication, feedback, and modulation from one side of the brain to another. Down the road, this may improve:
- reading skills
- language development
- academic learning
- spatial awareness
When swimming, your baby moves their arms while kicking their legs. And they’re doing these actions in water, which means their brain is registering the tactile sensation of water plus its resistance. Swimming is also a unique social experience, which furthers its brain-boosting power.
A four-year study of more than 7,000 children by the Griffith University in Australia suggested children who swim have advances in physical and mental development when compared to their peers who don’t swim.
Specifically, the 3- to 5-year-olds who swam were 11 months ahead of the normal population in verbal skills, six months ahead in math skills, and two months ahead in literacy skills. They were also 17 months ahead in story recall and 20 months ahead in understanding directions.
However, the study’s findings were only an association and not firm evidence. The study was also sponsored by the swim school industry and relied on parental reports. More research is needed to explore and confirm this potential benefit.
Swim time may reduce the risk of drowning in children over 4 years old. Swimming may reduce the risk of drowning in children ages 1 to 4.
It’s important to note that swim time doesn’t reduce the risk of drowning in children under 1.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), drowning is a leading cause of death among children and toddlers. Most of these drownings in children under 4 years old occur in home swimming pools. If you have a pool, early swim lessons are definitely helpful.
Even the youngest babies can be taught swimming skills, like floating on their backs. But for infants under 1 year old, this doesn’t keep them safer from drowning.
Even if your child has had swim lessons, they should still be supervised at all times while in the water.