It might feel a bit premature to bring your baby to the pool before they've even started walking. However, the experience of being in the water offers numerous advantages. Immersing your baby in water provides a distinctive sensory experience that stimulates their body in unique ways, leading to the development of billions of neurons as they kick, glide, and splash. Children introduced to swimming at an older age often develop a sense of fear or negativity towards it. On the contrary, younger children tend to be more open to floating on their backs, a skill that is achievable even in infancy! Let's explore the various benefits that early swim sessions can offer your baby.
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.
- Be aware of even small bodies of water, like bathtubs, ponds, fountains, and even watering cans.
- Always make sure your child is being supervised by an adult while swimming.
- Enforce safety rules around the pool, like no running or pushing others underwater.
- Use a life jacket while in a boat. Don’t allow inflatable toys or mattresses to be used instead of a life jacket.
- Completely remove the cover of your pool before swimming (if your pool has a cover).
- Don’t drink alcohol, and eliminate distractions (talking on your phone, working on a computer, etc.) if you’re supervising children swimming.