Everyone at Water Babies is very proud to launch the nation’s first-ever National Baby Swimming Week, running from Monday 31 October. Swimming could potentially save your child’s life one day. That’s why we urge mums and dads to take their little ones to their nearest swimming class for some fun family time, as well as enjoying a wide range of health benefits along the way.
Without further ado, here are ten very good reasons, backed by highly respected international academic research, why you and your baby should take the plunge!
1. It teaches water safety
Tragically, drowning is the third-biggest cause of accidental death among children under five in the UK. Learning to get to the side, hold on, get out and/or swim could save your child’s life one day.
2. It’s great for baby’s physical and mental health
With childhood obesity levels continuing to rise, swimming is a great way of getting little ones exercising from a young age. Research shows that not only does it strengthens your baby’s heart and lungs it also helps develop their brains. Mums and dads get a good work out too – each lesson burns up to 300 calories!
3. It promotes bonding
Skin-to-skin contact strengthens the bond between you and your little one. Swimming is also a fantastic way for dads and even grandparents to spend some precious one-to-one time with their child or grandchild!
4. It boosts confidence
Introducing children to water early in life helps prevent a fear of water developing later. Your baby’s confidence grows as a result of moving independently in water plus holding on to the side. 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. Also instead of bath time being a chore, it’s transformed into a fun, splashy time!
5. It develops co-ordination
Being in the water helps improve co-ordination and balance. Learning to swim with toys will help your little one’s co-ordination and motor skills.
6. It builds strength
Buoyancy and water-resistance mean that babies exercise more muscles, more effectively, in water than on land.
7. It develops learning skills
Responding to repetitive voice commands helps sharpen your baby’s mental skills, increasing their levels of understanding. 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 six to fifteen months, solving maths problems, counting, language and following instructions.
8. It enhances wellbeing
Warm water relaxes your baby, and swimming stimulates their appetite. This means improved sleeping and eating patterns!
9. It provides structure
Weekly swimming classes contribute to structuring your week and day, providing a regular fun and social activity. Who knows, you may even gain a little sanity too!
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). The youngest baby to start at Water Babies was one day old!
Our own recent survey showed that those who start learning swimming from an early age get smitten by the health bug – very encouraging news, set against a worrying, worldwide crisis of growing childhood obesity.
Results found that 93% of children under the age of five who attend swimming lessons are physically active for at least 3 hours per day; 91% of their slightly older counterparts, (aged between seven and eight) easily meet the Chief Medical Officer guidelines of sixty minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity per day. This is way above the UK average, where only around a half of seven to eight year olds achieve this recommendation.
In addition, 92% of seven to eleven year olds surveyed could easily swim twenty-five metres unaided. However, the national picture is more bleak – only 45% of this age group are able to swim the same distance on their own.
For some great case studies and video accounts from families hooked on the benefits of swimming from an early age go to: www.nationalbabyswimmingweek.org.uk. This link also allows parents to enter a fun competition, submitting a photo of their “Grumpy Baby”, and the chance to win a fabulous week’s holiday with Eurocamp, or one of 5 beautiful goodie bags from Piccolo.