The benefits of baby swimming
Swimming with your baby can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but what are the benefits of taking your baby for a swim in the local pool?
Taking your baby to their first swimming lesson can be a daunting experience, but introducing them to water early on prepares them with important skills that will last a lifetime. In celebration of National Baby Swimming Week, we've rounded up the key benefits of teaching your baby how to swim.
The bonding experience
‘It’s a great way to bond with your child,’ says Kate Evans, a qualified Accident and Emergency doctor and mum of two who works as a swimming instructor for Water Babies. ‘You’re at their eye level in the water and you’re having fun together away from the stresses of home, worries about sleep, and so on.’ What’s more, it’s sociable as it brings you into contact with other parents of young children.
Baby health benefits
Swimming helps babies brains develop as it stimulates the making of neurones and connections between them, which is vital for intelligence. Other health benefits include greater lung capacity, improved strength, and co-ordination which helps children with health issues such as asthma, autism, Down’s syndrome, even eczema - as long as you manage your child’s condition with barrier cream, a suit that covers their arms and legs and wash them thoroughly after their exposure to chlorine.
Build up your baby's confidence
Around ten million adults in the UK can’t swim and many are scared of water. Kate Longthorn was one. She enrolled her son Thomas for baby-swimming lessons when he was five months old. ‘I wanted to him to have the confidence I didn’t have as a child, but the first time we went I had butterflies in my tummy,’ she admits. Kate took Thomas to Puddle Ducks, which uses small pools with warm water and it doesn’t matter if parents can’t swim as the water is shallow.
Tips for taking your baby swimming
- Ask about the pool’s changing facilities, the water temperature in the learner pool (it should be 30°C for babies over 12 weeks, 32°C+ if they’re younger or smaller) and whether there’s pushchair access and a crèche.
- If you have more than one child under four, it’s vital to ask about the pool’s adult-child ratio policy as these vary and can make the difference between you being admitted or not.
- Try a dummy run solo to sort out small, but crucial, details such as what coin/s the lockers accept, how hot the showers are and so on.
- If you want to enrol your child for swimming lessons, ask about the syllabus followed as these can vary.
- Check the instructors hold nationally recognised qualifications, have appropriate first aid training and have had criminal record (CRB) checks.
Find your nearest baby-friendly pool at waterbabies.co.uk (click on My Local Office).