Do you have a water baby? Children are naturally drawn to water. It sparkles prettily in sunshine, feels good on the skin, and is fun to splash and play with. We all want our children to feel confident and safe around water, and introducing your little one to the pool and having them learning to swim from an early age can have many lasting benefits.
Why children should be learning to swim from an early age
Your baby may love a soothing swish around in the bath tub, and you can take your cues from them about the right time to transition from the tub to swimming lessons.
Some swim schools offer water familiarisation classes from 3 months of age, where your baby can enjoy the feeling of buoyancy and gliding through water with you. These are an ideal introduction to the swimming environment, or you might prefer to wait until your child is a few months older and more confident. There are no hard and fast rules, but the good news is your child is never too old to learn to swim.
Benefits of learning to swim from an early age include…
Just like when learning to crawl, the bilateral movement associated with swimming can help your baby’s brain grow. Cross-over movements build neurons in the brain that develop communication from one side of the brain to the other, improving the capacity for language development, reading skills and spatial awareness.
The bonding element of skin-to-skin contact with the parent or caregiver builds trust and self-esteem. This trust is reinforced as you help your child feel confident in their swimming environment and newly emerging water skills.
Confidence in water is reflected in everyday situations, and your child may show more comfort in social situations and greater self-control.
Staying safe in water requires core strength, head and neck control, and strong limbs. A parent or caregiver should always be in the pool with very young children and children who have not yet developed the required strength.
As your child grows and progresses to learning swimming strokes and proper technique, they will be required to use all the major muscle groups in their body, including limbs, core and shoulders. Being buoyant and developing the strength to surge through the natural resistance of water also improves joint mobility.
With continued swimming lessons, your child will develop strength with physical symmetry. Using both sides of the body equally in the water leads to better balance and coordination on land. This loops right back to improved confidence and self-esteem – swimming is the developmental gift that keeps on giving!
The physical demands of swimming require a lot of energy. Blood flow is boosted to all major muscle groups and the brain to keep the body warm and moving. The body and brain work hard while swimming, and all that hard work requires a good rest.
Strenuous physical activity encourages the body to release endorphins – the feel-good hormone that reduces perception of pain and triggers positive feelings – and serotonin, a hormone that improves sleep and mood.
If you want your child to sleep soundly through the night, swimming can make your dream come true!
Encouraging your child to continue swimming into adulthood
We all want our children to be the best version of themselves they can be. The benefits of learning to swim from an early age can continue into high school and beyond, with improved cognitive, physical, and emotional development leading to a better academic outcome and healthier lifestyle habits.
Plus, with our coastal living and home swimming pools, it’s important that children and confident around water and respectful of its dangers. Developing correct swimming techniques can help your child enjoy being in the water safely, and give you peace of mind.
With all these healthy and long-term benefits for your child, why would you want to delay swimming lessons for your child any longer? The best time to book your child in for their first swimming lesson is right now!
This article was featured in Issue 48 of our printed magazine, published October 2021.