Benefits of baby swimming
What is baby swimming?
Baby swimming (swimming for infants and toddlers) is a program of learning and developing basic swimming skills in a playful atmosphere. The program involves parents with their babies – from 6 months to 3.5 years old – under the guidance of a qualified instructor in a specially designed pool with warm (around 32°C) and shallow water.
Baby swimming programs are designed to help babies become familiar with water and develop confidence in it, through their participation in safe and pleasant pool activities. Scientific studies have shown that through play, exploration and encouragement, these activities can lead to learning basic swimming movements and skills that heighten their safety in the water. These programs started in the 1960s in America and Europe, and have been developed further in Germany and the Nordic countries where they are widely used and quite popular.
What are the benefits of baby swimming?
The neuromuscular development of infants has not been completed, and so baby swimming is likely to affect the child’s overall development through proper physical and mental exercise. The water with its characteristics (silky texture, buoyancy, resistance, etc.) gives infants a familiar environment and many opportunities for sensory activation that they don’t necessarily get elsewhere. Despite the characteristics of this age (decreased muscle strength, stiffness and improper body ratio due to lack of maturation and development), water gives babies a great opportunity to discover that they are able to manage their movements.
Studies have shown that swimming programs for infants and toddlers support their overall development, impacting positively on kinetic, motor, and neuropsychiatric development. By swimming, children acquire adaptability to stimuli, courage and a higher degree of confidence in themselves while becoming more independent. Studies also emphasize the positive effect of infant swimming programs in the personality development of children, perceptual abilities and intelligence. At the same time, their immune systems are strengthened, they suffer fewer ear infections and get sick less (Kontzia Costas, Kourtesis & Tzetzis, 2004, Ahrendt, 1997, Serebriakova et al., 1989). Baby swimming improves appetite, and sleep becomes more pleasant and calm, as the water regulates muscle tone and creates a sense of relaxation. The involvement of parents strengthens the parent-child relationship, and through early contact with other babies develops sociability. The pleasant ambience of the pool along with exercise through games offers a fun and enjoyable experience for children. Finally, an important element is to learn basic swimming movements and skills that help children be safer in the water. Through this program the correct conditions are created for children to love swimming.