Learning to swim is a valuable skill for any child to learn. But not many people realize that swimming also offers a host of benefits related to cognitive development and physical health. Starting swimming early is a great way to help a child cultivate their mind and body.
Gross & Fine Motor Skills
Swimming places unique demands on the body that a child does not experience crawling around on the ground. It provides an opportunity for a baby or child to exercise muscles in new ways. Using both sides of the body to swim can improve coordination and motor skills.
Simply by virtue of being a distinct experience from crawling, movement in water helps build all kinds of new connections in the brain. This helps the child to use their arms and legs in new ways and gain greater control of fine and gross motor skills. An example of a gross motor skill would be climbing stairs or standing on one leg. An example of fine motor skills would be stacking blocks or using a spoon to eat.
Strength & Balance
One of the most striking examples of accelerated development from swimming can be found in Iceland where some babies are able to stand at 4 months old.
Through baby swimming classes, these children have been able to defy long standing assumptions about when babies can stand on their own. (Generally, babies do not have enough strength or balance to stand independently until 8-9 months).
It is somewhat astonishing to think that, until just a few years ago, the medical community did not think babies could develop certain skills so early. The fact that babies in Iceland are standing 5 months ahead of schedule tells you that swimming can unlock a lot of potential in the brain and body that most of us aren't aware of.
Benefits for Cognition
Researchers at Griffith University in Australia claim that children who start swimming early can be months to (almost) years ahead of their peers in various categories. Children in their study showed greater advancement in areas like oral expression and basic mathematical abilities compared to non-swimmers. They believe this may indicate that children who swim at a young age are “reaching milestones sooner”.
Reduced Chance of Drowning
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) once felt just like you. They recommended against swim lessons for infants and toddlers because there was simply not enough evidence that early exposure to water reduced the risk of drowning. In fact, this same group feared the potential for a false sense of confidence around the water.
In 2010, everything changed. A National Institutes of Health (NIH) study investigated data on drowning deaths over the course of two years and found that formal swim lessons between 1-4 years of age resulted in a 88% reduction of risk from drowning. This led to a formal revision of the AAP’s policy.
Enjoy the Advantages of Swimming Early
Take advantage of our Mini Baby Classes and give your little ones a head start. Goldfish Swim School offers swimming classes for children as young as 4 to 12 months old. No matter your child’s age or comfort level, there’s something for everyone. View our swimming classes and find a location near you.