Many swim to stay healthy, keep a sharp mind and boost self-confidence. These benefits can extend to babies and their motor skills that help them learn to understand cause-effect relationships and develop problem-solving skills.
Your baby will learn fine and gross motor skills growing up. Fine motor skills involve little, controlled movements, while gross motor skills are big movements like waving, bending, and walking.
But you may ask, “How can infant swim lessons help my baby develop and improve these skills?” Here’s a closer look at the connection between swimming and motor skill development.
Swimming’s Role in Improving Your Baby’s Motor Skills
In 2022, Italian researchers found that swimming may help infants develop their motor skills. They studied six to 10-month-old babies who frequently or seldom practiced swimming and how those factors affected their motor skills.
Among the research subjects, infant swimmers demonstrated better motor skills. The authors suggested that a consistent swimming program may develop a baby’s fine and gross motor skills.
Let’s dive deeper into how swimming can aid your baby’s motor development.
Reflexes & Movements Start Developing
The study above cited that parents help their children gain and improve their motor skills. When you encourage your baby to swim, they’ll start exploring their surroundings. Doing so stimulates your little one’s senses, thus developing their reflexes and movements.
Young Brains Work Better
As your baby’s body helps them move, neurons form all over their brain. They’re mainly built in the corpus callosum, a thick bundle of nerve fibers joining the brain’s hemispheres. Neurons make communication, feedback, and modulation between both sides of the brain happen.
Your Baby’s Coordination & Balance Will Improve
Infants swim with their arms and legs, allowing the brain to process water’s tactile sensation and resistance. Moreover, the pressure water puts on a baby’s skin sends feedback to the brain, and that feedback tells your baby their current position in space, leading to better coordination.
The Other Benefits of Infant Swim Lessons
Along with helping your baby’s brain grow, swimming can also:
- Lower your child’s risk of drowning
- Serve as your baby’s bonding time with you
- Build your little one’s muscles
- Help your baby sleep better
- Improve your child’s appetite
Introducing Your Baby to Swimming: 7 Helpful Tips
Most swim schools teach infants starting at six months old to swim. However, these swimming programs may increase your baby’s risk of drowning. For this reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting an infant’s swimming lessons after their first birthday.
If you still want your child to take their first dip, these tips should help introduce them to swimming.
Start in the Bathtub
Spending time in a bathtub can make your baby feel comfortable in the water. Make sure to keep them company for a safe and enjoyable dip.
No bathtub? Fill a cup with water and gently pour it over your child’s hair. Let the waterfall to their face.
Pick the Right Time to Start Swimming
If you have a newborn, it’s fine to introduce them to swimming. Just ensure your baby’s belly button or circumcision has healed before their first swim.
A younger child may feel more comfortable taking a dip. But we highly recommend consulting your pediatrician first to ensure they’re ready to swim.
Make That First Dip Fun
After you and your baby enter the water, relax, smile, and look at your little one. These gestures will reassure your child that the water is safe and enjoyable.
Also, entertain your baby with songs or games in the pool (or bathtub). For fun water games, here are some to try.
- Motorboat: Hold your baby under their armpits, then sway them back and forth while singing, “Motor boat, motor boat, go so slow.” As your child gets used to the game, switch things up and sing, “Motor boat, motor boat, step on the gas!”
- Follow the leader: Challenge your little one to copy anything you do. Dip your toes in the water, dunk your nose, or wave your arms, and watch your baby imitate you.
- First stroke: Put a rubber duckie a little far from your baby. Encourage your child to grab and pull the toy toward them while holding them.
- Tummy time: Lay your baby’s tummy first on a foam mat. Then, slowly rock the mat. This game strengthens your baby’s back and neck and helps them float comfortably.
Check the Temperature
When finding the right temperature for a swim, you’ll want it to be at least 83°. You can have your baby swim in cooler water, but make sure they warm up every 10 minutes or so.
Furthermore, see if your little one’s lip, finger, and toe color stays the same. Stop swimming if a purplish color appears.
Set the Mood
If you’re at a swimming pool, find a calm, shallow area to dip into. Ensure a well-rested baby as well. Expect crying if your little one swims at their actual nap time.
Know When Your Baby Should Stop Swimming
Infants can feel afraid or scream and cry while swimming. In these situations, don’t force your baby to keep swimming. Get your child out of the water, reassure them, and try again later. Otherwise, return to the pool or bathtub after a considerable amount of time..
More importantly, not all infants will want to take a dip instantly. Follow your baby’s cues and stop when necessary.
Take Things Slow
As you help your child adjust to the water, go slow. Hold and keep your baby in your arms, then get them wet with a cup to make them comfortable.
After that, dip your child’s feet and other body parts up to their chin. Ensure their head stays above the water during the swim.
Your Baby Will Enjoy Bear Paddle Swimming Lessons
Infants can gain a lot from swimming. The activity helps them keep their bodies healthy, understand water safety, boost their confidence, and learn motor skills.
To reap these benefits, consider enrolling your baby in a suitable swimming program. Bear Paddle swimming lessons utilize a story-based approach to make learning fun. Learn more about our classes and sign your child up on our website today.