Grandpa and Grandma started it. They suggested we sign the oldest child up for his first lesson at seven months.
I very hesitantly went along. What could it hurt!
I was even more hesitant, when a few lessons in the swim instructor instructed me to put him completely underwater. My stomach dropped as she mentioned submerging my firstborn baby underwater. I did as she instructed with a lump in my throat.
He survived and reacted just as she said he would. By the time the other two kids came, I was demonstrating this for the rest of the class.
Our kids all took infant parent child swim lessons, preschool lessons, and are progressing through the learn to swim classes quicker than same age peers. That aside, we wanted our kids safe in and around water and wanted to take any precautions we could to do that.
After the initial convincing, we realized that infant swim lessons had several benefits for our kids.
Benefits of Swimming Lessons for Babies
1. There are preventive benefits to starting early.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates. In 2009, of the children ages 1-4 who died from an unintentional injury, more than 30% died from drowning.
Statistics like these lead the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2010 to update their advice on drowning prevention. Prior to 2010 they had advised against swimming lessons for children ages 1 to 3. With a decrease in drowning rates from 2006 to 2009 and evidence showing that children ages 1 to 4 are less likely to drown when they have had formal swim instruction, they amended their guideline. They suggest parents look at the child’s exposure to water, emotional development, physical abilities, and certain health conditions.
A small study conducted by Ruth Brenner and her colleagues in 2009 at the National Institute of Health, discovered that participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% among children aged 1-4 years.
2. Starting early reduces the risk of developing negative associations and fear of the water.
Early swim classes are meant to get kids used to and comfortable in the water. They play a lot of games to get kids accustomed to the water and ready for formal swimming lessons. They work on swim readiness skills by having kids move their arms through the water reaching for a ball, laying on their stomach and back while supported, kicking their legs, and blowing bubbles without swallowing water.
This way when your child is ready to start formal swimming lessons, the instructor is not spending the first several lessons accumulating kids to the water and getting them to stick their face in the water.
3. You learn safety in and around the pool.
Parents and kids learn important pool safety such as how to hold your child, proper flotation devices, and how to enter and exit the pool.
4. Swimming lessons aid in development.
Swimming lesson help with coordination, strength, balance, and muscle development.
A very small study conducted at Norwegian University of Science and Technology with Dr. Hermundur Sigmundsson and his colleagues found baby swimmers developed better balance, movement and grasping techniques than non-swimmers. This difference persisted even when the children were five years old; the baby swimmers still outperformed their peers in these skills.
Just think of all the gross motor activity they are getting by kicking their legs, splashing their hands, and doing strokes.
5. Swimming encourages a healthy lifestyle.
We all know the many benefits of exercise, such as control weight, reducing stressing, improving mood, and reducing the risk of many health conditions.
Swimming is a great form of exercise. It does not require any fancy equipment. If done correctly, swimming can work the whole body. Swimming can be done with injuries.
Disclaimer: I am not a certified swim instructor. I am a parent who has done years of early swim lessons with my three kids and seen benefits.