Planning your baby’s first dip in the water? Sounds fun! But before you start cheering for your tiny humans, make sure you’re aware of the pros and cons of infant swimming.
Expert says parents can introduce their infants to basic swimming lessons whenever they feel certain and comfortable about it, especially when infant swimming is becoming more popular these days. But for some people, this practice can also carry several risk factors that make it a controversial one.
Infants are not old enough to walk, which is why it sounds a little silly to expect them to swim in the pool at a very young age. The practice of swimming exercises requires coordination between arms, legs, head, and (of course) breathing, which your infant may not possibly control. But little do people know that infants are born to have reflexes that allow them to dive in the water like a pro.
Enough said, read on to weigh the pros and cons of infant swimming for you to decide whether to introduce your infant to swimming lessons at a very young age or not. In case you push through with this, we got you some safety precautions you need to incorporate your child with for a better and safer swimming experience.
Improves Cognitive Functioning
Swimming creates bilateral cross-patterning movements when the child uses both sides of his body to carry out an action. This type of movement has a brain-boosting power that helps build neurons throughout the brain (especially in the corpus callosum) and has a stimulating effect that helps develop the brain and increase intelligence, concentration, agility, and perceptual abilities of the infant. In the long run, this may also improve the child’s reading skills, language development, academic learning, and spatial awareness.
Reduces the Risk of Drowning
Drowning is one of the leading causes of death among children. Most of the drowning cases that involve children under 4 years old occur in home swimming pools. Hence, early swimming lessons may be helpful, especially when you have swimming pools at home. Being introduced to this practice may reduce the risk of drowning; however, it is important to supervise your children at all times while in the water, even if they have had swim lessons during their infancy stage.
Helps Build Strong Bones and Muscles
Infants will need to develop strong bones and muscles to hold their heads up, move their arms and legs, and work their body’s coordination and balance. Swimming at a younger age is one of the best ways to prepare them for important muscle development. Besides bones and muscles, swimming is also beneficial for the baby’s cardiovascular health, providing strength to his heart, lungs, brain, and blood vessels.
Swimming classes let the infants interact with an instructor through different learning elements that include playing, singing, and skin-to-skin contact. Once they get used to one-on-one coaching, infants will start learning to participate and function in groups. This practice helps boost the infant’s self-esteem at an early age, preparing the child for interaction with others at preschool age.
While swimming can be very beneficial, the pool itself can cause harm to your infants. Swimming classes would usually use one pool to teach several kids at the same time. When we put multiple children into a single pool that is only cleaned once a week, this can lead to a spread of different contagious diseases such as colds, cough, and skin disorders. Plus, the chemicals (basically chlorine) used to clean the pool may result in a formulation of toxic gas that these infants could breathe in over the pool surface, which is known to lead to asthma. Too much swallowing of chlorinated pool water can also lead infants to dizziness, nausea, and shock (in extreme cases).
Early Traumatic Experience
Sometimes an aggressive kind of instruction can result in a very traumatic experience for a child, which could possibly divert them from doing water activities in the future as traumatic experiences could have lasting effects on some children.
- No matter how confident you are, parents should never let infants go for a swim alone. There has to be someone to watch them over. And if you are supervising your children while swimming, make sure to eliminate distractions such as talking on the phone, working on a computer, etc.
- Make sure your child wears proper swimming gear: swimwear, personalised swim caps, etc.
- Follow pool rules and regulations at all costs.
- Learn CPR in case of an emergency.