Keeping your kids fit and healthy is crucially important for them now and in later life.
So we thought we would put together a series of articles helping parents think of cheap and affordable activities to help keep kids fit and busy!
First in the guide is a deep dive on baby swimming! We take a look at some of the main benefits of baby swimming, then some tips on doing it on a budget.
The physical skills gained through swimming are obvious – but what about some of the other, often overlooked benefits?
From improving their coordination to boosting their self-confidence, there are plenty of reasons why your child should hit the pool from a young age.
In this article, we’ll discuss these in more detail. We’ll also look into some of the research surrounding swimming and childhood.
Benefit #1 – Swimming will help your child live a longer, healthier life – FACT:
A study by Swim England (featured in the British Journal of Sports Medicine) concluded that swimming supports a person throughout their entire life. In fact, the study found regular swimming sessions can lower the risk of early death by 28%! But, your child won’t have to wait until they’re older to reap the health benefits of swimming:
“Swimming keeps your child’s heart and lungs healthy, improves strength and flexibility, increases stamina and even improves balance and posture.”
— Swim England
Taking your child swimming will promote a healthy and active lifestyle early in their lives. From a young age, your child will get into the routine of exercising and think activity is both fun and enjoyable.
Benefit #2 – Swimming is great for your baby’s development:
You don’t have to wait until your little one reaches school-age before taking them to the pool. There are plenty of swimming activities suitable for babies too. Not only is swimming mentally stimulating for infants, it also helps to develop their muscles and joints.
“Just like adults, [babies] use different muscles in the water, so it’s good for their development too.”
— NHS Start4Life
Swimming is one of the few activities that lets babies move independently before they can crawl or walk. It also gives them the chance to develop fine motor skills, explore balance and practise movements safety without bumping into walls or falling onto the floor!
Which brings us to benefit number three…
Benefit #3 – Swimming increases coordination and balance later in life:
Swimming improves a child’s coordination and balance AND it still has an effect years after they’ve taken lessons according to research conducted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. The study, published in the May 2010 issue of the Child: Care Health and Development, found that five-year-old children who participated in weekly swimming lessons between the ages of 2-7 months showed better levels of coordination and balance than their non-swimming peers.
“This difference persists even when children are five years old, when babies who have been taught to swim still outperform their peers.”
The professors found the five-year-olds who’d been taught to swim as babies were better at balance and reaching exercises, including walking on tip-toes, using a skipping rope and catching a bean bag.
Benefit #4 – Swimming helps babies and children sleep:
The relationship between sleep and exercise is well-known. Exercise uses up energy. In theory, the more energy you use, the more tired you’ll be. This is why The National Sleep Foundation recommends moderate exercise to ease the symptoms for people suffering from chronic insomnia.
Anecdotal evidence supports this too: think about how many times have you needed an early night after a busy day? Or a nap after a particularly gruelling gym session. The same goes for children. We’re not saying one swimming class will have your baby sleeping through the night or have your toddler off to bed at a reasonable hour, but it might be worth a try.
Baby on a budget: Looking for more tips to help you parent on (cheap) plan? This guide has loads of great tips.
Benefit #5 – Swimming builds confidence around water from a young age:
According to research conducted by the USA Swimming Foundation, children with no swimming ability are 67% more likely to be fearful of water and afraid of drowning.
By familiarising your child with water from a young age, you’re building their confidence in addition to teaching them lifesaving skills.
Benefit #6 – Swimming boosts social skills:
“Participation in swimming lessons can help children to develop physical, cognitive and social skills quicker [than those who do not have lessons].”
— Swim England.
Think about the new people your child will meet by the pool: the other children, the lifeguard, the teacher and the pool staff for example. Swimming increases the number of interactions your child has, helping them to build essential social skills for later on in life.
Benefit #7 – Swimming can strengthen the family bond:
“Swimming is one of the best loved family activities. It is the largest participation sport in the UK and many children say it is their favourite family pastime.”
— Swim England
A trip to the swimming baths is a popular family pursuit. It is affordable compared with other activities and accessible for the whole family: everybody can enjoy swimming, from baby to grandparent! Unlike other hobbies, there’s a low barrier to entry and you need very little specialist equipment. This brilliant activity can strengthen familial bonds and encourage unity.
For infants and toddlers, swimming improves the parent-baby bond, increases trust and fosters good communication.
Plus, according to research conducted by the USA Swimming Foundation, children who visit the pool with their family are 2.7 times more likely to be good swimmers!
Baby Swimming on a Budget
There are a couple of aspects of baby swimming that can come with a price tag.
Let’s look at how to budget when you have a baby and want to take them swimming below:
Baby swimming lessons can range in price, depending on who runs the lessons and their fees.
Privately run lessons tend to be a bit more expensive than lessons offered at council run swimming pools and similar, so have a look on your local authority website to see what they have on offer.
If there is nothing available, you can still consider getting in touch – if there is enough demand they may consider finding a teacher or training up an existing member of staff.
Baby Swimwear & Swim Nappies
Pro swimming lessons will always require swim nappies. Don’t try and save money here – buy some good quality reusable swim nappies from a brand like Splash About. It will save you money in the longrun compared to having to repeatedly buy disposable nappies – and it is also better for the environment!
We hope you have enjoyed our guide! If you have any comments or questions leave a comment below or tweet us @DumbFunded.