OUR BABY & TODDLER TOP 10!
Benefits of Baby and Toddler Swimming Lessons
At H2O, our teachers use compassion, integrity, and trust to teach kids ages 4 months and older swim skills that will stay with them for life using our proprietary curriculum. For nearly all babies, swimming will be the first educational experience out of the home environment, and it is important to make it a positive one. Here is our top 10 list of reasons why starting swimming lessons at a young age is beneficial and an exciting, enriching experience for everyone involved!
1. It’s Natural
Within this age group lies the golden opportunity to become at home on, in, and under the water. The young baby is still close to the fluid environment they left in the womb – no fears and not yet claiming independence. Once babies are comfortable in the water, they won’t know a time when they didn’t know how to swim or were afraid of the water. The sooner you introduce your baby to the water, the easier it is for them to enjoy and celebrate the environment. Once they get a little bit older, toddlers may enter phases where fear (of many things) is more prevalent. So, by having swimming as a natural environment early on, they will be less likely to have any new feelings to become adjusted to when they start learning to swim. Even though your baby can’t walk yet, they can certainly start to learn swimming skills!
According to Parachute Canada's Cost of Injury Report, preventable injury (including drowning) is the leading cause of death for Canadians aged 1-44, and costs Canadians more than $26.8 billion/year. There is water all around us, especially in Manitoba (land of 100,000 lakes), so learning to swim and developing respect for the water is essential to safety! With time, practice, and developmental capability, your child will learn swimming skills that could save their life one day, so we teach developmentally appropriate techniques from 6 months old. Note that no child should ever be considered “drown proof” and you should always be vigilant when your child is in the water.
3. Physical Benefits
The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for the Early Years (0 – 4 years) states that infants should be active several times a day, and toddlers should accumulate at least 180 minutes of physical activity at any intensity spread throughout the day. All the fitness benefits that swimming brings adults (e.g. an increase in strength, muscle tone, endurance, and lung capacity, etc.) are also enjoyed by children. For young babies, movement through the water liberates them from a relatively static life, and allows them to exercise muscles that would otherwise not yet be used. For toddlers, swimming is a natural complement to their growing repertoire of land-based skills. We work on developing agility, balance, and coordination through a variety of different activities.
4. Emotional Benefits
Swimming allows young children to move independently much sooner than they can on dry land. Swimming can be very empowering for babies since it offers them a new sense of freedom. Every small achievement on the way to mastering a skill brings boosts of confidence and self-esteem. Research shows that physical activity helps with a range of topics, from self-esteem and sense of social inclusion, to clinical disorders (e.g. depression and anxiety).
Swimming is a fantastic way for parents to spend some precious one-to-one time with their babies and toddlers. Skin-to-skin contact strengthens the bond between you and your little one. Who better to teach your baby or toddler to swim than the people they trust the most? Parents are a young one’s best teachers, so we’ve designed our classes to help parents establish a positive, optimal learning environment. Our approach places your child at the center of learning, where they will learn and develop skills through developmentally appropriate activities. You will follow step-by-step learning progressions especially designed for young swimmers. You will play together, move in unison, exercise patience, encouragement, and kindness. You will become more aware of their learning style and changing needs/abilities.
Studies show that children who learned to swim at an early age demonstrated advanced development in many areas such as motor skills, intelligence, independence, and coping skills to name a few. Learning is a process, not a product – it should occur at the child’s pace when they are open, receptive, relaxed, and ready. We teach swimming (not thrashing or music classes) and that takes practice, patience, and time. When you give your child that time and patience, you lay a foundation of mutual respect and trust that you can build on. Celebrate each small step along the way, and remember there is no need to rush or force your child to perform as there will be periods of skill development, and learning plateaus. Not only do swimming lessons teach vital life skills, but they also enhance the way babies and toddlers learn other skills too.
7. Bathtub Fun
Have you struggled with bath time? Maybe you hate when your little one becomes agitated when water is poured over their head? We use an approach that teaches students to embrace and respect the water rather than fearing it. As your child’s view expands beyond the confines of their bath, you both develop ways to interact with water making baths become easier and more pleasurable while building their confidence. Teaching young ones that being in the water is fun translates to having a great experience in the H2O… including in the tub!
Weekly swimming classes contribute to structuring your week and your day, providing a regular fun and social activity (and possibly a little sanity!). When you come together with a group of like-minded parents and teach your children together, they will reap the social benefits. Young children learn from their peers by observing and mimicking them. Children begin to look forward to interacting with each other, learning to take turns, to share, and to try new skills. For older children fear may become more of a factor due to the child’s increased understanding of their physical world and actions. The Winnipeg Winter Club provides an excellent environment to be social with other families and build networks to enhance your family’s life.
When children are introduced to water at a very young age, it helps to prevent a fear of water from developing later. Exercises that involve moving independently in water are wonderful for your baby and toddler’s confidence. Many parents also find that handling their child in water is great for them, too — especially if they’re anxious about water or can’t swim. You’ll be so proud of what you and your child can do!
Just like reading and writing, we need to learn to move… it’s the gateway to active participation for life! If you can SWIM, you can kayak, jet ski, canoe, waterski, wakeboard, scuba, snorkel, speed swim, synchronized swim, dive, water polo, triathlon, kiteboard, feel safe on a boat, surf, swim in the lake at the cabin, etc.! By laying a skilled and confident foundation early in life, we are setting our young children up for success!
Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, Parachute Canada, Learn to Swim by Rob & Kathy McKay, Water Babies by Francoise Barbira Freedman