Rob and Kathy McKay’s Anecdotal Evidence of the Benefits of Baby Swimming
Our over 60 years of combined experience, teaching tens of thousands of babies to swim, has allowed us to experience first-hand the many benefits infant, toddler and tyke swimming offers to the developing child. Below is our “short list “ of key benefits we have observed throughout our careers.
• Bonding. A special time, a special place for you and your child. In what other medium are you able to bond face to face, skin to skin and share the joys of learning together so intimately and comfortably!
• Foundation. Early swim lessons set a positive foundation towards a lifetime of participation and enjoyment in a variety of water sports and aquatic venues on, in and under the water. Each class is an interactive recreational activity in a new and exciting liquid environment. “Go Pool” are often among the first words spoken by young “Diaper Dolphins”.
• Health/Strength. Swimming imports great joy into the lives of infants and toddlers. It also fashions healthier and stronger individuals. Many students can swim before they can walk. As, their swimming progresses you will witness improved coordination, strength, muscle tone, endurance and lung capacity. Swimming exercises the body bi-laterally, therefore across both brain hemispheres, improving coordination, grace, agility and balance.
• Therapy. Water is a forgiving healer. Water’s caressing and stimulating effect on children with special needs is most remarkable. Its buoyancy is like an invisible helping hand. Zero gravity allows for freedoms that do not exist on the dry land. Optimal learning conditions, combined with kindness and patience can even release a withdrawn or hurting child from their shell. Also, over the years, we have discovered that autistic infants, babies, toddlers and tykes and their parents find the nurturing swimming experience to be an engaging, calming and positive tactile environment for developing, interacting and growing together. Much as “floortime” works for children on the autistic spectrum (ASD), so too, early swim lessons taught with toys, games, songs, motion and verbal communication can help stimulate learning interactions.
• Peer Learning. This is often a child’s first social experience out of the home that involves their peers. They learn to relate and interact with each other and look forward to seeing their class mates. Caring and patient moms and dads of young children have an ideal opportunity to meet like- minded people who share their common interests. Children participating in a happy, group atmosphere learn to take turns, share, follow directions, mimic one another, learn sequencing in songs, and games, employ their imaginations and practice sensory exercises.
For the right people, in the right situation, baby swimming can nurture a connectedness to family, community and to the outer world.
• Safety skills are a primary reason why many people initially enroll in lessons. But, as you now know, there is much more to infant/toddler swimming than merely one aspect. However, with the acquisition of safety skills not only is early swimming life enhancing, it can be lifesaving. The younger a child can begin their swimming adventure the sooner they will be able to build a foundation for the eventual ability to perform age appropriate safety skills (never imposing techniques on a child against their will or with the use of force). We must note that it is always the parents’ responsibility to ensure the safety of their children. No one is ever “Drown proof”!
• Improved Sleep. The smooth and fluid exercise in the water results in healthier naps following class. Parents attending the evening classes have noted improved sleeping patterns throughout the night.
• Personality. Early swimming fosters a growing sense of self-esteem, confidence and independence. As a child’s ability to freely move through the water increases so does their sense of well-being. Eventually, for those families who persevere, a point is reached where their child truly feels at home in the water and becomes a DIAPER DOLPHIN.
“My happiest time is when I can play in the pool with my mom and dad.”
Take it slow, have fun, enjoy the journey, go the distance– the payoff is for life.