Some children take to the pool like a fish to water, while others are a bit more hesitant to get their feet wet. If your baby loves the water, it may seem natural to enroll her in swimming lessons, but if she protests at every bath or shower, swimming lessons might be the last activity on your list. However, even for more timid tots, there are plenty of reasons to grab that swim diaper and test the waters.
If you’re not a strong swimmer, you may feel unsure about taking on the responsibility of bringing your baby to a swim class, but instructors and lifeguards are always on-deck to ensure everyone’s safety. Swim lessons for toddlers are mostly a tool for getting children used to the water, and starting to think of swimming as fun. Toddlers in swim lessons explore basic skills like blowing bubbles, kicking, floating, and breath control, and get used to strange sensations like getting their faces wet.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, drowning is a leading cause of death among children and toddlers. Children under age 4 aren’t able to fully learn to swim, though they can learn swim-related skills like kicking and holding their breath. Though swim lessons teach toddlers and parents important safety skills, there is not enough evidence to say they reduce the risk of drowning for children in this age group. However, lessons may teach parents to be more aware of the risks of drowning, and more proactive in teaching their children to swim.
Starting swimming lessons early could start children on the path to a lifelong interest in swimming, and the older they get, the more potential benefits swimming has. Swimming is a great cardiovascular exercise that promotes heart and lung health, and also improves strength and flexibility.
The benefits aren’t just physical, though. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also found that people tend to exercise for longer periods when swimming, and that the water is more relaxing than other types of activity. Therefore, the CDC finds, swimming can boost emotional health and even combat depression.
Swim lessons require your full attention, so you’ll be fully present during those moments with your baby, which can be a great bonding experience for you both. As long as you’re using appropriate safety precautions, swim lessons can be a fun, educational experience. Come on in - the water’s fine.