Regular dips will help babies grow stronger

South Wales Evening Post
03. februar 2012

IN he goes! Staring inquisitively into the lens, this baby looks like a natural under the crystal clear waters.

He is just a few months old and may still be wet behind the ears, but this is one water baby taking to swimming as if it were the most natural thing in the world thanks to a new club in the Swansea Valley.

Why? Well, newborns, it seems are perfectly prepared for an aquatic environment from being in the womb. And growing numbers of parents are now launching their offspring into swimming pools to give them water confidence skills.

Most parents sign their children up for baby swimming because they want them to be safe around water. But once they start, they are said to also discover other hidden benefits.

Very young children can gain vital skills for their development through swimming at an early age — so there is no longer any excuse for tears at bath-time.

New Swimkidz classes have just launched at a private pool at Clydach in the Swansea Valley.

Mum-of-three Claire Nicholls-de-Freitas, 36, from Pontardawe says she believes it helps babies and young children make new brain connections and strengthen their learning through exercise and stimulation.

“Introducing babies to swimming early improves babies and children’s development in many areas — physically, intellectually, language development, emotionally and socially,” she adds.

“I have been amazed at how it has helped. My three are all a bit older now. Buy my daughter, Ava, was just five weeks old when we took her into a pool for the first time.”

The specially heated pool allows small classes of babies to learn turns, submersions and floating techniques, sometimes before they can even crawl.

The innovative programme also offers a new bonding experience to parents while teaching invaluable water confidence skills.

The health benefits of swimming are overwhelming.

Several studies have shown that “babies who have been swimming during the first two years of their lives develop a greater sense of their surroundings, and are therefore already learning to be more creative. Experiences in water also allow babies to better develop their psychomotor skills, because there they can move more freely and begin to understand concepts of distance and movement. The cardio-respiratory system is also strengthened as the baby exercises his or her heart and lungs.

There are psychological benefits, too. Swimming lessons help babies become more confident and provide them with a sense of relaxation, while the experience also contributes to their socialisation.

Swimkidz Trish Hare says babies have a natural ability for swimming, having a different reflex that makes them perfect candidates for swimming.

“Healthy babies are born with extremely sophisticated natural reflexes that protect them from any harm and are very important as they promote their survival.

“We work around these reflexes to turn them into deliberate actions.

“There are real psychological benefits too. The lessons help babies become more confident and provide them with a sense of relaxation while the experience also contributes to their socialisation.”

A baby’s gag reflex is activated when water enters the mouth. Parts of the throat called the glottis and epiglottis close to prevent water from entering. This provides a watertight seal to the lungs while the baby is submerged.

Babies also have what is called “the amphibian reflex”. This is an involuntary movement of their arms, legs and torso, which helps them with turns, rotations and kicking.

Claire Nicholls-de-Freitas says the classes are great because the babies develop all sorts of motor skills.

“In the first few years of a baby’s life they experience huge development as their brain grows faster than in later years.

“The lessons also help babies to make new brain connections and strengthen their learning through skills and stimulation, and a weekly swim provides a good workout and improves the cardiovascular system.

“For me though I think it is the confidence boost it has given them that has been the biggest thing.

“They are all still in the process of learning. But they all love it.”