The first-ever National Baby Swimming Week organised by Water Babies, Ireland’s leading baby and toddler swim school, will run from next Monday, 31st October until Sunday, 6th November. The goal of National Baby Swimming Week is to encouraging mums and dads across Ireland to take their little ones to their nearest swimming pool or swimming class, for some fun family time, while gaining a host of health benefits along the way. And a bank holiday Monday is a great day to start!
Research* has shown why many families are heading to the pool, with some babies as young as just five days old attending Water Babies classes in Ireland. Water Babies teach babies and toddlers a potentially life-saving skill, helps with bonding, builds physical strength, as well as being great for their mental and social development. Plus, it’s great fun judging by the magical smiles on their faces!
Recent research conducted by Water Babies in Ireland, shows that those who start learning swimming from an early age have benefited in many ways. Parents from across Ireland were asked how Water Babies has helped their children and the response was incredible….
- Little Alfie McLoughlin (7 weeks) from Cork started swimming with Water Babies when he was just 5 days old – he’s the youngest ever baby to attend a Water Babies class. His big sister Mia (3½ years) has been swimming with Water Babies since she was a baby and has already saved herself on holidays when she fell into the deep end of a swimming pool. With the skills she learned at Water Babies she was able to hold her breath and make her way to the edge of the pool safely. Dad Martin McLoughlin loves spending time with his kids in the pool every week, teaching them how to swim. “It’s a life skill they need and love to learn, plus it’s good bonding time we can all enjoy.”
- Elaine Raftery swims with her nine-month old daughter Isabelle in Galway. Elaine, who is a physiotherapist, was diagnosed with post-natal depression four months after having her baby. She knew doing something together would benefit both of them. She found it hard to get the confidence to book the lessons but once she took a taster class they were hooked! “Everyone was so friendly and positive, Isabelle loved being in the water too. We are on chapter 2 now and we love it, it’s great for Isabelle’s development and for me personally meeting other parents and having a coffee afterwards has helped me far beyond my expectations.”
- Stefania Borza (Dublin) brought her little boy Dante (9 Months old) to Water Babies in Butterfield because she wasn’t very confident around water and his dad is absolutely terrified. Dante absolutely loves the water and loves splashing his Mum. Stefania wanted Dante to learn the importance of being safe in the water while having fun at the same time. “Feeling confident around water is very important me. We would never want Dante to be scared of water. We love seeing Dante have so much fun in the pool and getting to interact with the other kids.” Check Stefania & Dante talking about Water Babies here https://youtu.be/EFmSbwdF7ac
- Ciara Nolan and her husband David Byrne from Kilkenny have been bringing their little boy Henry to Water Babies for almost two years since he was a tiny baby. At first, it was for help with Henry’s silent reflux. After trying every trick known to man, they were advised by a specialist to try swimming to help reduce his constant discomfort and aid relaxation. “Water Babies worked a treat and the results after the class always amazed us. Henry would sleep peacefully for hours. The freedom of movement in the water clearly helped our little boy. Now that we have overcome the dreaded reflux hurdle, we attend purely for the fun and enjoyment of the class. The best thing about attending Water Babies is that the skills learned inside the pool are also used on a daily basis. HOLD ON HOLD ON is key no matter what the scenario is. If these words are said you will be sure Henry will not let go.”
- Sofia Lily Guilfoyle (3.5 years) from Greystones has been swimming with Water Babies since she was six weeks old so 3.5 years. Mum Sinead McKeever said “It’s all the ‘extras’, my daughter has learnt, not only how to swim but also physically and mentally Water Babies has helped her enormously. She is a confident outgoing girl, and the weekly exercise is great for her. She is very confident swimming on Holidays, from just a few weeks old she has learnt how to swim to the direction of the side of pool if she is in trouble, how to climb out of a pool etc. Also from mixing and making friends she is very sociable, it was also her 1st ‘class’ environment and now as she has just started her ECCE year the idea of a Teacher and Pupils is easy for her to comprehend.”
- Pat and Karen Cassidy have been attending Water Babies Classes for five years in Butterfield, Rathfarnham. Their little boy Callam who is now three years old loves spending time in the water with his Dad. They brought their children to build their confidence in the water and have fun, but best of all it’s a great way for Daddy and Callam to spend time bonding together.
Carol McNally, Water Babies Ireland said “Over the years we have seen countless babies and parents reap huge benefits from taking swimming classes with our highly qualified teachers. Sadly though, far too many young children are missing out on all the positive benefits that come with swimming simply because they have never learned this potentially life-saving skill.”
“Please ensure your child gets signed up for swimming lessons – and the earlier the better! Here at Water Babies we draw on years of experience and we would love to help your little one embark on this fabulous journey!”
For more information on Water Babies Taster Classes and the benefits of swimming from an early age go to: www.waterbabies.ie.
Ten Benefits of Water Babies & Baby Swimming
Water Babies is an exciting, enriching experience for everyone involved. Not only does it teach vital life skills, but it also enhances the way babies and toddlers learn other skills, too.
- It teaches water safety
Tragically, accidental drowning still results in more than 150 deaths per year in Ireland. Learning to get to the side, hold on, get out and/or swim could save your child’s life one day, so we teach vital safety techniques from birth. Over the years we’ve been incredibly proud to share the credit for having helped save a significant number of children’s lives. Water Babies have fallen into canals, swollen streams, private swimming pools – and survived, thanks to the skills they learnt with us. You can find out more on their news pages.
- It’s great for their physical and mental health
Swimming from birth is fantastic for your baby’s health & development, and could spark a lifetime’s interest in sport. Each lesson provides a complete physical work-out, strengthening your baby’s heart and lungs and in turn aiding development of the brain — including stimulating all 5 senses (taste, smell, touch, sight and sound). And with each lesson burning up to 300 calories, you’ll get a work-out, too!
- It promotes bonding
Skin-to-skin contact strengthens the bond between you and your child. For parents with more than one child, this may be your one chance in the week to focus purely on your infant (and will probably be the only time when your mobile phone will be out of earshot!).
- It boosts confidence
Introducing children to water at a very young age helps prevent a fear of water developing later. Exercises that involve moving independently in water and holding on to the side are wonderful for your baby’s confidence. Many parents also find that handling their baby 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 your baby can do!
- It develops their co-ordination
Being in the water helps improve co-ordination and balance. For example, a 2009 study by the Norwegian University of Science & Technology found that babies who swim have better balance and can grasp objects more easily¹.
- It builds their strength
Buoyancy and water-resistance mean that babies exercise more muscles, more effectively, in water than on land. Finnish research showed that swimming babies crawled later but walked earlier, thanks to their excellent muscle control.
- It develops their learning skills
Responding to repetitive voice commands can sharpen your baby’s mental skills and increase their levels of understanding. A German study found that swimming babies had advanced motor development, social skills and intelligence².
- It enhances their wellbeing
Warm water relaxes your baby and swimming stimulates their appetite; for you, the good news is improved sleeping and eating patterns!
- It provides structure
Weekly swimming classes contribute to structuring your week and your day, providing a regular fun and social activity (and, just possibly, a little sanity…)
- You can start from birth
Even the HSE agrees! You don’t need to wait until your baby has had his or her vaccinations before they go swimming (even underwater).
1 H Sigmundsson1 & B. Hopkins, ‘Baby swimming: exploring the effects of early intervention on subsequent motor abilities’ in Child: Care, Health and Development Volume 36, Issue 3, pages 428–430, May 2010.
2 Professor Liselott Diem, German Sports Centre, Cologne, 1974-1976.