Fishes in the Ocean…

Fishes in the ocean,

Fishes in the sea,

We all jump in on 1, 2, 3…

Aqua Baby

AquaBaby – Copiloo in his element

 In my opinion, there are two types of new moms out there:

1)      The overly-cautious mom, the one that cocoons her baby more than necessary out of fear that the tiny creature is too vulnerable to deal with the big bad world it’s been thrown  into; and

2)      The highly adventurous mom, the one who is constantly looking for challenges to subject her mini-super hero to, in an attempt to seize every single moment and every single opportunity out there because, you know, time passes and you do not get a second chance on a day lost.

I am definitely the latter. Other than keeping my son away from crowded places (like Home Depot where his dad wanted to take him a week after we came home from the hospital) for the first two months of his life, before his first round of immunizations, I haven’t really done anything else but keep him moving. He was not even 3 months old and he already had the extra-curricular activities schedule of an elementary-school-er: mommy’s parenting classes to which he took part, his own Developmental Activities Classes, and weekly meet-ups with tykes his age; then starting with age 5 months we joined a swimming class; then at 7 months we join My Gym. I’m already brainstorming on what will be next. :)

Out of all these to-dos, the swimming classes are the most fun and beneficial (IMHO).

Fun because it’s an activity that allows for parental closeness and involvement; how awesome is it to share an enjoyable half an hour floating in 84F water, splashing your hands and feet in the water, singing and goofying around? Also I believe it gives your little one the chance to experience the interaction with you from a new perspective: when swimming with your little one you will be immersed in water making it down to his/her eye level, rather than towering over them, as it happens in the play room.

Beneficial because, can you imagine a better environment for an infant to work out those little muscles than the weightless water? They can easily use more muscles than they otherwise can as they are not restricted by their inability to sit or stand. Also, in water babies are exposed to more multi-sensory stimulation, the tactile stimulation is heightened because of the water resistance over their entire body, their hearing and sight are stimulated, their smell and taste – no matter what you do they will end up swallowing some of the water they’re swimming in, and that’s alright (I will make the safe assumption you are swimming in a clean, chlorinated pool)! Stimulating the senses sends signals to the brain which strengthens the development of interconnections and neural pathways.1

Moreover, lots of other the short- and long-term positive effects of swimming at such an early age have been proved through scientific research. It has been shown that baby swimmers have better balance and are able to reach for and grasp things more easily than non-swimmers.2 A study conducted over a period of 5 years, showed that 5 year-old children who have learned to swim as babies performed outstandingly at “exercises that included walking on tiptoes, balancing on one foot, skipping rope, rolling a ball into a goal and catching a beanbag,” much better than their non-swimming peers.3

And remember, when swimming with your baby you are holding them close and often look into their eyes – this circles back to the fun this activity brings about, offering both of you high quality stimulation and the opportunity to form  a deeper emotional connection. It has been shown in research time and again that a parent’s tender loving strokes and skin-to-skin time give the baby the secure feeling of attachment and connection, and provides the emotional nourishment that enables him to feel loved and secure, emotional bonds which lay the foundation for further emotional and intellectual development.4

There are other scientific studies that reiterate these findings, and underline the positive impact water movements early in life have on children’s physical, mental and emotional development. Children that were part of a study from the German Sports College in Cologne showed higher scores for intelligence and problem-solving and excelled in school, while also proving to have higher self-esteem, be more self-disciplined, have greater self-control and desire to succeed.5 Similar to the findings of the German study, Dr Liselott Diem’s longitudinal study showed that children who were baby swimmers were more independent, had more self-confidence and were more comfortable with and better adapted to new situations.6

So you see? An activity that can be real fun for the whole family, is also highly beneficial for your little one’s short- and long- term development. When I first looked into enrolling Copiloo in a swim class I really did it only because I love the water, we are after all a beach family, and I was really interested in the Infant Self-Rescue program. Although adult supervision is key, familiarity with water and the ability to float or swim to the edge of the pool can significantly reduce the risk of an infant/toddler drowning. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the leading cause of injury death for children ages 1 to 4, and learning life-saving skills like swimming can reduce the risk of drowning by as much as 88% for kids in this age group.7

Enough with the pondering! Go ahead and find the pool nearest your home and add the fun to your family’s calendar. Not only will your child learn a life-saving skill and reap the social, emotional and physical benefits of swimming, but they will get the much needed work out to keep them asleep at night!

We’re currently taking classes at South Bay Aquatics in Torrance, and are on the waiting list for the Manhattan Beach location. (Apparently we’re in the hundreds! Copiloo will be a Junior in high school before we’d get a call back…) We’re happy in Torrance though, a bit of a commute but it’s all worth it. Jackie, our instructor, is the sweetest girl, knowledgeable about infant swimming, and, more importantly, attentive and considerate of her students’ feelings. Since they can’t really let you know whether they’re in the mood for submersion or not, one needs to be able to pay close attention to other cues. I hope you and your little one will take the leap and join us in the pool!

 

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  1. Nash, JM. (1997). Fertile Minds. Retrieved on October 22, 2013 from http://www.burlingtonacademy.com/pdf/fertileminds.pdf []
  2. Norwegian Institute of Science and Technology. (2013). Baby swimming brings benefits. Retrieved on October 22, 2013 from http://www.ntnu.edu/news/babyswimming []
  3. Norwegian Institute of Science and Technology. (2013). Baby swimming brings benefits. Retrieved on October 22, 2013 from http://www.ntnu.edu/news/babyswimming []
  4. Field, T. (2003). Touch. The MIT press. []
  5. Reese, M. (2013, June 21). Research shows benefit of early swimming lessons. Retrieved on October 22, 2013 from http://blogs.evtrib.com/evmoms/2013/06/21/guest-column-research-shows-benefit-of-early-swimming-lessons/ []
  6. Reese, M. (2013, June 21). Research shows benefit of early swimming lessons. Retrieved on October 22, 2013 from http://blogs.evtrib.com/evmoms/2013/06/21/guest-column-research-shows-benefit-of-early-swimming-lessons/ []
  7. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Drownings – The Reality. Retrieved on October 22, 2013 from http://www.cdc.gov/safechild/Drowning/index.html#tips []

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