Extensive research studies around the globe have shown that safe (a.k.a. with a responsible adult) exposure to swimming in early life has multiple benefits.
"The water has over 600 times the resistance of air, which is great for the muscles and it encourages neurological development, too. The more tactile stimulation of the nerves the child experiences, the more that interconnections and neural pathways can develop in the brain cells," explains Lana Whitehead, owner of SWIMkids USA.
The Griffith Institute for Educational Research conducted a comprehensive study in which they surveyed 7,000 children under 5 in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States over four years, and conducted "intensive testing" with another 180 children between the ages of 3 and 5. In a YouTube video (above) about the study, Robyn Jorgensen said, "Swimming children score significantly better than the normal population on a number of measures that are really important for their transition to school: their cognitive development, their language development, and their physical development."
The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) conducted a study in which 19 babies, who participated in swimming classes for 2 hours per week beginning at 2-3 months old, were compared to 19 babies with no early swimming exposure. "We saw very clearly that baby swimmers were the best in exercises that related to balance and the ability to reach for things," said Hermundur Sigmundsson, a professor of psychology at NTNU.
The German Sports College Cologne conducted several years of testing among young swimmers, and found that "swimming children" seemed more independent, less timid, and were more willing to make eye contact than non-swimmers of the same age. They also seemed better able to cope with new and strange situations.
Another German study found that children who had early, year-round swim lessons exhibited greater self-control, had a strong desire to succeed, had better self-esteem, and were more comfortable in social situations than non-swimmers.
Just Keep Swimming... Safely!
Overall, research findings promote safe exposure to swimming by children over 6 months of age.
For young children, the American Academy of Pediatrics advocates for "touch supervision," in which the responsible adult has hands on the child whenever they are in or near the water.
As long as you're being safe, swimming can bring many benefits to your child's life! Have fun!