Developmental advantage for baby swimmers
Baby swimming is good for developing balance and movement in young children according to researchers.
Children taught to swim as babies are better than their peers even at the age of five. The baby swimmers have better balance and are also better at grasping things.
The research was carried out by Brian Hopkins, Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Lancaster University and Hermundur Sigmundsson, a professor of psychology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NUST).
The study involved comparing baby swimmers against a control group of children who had not learnt swimming while they were babies.
The only factor that separated baby swimmers from the control group was swimming. All other factors such as the parents' education, housing and economic status were the same.
The baby swimmers had participated in swimming classes for two hours a week from the age of 2-3 months until they were about seven months old.
A typical session might involve helping the baby do a somersault on a floating mat, having the baby dive under water, jump from the pool edge, and balance on the hand of a parent while reaching to pick up floating objects.
Both groups were given similar exercises at age five, including walking on tiptoes, balancing on one foot, skipping rope, rolling a ball into a goal and catching a beanbag.
The baby swimmers scored the highest in exercises that related to balance and the ability to reach for objects.
The study is due for publication in the May issue of 'Child Care Health and Development'.