The benefits of bringing babies and toddlers swimming are being highlighted as part of National Baby Swimming Week.
The event is being run by Water Babies and it pointed out that swimming is one of the few things that babies can do from birth, and which feels natural to them, because they have just spent nine months in the womb.
However, there are also major benefits to their health.
"Despite looking gentle, swimming provides a complete physical workout. It strengthens the heart, lungs and respiratory system, which in turn aids the development of the brain. During their first year of life, a baby's brain grows more rapidly than at any other time, with every movement they make helping to strengthen this growth," commented Carol McNally who runs Water Babies classes in Dublin, Meath, Kildare and Louth.
The event is supported by Swim Ireland, the national governing body for swimming, and it noted the importance of swimming for cognitive development.
"Getting babies into the pool as early as possible encourages a positive association with water. This positive feeling aids with the conscious element of brain development, while subconsciously developing and reinforcing the neural pathways that help with movement and co-ordination.
"These aquatic experiences really do lay the foundations for absolutely everything a baby will do in later life. We cannot underestimate the benefits of baby swimming in developing confident, resilient and successful Irish people," commented Joni Harding of Swim Ireland.
Meanwhile, according to Irish Water Safety CEO, John Leech, National Baby Swimming Week provides an opportunity for parents to take practical steps to help safeguard their children by teaching them skills that will benefit them throughout life.
"Thirty children aged 14 and under drowned in Ireland in a 10-year period, making water safety a serious and significant public health issue," he said.
National Baby Swimming Week runs from October 16-22. For more information on Water Babies, click here
*Pictured is Millie Dunphy (14 months) from Kilkenny
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