Benefits of Infant Hydrotherapy

When your baby isn’t old enough to walk, it may seem silly to take them to the pool. But there can be so many benefits to splashing around and wiggling through the water.

Being in the water engages your baby’s body in a completely unique way, creating billions of new neurons as your baby kicks, wiggles, and smacks at the water.

Children who don’t get their feet wet until later tend to be more fearful and negative about swimming. Younger children are also usually less resistant to floating on their backs, a skill that even some babies can learn!

Here’s the lowdown on the potential benefits of infant swim time.

1. Swimming improves cognitive functioning

Bilateral cross-patterning movements, which use both sides of the body to carry out an action, help your baby’s brain grow.

Cross-patterning movements build neurons throughout the brain, but especially in the corpus callosum. This facilitates communication, feedback, and modulation from one side of the brain to another. Down the road, this may improve:

  • reading skills
  • language development
  • academic learning
  • spatial awareness

When swimming, your baby moves their arms while kicking their legs. And they’re doing these actions in water, which means their brain is registering the tactile sensation of water plus its resistance. 

A four-year study of more than 7,000 children by the Griffith University in Australiasuggested children who swim have advances in physical and mental development when compared to their peers who don’t swim. those who swam  were 11 months ahead of the normal population in verbal skills, six months ahead in math skills, and two months ahead in literacy skills. They were also 17 months ahead in story recall and 20 months ahead in understanding directions.

2. Improves confidence

Most infant classes include elements like water play, and songs with parents or caregivers. These elements, plus the fun of learning a new skill, may boost your baby’s self-esteem.

3. Builds Muscle

Swim time helps promote important muscle development and control in babies at a young age. Little ones will need to develop the muscles needed to hold their heads up, move their arms and legs, and work their core in coordination with the rest of their body. Not only does swim time for babies improve their muscle strength and ability on the outside, but the exercise provides internal benefits as well by getting those joints moving. 

Swimming is also great for cardiovascular health and will help strengthen your little one’s heart, lungs, brain, and blood vessels.

4. Improves coordination and balance

Along with building muscle, time in the water can help your baby improve their coordination and balance. It’s not easy learning to move those little arms and legs together. Even small coordinated movements represent big leaps in your baby’s development. 

5. Improves sleep

Hydrotherapy takes a lot of energy for babies. They’re in a new environment and using their bodies in completely new ways.

All of that extra activity uses up a lot of energy, so you may notice that your little one is sleepier after a Hydrotherapy session. You may have to schedule in time for a nap after or move up bedtimes on the days that swim time is in your routine.

6. Improves appetite

There’s nothing like a good splash in the water to make you  hungry, and babies are no different. All of that physical exertion in the water, as well as the energy it takes their little bodies to stay warm, burns a lot of calories. You’ll probably notice an increase in your baby’s appetite after regular swimming time.

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