swimming with a baby

How Swimming Can Benefit Your Baby

Swimming with your baby is a wonderful way to spend a morning or an afternoon. But there is so much more to the activity: it is also a great way to engage with your baby and to stimulate her physical and cognitive development as she floats, kicks, splashes, glides and moves around the water while all the time benefitting from the safety of your close support and supervision. In the article below we look at some of the evidence detailing how and why swimming benefits your baby.

Swimming with a baby

The NHS in the UK says that it is fine for babies to be taken swimming even when they are very young and have not been vaccinated. And beginning early can make a real difference: the younger a child is, the less resistant they are likely to be to the water, and the more easily they should take to the pool. Here is a summary of some of the main benefits:

  • Swimming may improve cognitive functioning: when your baby swims, her arms and legs continually make contact with and register the resistance of the water. This provides lots of tactile feedback and can help to aid your child’s cognitive development and proprioception (the sense that allows us to perceive the position, movement, balance and force of our body). One interesting Griffith University study of more than 7,000 children found that children who swim regularly may be more physically and mentally developed than those who don’t.(1)
  • Learning to swim reduces the risk of drowning: one study found that taking part in formal swimming lessons led to an 88% reduction in the risk of drowning for 1 to 4-year-old children.(2)
  • Confidence boosting: parents whose instinct tells them that regular swimming will improve their child’s confidence may be right. One 2010 study found a link between the confidence and adaptability levels of 4-year-old children and the taking of swimming lessons between 2 months and 4 years.(3)
  • Bonding: swimming is a great opportunity for skin-to-skin contact and one-to-one bonding with parents.
  • Builds health and strength: swimming will help your baby to develop muscles and coordination in an environment where, because of their buoyancy in the water, they have an unusual level of freedom of movement. It will also help cardiovascular fitness, circulation and balance.
  • Behaviour: research indicates that regular swimming may help children to regulate their behaviour as they grow and develop. Although the study was primarily concerned with children with autism spectrum disorders, its findings may be relevant to other children too.(4)
  • Sleep patterns: in 2013, a National Sleep Foundation study found that swimming may help to improve both sleeping patterns and the quality of sleep.(5)


Swimming may not be for every child (or their parents), but if you start soon and begin without pressure, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that swimming with a baby is beneficial to early childhood development. It is also a fun way to spend one-to-one time with your baby and is great for parent-child bonding.

Find out more about safe swimming with your baby.


1. https://news.griffith.edu.au/2012/11/15/swimming-kids-are-smarter/
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4151293/#:~:text=Conclusions,from%203%25%20to%2099%25.
3. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2214.2009.00990.x
4. Pan, C. Y. (2010). “Effects of water exercise swimming program on aquatic skills and social behaviors in children with autism spectrum disorders.” Autism 14(1): 9-28.
5. https://www.poolman.com/swimming-can-help-you-sleep-better-study-reveals/