If your baby was born prematurely, they may experience some delays in the development of their water skills, as well as appropriate muscle tone, which can in turn impact on other developmental milestones. Swimming can help them catch up on the stages of motor development that they might have missed, while the increased resistance in the water will help to build their strength and muscle tone. Swimming is great for strengthening the muscles and superb for the lungs and cardiovascular fitness. It also stimulates the senses which is particularly important if your baby’s premature birth has resulted in any sensory deficits, eg. sight or hearing problems. Water is a great leveller, allowing you to focus on your baby’s abilities rather than their limitations while they simply have fun in a non-competitive environment.

Fascinating new research reports that a baby’s brain develops through bilateral cross patterning movements like swimming, crawling and walking. The more cross patterning movements, the more nerve fibres develop in the corpus callosum in the brain. The corpus callosum facilitates communication, feedback and modulation from one side of the brain to the other. Cross patterning movements like swimming activates both cerebral hemispheres and all 4 lobes of the brain simultaneously, which can result in heightened cognition and increase case of learning. Good communication in the cerebral hemispheres leads to overall efficiency in brain processes, while poor interaction slows down language development and academic learning.