All parents-to-be and new parents should be signposted to baby swimming as a recommended physical activity, according to a new report.
The new blueprint on early years exercise, says that it should form part of any maternal health programmes developed by pre-natal and post-natal providers.
The strong emphasis on baby swimming forms part of Physical Activity in Early Childhood, a report launched this week (17 October) which calls for a stronger Government focus on early years and exercise.
In reference to last year’s Child Obesity strategy where a nutrition formed the core of recommendations, Baroness Floella Benjamin argues: ‘…schemes and finance streams predicated solely on improving the nation’s nutrition are not in themselves enough.
‘They must go hand-in-hand with the encouragement of physical activity in the pre-pregnancy, antenatal, post-natal and early childhood periods, establishing patterns for the positive behaviours that will reduce our national waistline and support the fit and healthy families that will make a 21st century United Kingdom truly fit for purpose.’
Baroness Benjamin is Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood, who produced the report.
The report is the first of its kind to document the wide benefits of baby swimming physically, emotionally and cognitively for the whole family and coincides with National Baby Swimming Week, taking place 16-22 October.
The report also recognises the proven impact on motor-skills and academic performance on children who have taken part in early years swimming, compared with their peers who have not.
The report also addressed the rise of the controversial Infant Self Rescue lessons and recommends that all child swimming teaching methods be subject to Government research and scientific proofing before being licensed in the UK.
Steve Franks of Water Babies, who sponsored the report, said: ‘It’s really excellent finally to see a report fully acknowledging the overwhelmingly positive effect of infant and baby swimming and its contribution to the fitness, health and wellbeing of the whole family.
‘Swimming really is a holistic activity and the recognition of its strong role in improving bone health, muscle tone, linguistic capability and spatial awareness as well as motor -skills development and cognitive awareness – leading to enhanced academic performance is long overdue.
‘Investing in all aspects of physical activity is a must for modern life. Swimming should be an integral part of such a strategy and not an ‘add on’ or optional extra.’