Water Babies in the UK was proud to be at the Palace of Westminster this week at the launch of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) report on Physical Activity in Early Childhood.
According to the report, which calls for a stronger Government focus on early years and exercise, all parents-to-be and new parents should be signposted to baby swimming as a recommended physical activity.
Furthermore, this new blueprint on early years exercise says that physical activity should also form part of any maternal health programmes developed by prenatal and postnatal providers.
This report is the first of its kind to document the wide benefits of baby swimming physically, emotionally and cognitively for the whole family, and its launch coincides with National Baby Swimming Week, which is taking place this week (16-22 October).
The report also recognises the proven impact on motor skills and academic performance of children who have taken part in early years swimming, compared with their non-swimming peers.
Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE is the Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood, who produced the report. In reference to last year’s Child Obesity strategy, where nutrition formed the core of recommendations, she 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, postnatal 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.”
The report also addresses the rise of the controversial Infant Self Rescue lessons, and recommends that all methods of teaching children to swim should be subject to Government research and scientific proofing before being licensed in the UK.
Water Babies MD, Steve Franks, says: “It’s really excellent to finally see a report that fully acknowledges 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.”
Water Babies in Ireland would be delighted to share this report with the Irish Government in an effort to increase physical activity in young children from an early age.