Physical Development – Water Babies

Ideally, the promotion of physical development for babies should begin immediately after birth, or as soon as possible because babies put on a lot of weight very quickly which works against them when trying to develop motor coordination.  In an earlier post, I lamented over the fact that I had missed the boat with Gareth because we started on the physical activities late.  While Doman talks about what you can do to help your child become physically superb in his book “How to Teach Your Baby to be Physically Superb“, there is not much said about what to do if you miss the boat.

Although you could try to make up for lost time by giving your baby more opportunities to develop his physical attributes, I find myself uncomfortable allowing Gareth to get too frustrated on his tummy.  Doman states in the book “How to Teach Your Baby to be Physically Superb” that some babies will cry during tummy time but it’s okay because crying helps them get more oxygen.  He also adds that parents should only do what they feel comfortable with and I don’t feel comfortable with that.

So what else can you do?

Introduce water play.  The IAHP says that babies love to swim.  I second that.  Both Gavin and Gareth are water babies.  They loved talking baths from the moment they were born.  Unfortunately, I didn’t really capitalise on that fact with Gavin because I never took him swimming until he was one year old.  Now, although he still loves playing with water, he doesn’t like it when the water gets too deep and he isn’t very adventurous at the swimming pool.

Thankfully, it isn’t too late for Gareth…

I bought the neck float for Gareth that I wrote about and we took the boys swimming yesterday.  Suffice to say that Gareth looked like he was in heaven the moment we put him into the swimming pool.  We let him kick around in the water for about 15 minutes before taking him out.  I’m sure he would have enjoyed a longer swim but we didn’t want to over do it on his first day.  It was probably just as well because he was half asleep by the time we got to the car.  It must have been an exhausting exercise because he slept a lot throughout the rest of the day.

I’m afraid I don’t have any photos to show because I was a little busy in the water watching both boys.

Being in the water is great for Gareth because he can exercise without the hindrance of his weight.  He loves being in the water and he has a lot of fun while he’s at it.  Now I can still help him work on his motor development without making him frustrated.  As he gains better physical strength and coordination in the water, it will help to “enhance the ability to crawl on the belly and creep on hands and knees”.  So if you’ve missed the critical window of opportunity to develop your baby physically from birth, the next best thing to do is to take your baby swimming.

The neck float is one of the best flotation devices to use because it provides your baby the greatest freedom of movement in the water while most other floats restrict movement.

Swimming also offers other benefits to your baby’s development.  Because the brain grows through use, swimming provides additional sensory stimulation and opportunity for a baby to grow his brain.  This translates not only to physical development but mental development.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

4 thoughts on “Physical Development – Water Babies

  1. Hi Shen-Li, looking at all your posts, i must say that i’m very ashame of how I am (not) helping my children to develop. At 3mo now, my boy still cant fall asleep on his own & still doesnt have a fixed daily schedule now.. which is my biggest concern at the moment. I didnt get to check the books at Popular as one of my friends has helped me get them in Sg, waiting for my collection now. Hope they will come in useful!!!


  2. Please do not feel ashamed. As long as you are spending time with your baby, you are helping him to develop. Don’t worry if he can’t fall asleep on his own – both my boys cannot fall asleep on their own either. Gavin can only when he’s really, really tired. Gareth still needs me to rock him, nurse him, etc. In time, I’m sure they won’t need me any more so I treasure these moments where they cuddle up to me at night.


  3. Oh, then how does Gavin take his nap and sleep at night? my daughter is still using the sarung sling for nap. she can sleep on her own at night, but only in her own bed.. we really have trouble if we are traveling.
    you really inspired me, Shen-Li! i have never looked at it this way – that i should treasure this moment. all i think about is how other babies are easily taken cared of, and how my children could not even do the simplest things all children do.


  4. I started dropping Gavin’s afternoon nap after Gareth was born. It was getting too difficult to get him to sleep in the afternoon and if he did sleep in the afternoon, it would take ages to get him to sleep at night. These days, I only give him an afternoon nap if we need to go out at night or if he’s really sleepy.

    With Gareth, I have no fixed routine. When he’s tired, I just rock or nurse him to sleep.

    Actually, I think having a second child puts new perspective on the first. There are a lot of moments I miss from when Gavin was a baby. When Gavin is older, I will miss him as he is now. Of course he has his difficult moments where I feel like pulling all my hair out and screaming, but when he’s asleep, I think of all the cute and adorable things that he does and I feel better.


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