Bilateral cross-patterning movements, which use both sides of the body to carry out an action, help your baby’s brain grow. Cross-patterning movements build neurons throughout the brain, but especially in the corpus callosum. This facilitates communication, feedback, and modulation from one side of the brain to another. Down the road, this may improve:
- reading skills
- language development
- academic learning
- spatial awareness
When swimming, your baby moves their arms while kicking their legs. And they’re doing these actions in water, which means their brain is registering the tactile sensation of water plus its resistance. Swimming is also a unique social experience, which furthers its brain-boosting power. A four-year study of more than 7,000 children by the Griffith University in Australia
suggested children who swim have advances in physical and mental development when compared to their peers who don’t swim. Specifically, the 3- to 5-year-olds who swam were 11 months ahead of the normal population in verbal skills, six months ahead in math skills, and two months ahead in literacy skills. They were also 17 months ahead in story recall and 20 months ahead in understanding directions. However, the study’s findings were only an association and not firm evidence. The study was also sponsored by the swim school industry and relied on parental reports. More research is needed to explore and confirm this potential benefit.