Parents and pediatricians have pooled their thoughts about water safety and swim lessons for baby. The consensus is that children older than one could have a lower risk of drowning if given some form of formal swimming instruction.
Importance of Swim Classes
According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury or death for children. In order to keep children safe, more and more parents are including formal swim lessons as part of a drowning prevention program. Lessons are part of a combination of fencing for pools, appropriate adult supervision and CPR training for parents and caregivers. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends swim classes for parents and children who are planning summer water activities including beach trips, pool time, visits to water parks, boating or fishing.
Parents may choose to enroll a child over the age of one in swimming lessons, though not every child will be ready at the same age. It’s important to discuss your plans with your pediatrician to get an opinion on whether your child is developmentally and physically capable of swimming. Your pediatrician may have recommendations on suitable water safety and swimming programs.
Water Safety Tips
Kourtney Eidam of Parents Magazine recommends parents adhere to the following guidelines:
- Focus on safety and attentiveness. Keep your baby in your arms at all times.
- Begin by building your child’s confidence in the water. Gradually introduce your child to the water and hold their hand. You don’t want them jumping in too close to the wall and you don’t want them to panic.
- Never submerge a child under three years old.
- Use waterproof diapers to prevent leakage.
- Use flotation devices that allow a full range of movement and allow your child to float near you. Be careful not to teach swimming while your child is in a lifejacket otherwise he or she child may become dependent upon it.
- Focus on age-appropriate skills and avoid increasing the level of difficulty too early. Remember to be patient with your little swimmer. Keep you child’s attention by making water safety a game.
- When not helping your child swim, you should take a CPR course to learn correct life-saving techniques.
Find proper programs
The AAP recommends enrolling your child in a program that adheres to YMCA and American Red Cross guidelines. For kids under the age of one, parent-infant swim classes serve as a form of enjoyment and bonding. These are designed not necessarily to teach them how to swim, to get them used to being in the water. In these classes, parents also begin learning appropriate water safety tips for young children.
Aquatic survival programs like Infant Swimming Resource and Infant Aquatics are aimed at teaching children as young as six months how to float on their backs. Other techniques include teaching a baby to cry when it falls into a pool in order to alert any nearby adult.
Remember that swim lessons alone will not prevent your child from drowning. It is always up to you to make sure your child has proper supervision whenever a body of water is nearby.
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