Babies in the Swim of Things

by Pool Builders on 06-06-2010 in Articles

As a mom who once lived on a lake while raising a child, I respect the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations concerning swimming lessons for children. In the past they advised against swimming lesson for children under the age of four. Apparently new research has found those children under the age of four are less likely to drown if they have had formal swimming lessons. Because the studies were small, and they do not define what kind of swimming lessons worked best, the AAP's position still stands. They do not recommend swimming lessons for children under the age of four at this time. Their new policy recommends that parents should decide if swimming lessons will benefit the child based on the following factors:

• child 's frequency of water exposure
• emotional development
• physical abilities
• health conditions related to pool, e.g., water infections, and pool chemicals

I think AAP's biggest concern is that parents would rely on the fact that if children have had swimming lessons, those parents would be less vigilant in regards to supervising their children while around water, which can result in more drownings.

I agree whole heartedly that it is a decision to be made by the parents. If you live on or around any bodies of water, or have a pool I highly recommend swimming lessons for babies or children under the age of four. In fact, my son and I enrolled in swimming lessons when he was six months old. It was a wonderful and rewarding time for both of us. We had a full 30 minutes of playtime in the water. This playtime included lots of holding, touching, hugging and kisses! It was a fun way for my child to learn to relax in the water. The instructor basically taught us as the parent to teach our children how to relax in the water, how and when to hold their breath, jumping into the pool, diving underwater for toys and meeting other playmates and moms. It was one of my best bonding experiences with my son. Of course there was some choking from swallowing a little water, and some tears, but that was far and few between.

Just because my son could swim really well at such a young age, it did not eliminate my need to be vigilant when we were outside. Basically, I considered the lake our front yard. I had to be watchful whenever we were outside. What the swimming lessons did for me is make me more comfortable with the fact that I knew my child could hold his breath long enough for me to get a hold of him, and I knew if he didn't panic he could roll over on his back and float until I was able to reach him. The lessons were more for my peace of mind than anything. I knew accidents happen, and I just wanted to be prepared as best as I could. Swimming lessons do not prevent accidental drowning; it is just another tool to safety. Life vests are imperative for children of all ages to wear in and around the water.

If you are considering swimming lessons find a certified instructor. You can find a certified instructor either through you local YMCA, or you can visit usswimschools.org and click on swim school directory in the left hand navigation bar. Once you find a class, observe a lesson before joining. After you have joined have fun playing in the water, realize that their playing is learning. Another hint, don't compare your child with the other children. Each child is unique and learns at their own speed. Praise them for what they do well, knowing you are helping your child to swim in a fun filled safe environment which helps build confidence, self-esteem and a feeling of accomplishment.

Remember it is always the responsibility of a parent to supervise their children in and around the water. Swimming Lessons and or life vests are not a guarantee of safety.

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