Swimming Lessons Are Not Enough to Make Preschoolers Watersafe

by Pool Builders on 04-15-2009 in Articles

The weather is getting warmer and we're all starting to think about pools, beaches and sunshine. We also need to think about water safety for kids. Drowning is the #1 cause of accidental death for children ages 1-2 in California, and drownings increase in the summer months, from May - August. Often, though, we read these warnings in ads for swim lessons for infants and toddlers. They don't actually state that swim lessons will make your child safer around the water, but that's the implication. Is it true?

The American Academy of Pediatrics makes a distinction between formal swimming lessons and aquatic programs. Children are not developmentally ready for formal swimming lessons until they're four. You can try to teach them earlier, but they won't really learn it well until they're old enough. One study found that regardless of when children start swim lessons, they learn to swim well at about age 5 ½. Any time infants or toddlers are in or near water, an adult should be within arm's length. That includes bathtubs. Read the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations at aappublications org.

So what about aquatics programs for younger children? There is no evidence to support the idea that children who participate in these programs are less likely to drown.

Should you sign your toddler or preschooler up for swim classes? Absolutely! It's fun, it's great exercise and it helps make them comfortable in the water. Also, many of these classes involve instruction for the adults about water safety. Just don't assume that your child is any safer near the water. Whenever infants or toddlers are in or near water, an adult should be within arm's length. That includes bathtubs. Read the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations here.

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