The Danger to Babies Around Water Can Be Reduced By Attending Swimming Lessons and Ensuring a Range of Other Strategies to Minimise Risk  

by Pool Builders on 08-21-2012 in Articles

Parents of very young babies may wonder if swimming lessons for babies are a good idea. Statistics reveal that death by drowning is the second largest cause of accidental death in children. This evidence would certainly appear to justify parental concerns. Many may wonder if teaching a child to swim would reduce the fear a child may have of being around or in water and increase the chance of a child entering the water unsupervised. Panic is the main cause of death by drowning. Helping children to remain calm when in water immediately reduces their chances of not surviving if they accidentally fall into water from any source.

Survival Reflexes We Are Born With

To understand why research is clearly showing that swimming lessons reduce, rather than increase a child's risk around water, it may help to understand the "dive reflex", a protective reflex action that all babies are born with and which remains with them until they are approximately 18 months old. When water enters a baby's mouth, the epiglottis, a small flap at the back of the throat closes over, preventing water entering the baby's lungs.

When water bubbles are blown into a baby's face, they will instinctively close their eyes and hold their breath. When a baby's head goes under water, either intentionally or in an accident, the same reaction occurs. Babies of this age do not choke or inhale water when they dive into water and learn to swim classes take advantage of this reflex through the water activities they plan for the baby to participate in. Babies become used to having their heads under water and do not panic as they otherwise would have, had they not experienced it during their lessons.

Babies are also born with another reflex known as the "swim reflex." When a baby is in water with their stomach's facing downwards, they instinctively move their arms and legs in a swimming motion. This reflex also disappears around 18 months old. Consequently, due to the loss of these reflexes in older babies, the lesson content of classes for babies under the age of 16 months, are very different from classes for babies over that age group.

Learn to Swim and Risk Minimisation.

These reflexes do not prevent a baby from drowning and they remain at risk and need constant supervision, but formal lessons teach the babies some essential life saving skills, including teaching them how to roll over onto their backs fully clothed. This increases their chance of survival until they can be rescued.

Swimming lessons for babies should be used with other risk reducing factors including constant supervision and fencing off pools, ponds and other potentially dangerous areas. These combinations have been shown to significantly reduce the risk that babies and young children are in when around water.

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