Swim Safety

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In the heat of the summer, swimming is frequently the outdoor activity of choice. So: when is a child old enough for lessons and how can you reduce the risk of water accidents.

There is no clear consensus on how old a child should be for formal swim lessons. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no formal lessons before 4 years old, although swim time with parent holding baby as young as a year is OK. Center for Disease Control concurs, but the YMCA National recommends formal lessons as young as 3 years old. There are many swimming lesson companies that offer “baby safety swim lessons” for children as young as 6 months; the AAP and the Red Cross have no comment on this, other than to say there hasn’t been enough research to show if this is helpful or not. Although infants have a natural reflex that causes them to hold their breath when under water, they aren’t born knowing how to swim.

So, ask yourself:

Is your child emotionally and physically ready? Are they interested in swimming and do they enjoy the water? Is your family frequently near water? Are there any allergy concerns of chlorine for your child?

Keep in mind the CDC recommendations:

Always supervise your child in water, even if they’ve had lessons. Teach the buddy system. Supervisors shouldn’t drink alcohol. And don’t ever throw your child in the water. Wait for them to be ready on their own. Here is a really thorough fact sheet from the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Water-Safety/waterinjuries-factsheet.html#prevented