06 Jan WHY GIVE BABY SWIM LESSONS?
The most important reason to consider baby swimming lessons is safety. According to the CDC, there are some 3,536 drowning-related deaths annually, about one in five of which are children 14 and younger. So, while a one-year-old may not be able to swim laps, they can learn the skills they need to get to safety in the event that they fall in a pool, for example.
Anthony, CEO of Swimpro, says that too often parents take the “it couldn’t happen to me” mentality when it comes to drowning. “Parents say, ‘this tragedy could never happen to me because I’m very, very diligent,’ but sadly the people who have lost children are diligent.” Anthony sees baby swimming lessons as a safety imperative. “It should not be a choice. It should be an absolute necessity. I put it on the same lines as wearing a seatbelt,” he says.
The other benefit of baby swimming lessons is simply getting your child comfortable in the water so they see it as a fun and welcoming environment, which can make her more amenable to more complex learning down the road.
WHEN TO START BABY SWIMMING LESSONS
Anthony says starting infant swim lessons when baby is around 6 months old is optimal. he’s found that around 8 months of age babies begin to develop a concept of fear, so if they’re already familiar with being in the water by then, all the better. If you’ve missed that mark, though, don’t fret. “We teach teenagers and adults, so no time is too late,” he says.
At 6 months babies probably won’t learn to swim, per se, but they will gain preliminary skills and comfort with the water to set them up for success later on. “Infants who participate in parent and child aquatics gain foundational knowledge and motor skills that can help them succeed in future swimming lessons, and can help them stay safer in and around the water,” explains Nichole Steffens, aquatic product manager for the American Red Cross. “Just like many infants learn to crawl before they learn to walk, in the pool, infants learn to kick and paddle before learning how to swim.”
With consistent lessons, even a very young child can learn to grab onto the edge of a pool or roll onto his back to float. Even if it buys him a few minutes, that can be the difference between drowning and an adult coming to the rescue.