Are infant swim classes a good thing?

Filed under: Preschoolers, Activities: Babies, Health & Safety: Babies

As a parent, a huge part of your job is to make sure your kids don't die. Given the startling prevalence of dihydrogen monoxide in the world, it would seem prudent to teach children to deal with it from a very early age. The American Academy of Pediatrics, however, would disagree. Their official recommendation is that parents delay swimming lessons until at least a child's fourth birthday.

The big problem with early lessons, it seems, is that parents may get a false sense of security when it comes to their kids and the water. "Teaching swimming that early gives parents the potential to assume their children have become drown-proof," said Dr. Marilyn Bull, a neurodevelopmental pediatrician who helped draft the academy's recommendation. "Do they really want to reduce their child's fear of water at that age? If there's one thing we've learned over time, parents tend to overestimate their own child's cognitive skills and underestimate their physical abilities."

There are, however, an awful lot of parents who have disregarded the academy's opinion. La Petite Baleen, the swim school where Jared and Sara take lessons is so busy that they are opening a third location; there are a thousand kids on their waiting list, including some of our neighbors. While I agree with the AAP that swim lessons do not make anyone -- kids, especially -- drown-proof, I do think that the lessons are important.

Jared and Sara have gone from having to have Rachel or I right with them in the pool to being able to swim around on their own and have much more of a good time. They are not at the point were they can be in the pool on their own, but I feel comfortable sitting on the side of the pool watching them rather than having to get in with them. That makes the lessons worthwhile for me; their greater enjoyment of the water makes it worthwhile for them.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.