Should Babies Take Swimming Lessons?

Filed under: Opinions

girl in swimming pool

Swimming lessons alone won't keep your child safe around water. Image:

Most of us, whether we live near the water or not, want our children to learn to swim as early as possible. Not being able to swim is a safety concern and a valid one at that. But how early is too early to start the lessons? Judging by the readers at Cafe Mom, there is no such thing too early.

"My DD is 9 months old and we started swim classes 2 weeks ago and absolutely love it...something that WE can do together. They do fun songs, put their faces under water and she does just great! I'm so glad we are doing them."

There are water programs available for babies as young as several months and many parents are signing their kids up. But despite the growing popularity of infant swim lessons, there is a persistent belief that children who take swimming lessons at a young age are actually more likely to drown than those who don't.

While that theory may sound counter intuitive, the reasoning behind it kind of makes sense: Parents and caregivers of children who have been taught to swim might be less vigilant about keeping an eye on their children because they feel they are safer around the water.

But according to a new study by the National Institutes of Health, statistics prove that theory wrong. Researchers found that children ages 1 to 4 who have had swimming lessons are at no greater risk of drowning than those who haven't. "From our calculations, we are confident that swimming lessons do not increase drowning risk in this age group and likely have a protective effect," says the study's first author, Dr. Ruth A. Brenner.

But regardless of age, knowing how to swim is not enough to ensure your child's safety around water. In addition to swimming lessons, a comprehensive drowning-prevention strategy should include pool fencing, adult supervision, and training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

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