Infants, Children, Children are naturally drawn to water and let’s face it, most of us have pools or hot tubs, live near lakes, rivers, or streams, and often vacation near the ocean. While you don’t necessarily want to know this fact – but perhaps you should: Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children 5 and under. Teaching children how to be safe around water is not a luxury; it is a necessity. You may want to wait until your baby can hold up her head on her own (usually by 4 or 5 months) before taking her swimming in a pool or lake. It is a good idea to take an infant/child CPR class. First things First: Teaching your child to feel comfortable in the water is important if you have a pool or are near any body of water. Early on, you want to introduce your child to the water – play in the pool together, join a MommyBaby class, hold your child as you bob around, splash, sing songs, and play gentle games together that make your child feel safe. Keep your baby in your arms at all times. Remember you’re still bonding with your infant and trust is key. You want a teacher whose skills are positive and not forceful (no distress for the child). Feeling comfortable leads to confidence and ultimately competence in the water. Floating: Once your child feels comfortable in the water, an instructor can teach a 6-12 month old to hold their breath in the water. In addition, your instructor will teach your child to roll from a face-down position to a face-up back float position, while staying relaxed – and until an adult can come to their rescue. Further training (1 to 6 years) can teach your child to flip on to their tummy to continue swimming to the steps, ladder, or parent. Your child will also master the ability to turn over on their back to breathe, then turn over again to continue their swim to safety. All of this will be taught in swim gear and finally, in their clothing.
Safety Tips and Rules: • Have an adult watch all water activities - always; • Make it a rule that your child must ask and have permission before entering the water area – any body of water; • Life jackets should be worn by children who cannot swim; • Enforce the no horseplay rules – no running on the pool deck or swimming area; • Always jump in feet first; • No diving unless an adult is present and watching and the water is deep; • If hosting a pool party, think about hiring a lifeguard whose only job is to watch the pool and those who enter the pool; • Don’t leave toys in or around the pool – an inquisitive child may want to reach that toy when you’re not looking; • Pools must be fully fenced and enclosed; • Make sure the drain in your pool or hot tub has an antientrapment cover or other drain safety system; • Have swim buddies; • No dunking – ever… • Bring your cell phone with you to the pool – don’t be on it – it’s for emergencies; • Be extra vigilant at the beach or a lake – a child’s swimming skills in a pool don’t necessarily translate to open water; • Always make your child wear a life jacket when boating or waterskiing – even if he can swim – everyone should wear life jackets; • Instruct babysitters about potential pool hazards – constant supervision is key; • If a child goes missing – check the pool first – time is most important – check the entire pool – bottom, surface, and surrounding area; • Keep rescue equipment by the pool. There’s simply no substitute for adult supervision when it comes to pool and water safety. But, teaching water safety early makes sure your child is familiar with the basics of safety, floating, and swimming. It’s true that even children who aren’t talking yet are able to understand a lot more than they can say. So having your child float and swim allows you and your child to be empowered – safety and survival.
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