Having a swimming pool or pond in the yard can be frightening for parents. Which makes sense, when you consider children under the age of four have the highest drowning rates. It is a scary thought – your child slips through a fence you think is secure or wanders off for ‘just a second.’ That fear is the reason many parents want to enroll their child in swimming lessons as early as possible.
But when should your child start swimming lessons? Are baby swim lessons a waste of money?
Let’s look at what some of the top experts in the health field have to say.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children over the age of four should be given swimming lessons. However, they also recommend children under the age of 4 take ‘water readiness’ courses trained to teach them to tread water and float. You have probably heard them called baby swimming classes, baby water classes, or something similar. These types of classes can help babies learn to feel safe in water, which can help later during swimming lessons.
According to Julie Gilchrist, with the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, when your child should start swimming lessons depends upon your family and how you spend your time. Do you own a pool? Is there a pond on your property? Does your family spend a lot of time on boats? Is your child emotionally and physically ready to learn? This suggests that choosing when to start your child in swimming lessons is more of a personal choice based upon your lifestyle.
According to the CDC’s website, participating in formal swimming lessons is the top way to reduce your child’s risk of drowning. They also reported taking part in swimming lessons does reduce the risk of drowning for children between the ages of 1 and 4. They also retracted their recommendation from several years ago stating there was no proof swimming lessons for children under the age of four help reduce drowning incidents.
Most children will not become competent swimmers until the age of 7 or 8 – and they should still be supervised when swimming or boating. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the CDC report that swimming lessons between the ages of 1 – 4 can help reduce your child’s risk of drowning, particularly if your family spends a great deal of time around water.
Do keep in mind: swimming lessons are a vital part of ensuring your child remains safe around water, however nothing makes up for adult supervision.