The statistics are alarming. Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related deaths in kids ages 1-4 and kills about 1,000 kids annually, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). That’s why you must always keep an eye on your little guppy when he’s in the water—and get him swim lessons ASAP.
The AAP recently updated its drowning prevention recommendations for kids, and evidence shows that swim lessons may reduce the risk of drowning, even for kids as young as ages 1-4. If your 1-year-old’s ready, starting early can make a difference.
“It very much varies from one child to the next, and parents should discuss with their pediatrician the appropriate age to start swim lessons with their particular child,” says Sarah Denny, MD, lead author of the AAP’s policy statement and attending physician in the division of emergency medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. “The takeaway should be that swim lessons are important for everyone in the family so they feel comfortable in the water, have water safety knowledge and basic swim skills.”
Other recommendations include not leaving kids alone or in the care of another child in or near open water, a pool or the tub; emptying water from buckets or containers once you’re done with them; getting toilet locks, and installing a four-sided fence around your pool. When baby’s in the water, an adult should always be within arm’s reach.
Even if your kid’s a solid swimmer, always watch vigilantly (that means putting your phone or book down). It doesn’t hurt to get CPR certified, either. Says Denny: “While swim lessons are one layer of prevention against drowning, they don’t ‘drown proof’ a child.”