AAP Recommends Children Take Swim Lessons As Early As Age 1

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baby swimming

Image: iStock / NataliaDeriabina

Summer is here, and with it comes the added stress of watching our kids like hawks around bodies of water. You know the drill, right? Anytime our kids are in or around a pool or a lake or the ocean, our eyes pretty much never leave them. And our kids can swim! But water safety is something no parent should ever take for granted. It can go from fun to tragic in the blink of an eye. That’s why it’s so important for kids to know water safety basics from a young age. The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees, too. The AAP has just released its newest water safety guidelines, and they’ve made a very important change. For the first time, the AAP is recommending kids take swim lessons as early as age 1. It’s never too early for kids to learn how to stay safe in and around water.

Swim lessons are vital for preventing drowning accidents.

Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related deaths in children between the ages of 1 and 4. It’s also the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related death in ages 5-19. Parents often get a false sense of security from other safety measures like water wings, floaties, or even pool gates or covers. But nothing can replace the skills children develop after taking swim lessons. Which is why the AAP has drastically lowered the recommended age for when you should start your kids in water safety and swim lessons.

The new AAP recommendations say that kids should start taking swim lessons as young as 1 year old, to help decrease the risk of drowning and other water-related injuries. Linda Quan, who co-authored the policy statement, says that research has shown kids can benefit from formal lessons, even at such a young age. In fact, formal lessons can reduce the risk of a child drowning by up to 88%, according to the USA Swimming Foundation.

Your toddler isn’t going to be learning competitive strokes at that age. But they can learn some truly valuable water safety skills from swim lessons.

At this age, swim lessons will teach kids how to blow bubbles in the water, kick, and eventually roll over onto their backs. That may not sound like much, but those skills are the basis for learning how to swim, and they can make your child safer in the water. Some facilities even start lessons for babies as young as 4-6 months old, or as soon as they can hold their heads up. Check instructors and facilities in your area to see what kinds of lessons they offer for babies and toddlers. Personally, our kids really benefited from private, one-on-one instruction, but group lessons can also be super helpful!

It may seem silly to put your baby or young toddler in swim lessons. But the peace of mind you’ll get from knowing you’re laying the foundation for a lifetime of water safety awareness is priceless.