I am thinking about enrolling my 1-year-old daughter in an infant swimming class. Are there any problems with doing this?
Your question is very timely, as the American Academy of Pediatrics has only just recently changed its recommendation. Previously, swimming lessons haven't been recommended for children under the age of 4 based on the concern that they are not developmentally ready. While there hasn't been any conclusive evidence to suggest that earlier swim lessons help protect children from the very real dangers of drowning, experts now believe that some younger children may be developmentally ready, and there may be some benefits for toddlers (over the age of 1).
That said, I am glad you ask about potential problems as well, because there is concern amongst pediatricians and safety experts that having a toddler who can swim might give parents a false sense of security—making them less vigilante than necessary around water. Given that it only takes a second for a child to silently slip under water, this concern is a very real one that needs to be taken seriously. In addition to your interest in getting your daughter swim lessons, it's therefore well worth your time to review and follow well established methods of keeping your child safe around water. They include:
- CPR: Get yourself CPR certified
- Fences: Pools should be enclosed on all four sides by a fence with a self-latching gate
- Undivided attention: Don't allow yourself to be distracted (by cell phones, text messages, etc.) while your child is in or around the water
- Touch supervision: Commonly referred to as "touch supervision," always stay within arm's reach of your young child any time she is in or around the water
- Approved safety devices: Remember that floaties, water wings, and other air-filled swim accessories do not take the place of life jackets, as they are not designed to reliably keep children or their heads safely above water.