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Should My Baby Take Swimming Lessons?

As summer begins, you might receive mixed messages about introducing very young children to the pool. Our job is to educate you and your children on the medical community’s findings. We support you keeping your child safe and healthy.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against formal swimming lessons until after a child turns four years old. This is because children younger than four years of age have not yet developed the ability to voluntarily hold their breath.

Please Don’t Dunk Your Baby

For the above reason, you should not dunk your baby. Proponents of dunking argue that it triggers a reflex to hold the breath, but in reality your baby is just as likely to come up sputtering. Drowning is an obvious risk, but even swallowing or inhaling water increases the risk of infection from waterborne illnesses.

Do Babies Breathe Fluid In The Womb?

You should be extremely skeptical of claims that dunking is safe based on the fact that babies develop in amniotic fluid. While this is true, they do not breathe through their nose or mouth during their time in the womb. They take their first breath at birth, and trust us: they really prefer inhaling air after that!

Appropriate Swim Lessons for Babies and Toddlers

That said, infants and toddlers love to play in the water. It’s okay to let them. Appropriate swim lessons for infants will require parents to participate. The water temperature will be comfortable, and the instructor will teach you about pool safety while your baby practices strokes, splashes and kicks.

Read more about pool safety on our blog. No matter how old your child is, proficiency during swimming lessons cannot completely eliminate drowning risk. Factors like exhaustion, illness, rough play, dangerous running or diving, choppy water and other things swimmers can’t control affect drowning risk too. Knowing how to swim helps, but children should always be under adult supervision near water.

Posted in Blog on May 31st, 2017