Nothing beats a cool pool on a hot summer’s day! Most toddlers love splashing and playing with toys in pools, lakes, or other swimming areas. But swimming – whether in the arms of a caregiver, kicking while wearing a life jacket, or even early swimming lessons – provides unique benefits for little ones.
Benefits of Swimming Include:
Health and fitness: Swimming is an incredible physical activity for children! The water gives natural resistance, which works and strengthens the big muscles in the arms, legs and core. The American Heart Association recommends at least 60 minutes of moderate exercise every day starting at age 2, and swimming is a fun way for little ones to get that important exercise time.
Balance and coordination: Water is a unique place for balance development, because little ones’ body positions are ever-changing – and in ways they simply don’t experience in out-of-water play! Swimming also involves body awareness, cross-body movements, and memorizing how to use the body to get from here to there in water.
Confidence and independence: It’s common for children to begin their swimming journey with trepidation (especially when formal swimming lessons are involved). But as they begin to understand the concepts of floating and moving in the water, they feel more comfortable exploring it. Over time, learning how to swim feels like a big accomplishment for little ones.
Safety skills: This is a big one! No parent or caregiver wants to think about the potential dangers of water, but it’s essential to keep little ones safe around it. In fact, many formal swim programs for toddlers start by teaching toddlers what to do if they fall into water.
Swimming Safety Tips
We hope we’ve convinced you that swimming is an excellent activity for your little one! But as we mentioned above, water can be dangerous. In fact, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children ages 1-4. Yikes, we know. Here’s what you can do to keep your child safe when swimming:
Swimming lessons: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) notes that children as young as age 1 can start swimming lessons, which can lower drowning risk.
Supervise: Always supervise children around bodies of water, even if they are simply wading in shallow water.
Fence pools: Pools should have a safety fence installed around them, with a toddler-proof locked gate. Ensure that the area is closed and locked at all times when you’re not using it.
Use life jackets instead of floatation devices: A life jacket is a safer choice for non-swimmers. Check the size chart of the life jacket to ensure your toddler meets the size and weight requirements.
Have your cell phone on hand: In case of an emergency, your cell phone allows you to reach help as quickly as possible.
Inspect pools: Before each use, you should complete an inspection to make sure there aren’t any missing drain covers, which can create an unsafe suction for small toddlers. Also, look for any slippery spots or sharp objects in and around the pool.
Learn infant and child CPR: Knowing what do in the case of water emergencies can save a life! You can learn infant and child CPR from home here.
With you as their guide, your toddler can play safely in the pool and take advantage of its many developmental benefits.