So you have a new baby. You have prepared your home, made it safe, and seen to all your child’s needs as it grows and develops as any responsible parent would do.
You have looked at installing baby gates, researched car seats, and set up the nursery.Read More »
The step? Let your baby learn to swim.
Ideally you should do so before the age of one—before your baby has that first bathtub experience. You can even start swimming lessons when your baby is only four months old.
By doing so you not only will sharply reduce the risk of your child drowning, you also will improve your child’s developmental progress in socialization skills, learning tasks, and bonding with parents.
Swim lessons are a significant yet seldom mentioned baby shower gift, says Chris McCuiston, CEO of Goldfish Swim School based in Troy, Michigan which operates more than 133 swim schools in the United States and Canada. Goldfish recommends including swimming lessons in all baby registries in order to help parents cross an important item off their baby’s safety checklist, McCuiston says. Doing so will relieve parents’ stress knowing their baby will gain the significant benefits of becoming accustomed to the water at an early age, he adds. At the same time the child will learn life-saving skills that will last a lifetime.
Leading cause of accidental death
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that if babies begin learning to swim before the age of one their risk of drowning will be reduced by as much as 88%.
Drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death for children aged 1 to 4. So much so that it causes three children a day to lose their lives across the United States.
Most drownings take place in the bathtub
Most child drownings take place in the bathtub in the baby’s home. More than half of those bathtub deaths involve children who are younger than a year old.
Babies can drown in as little as one or two inches of water, explains Dr.Molly O’Shea of Birmingham Pediatrics + Wellness Center. O’Shea is a pediatrician at Goldfish Swim School.
Be aware of the dangers
Even should you not be ready to have your child learn to swim yet, it is important that you be aware of the dangers than can lurk in the bathtub in your own home. That awareness, however, should not hold you back from introducing your baby to water early.
Babies can be in water as early as when they are only a couple of months old, says O’Shea. It takes a few months for a baby’s body temperature to adapt to water, but warm water (temperature 90 to 95 degrees) is acceptable at any age.
Indeed, warm water feels natural to a baby and is comforting, she explains. It can not only be relaxing, but it also can help to boost motor development and movement.
Other benefits of introducing a baby to water early are the development of certain skills:
• Developmental skills
Babies who use their bodies in a variety of ways, such as swimming, progress in their development in all areas. These activities appear to create pathways in their central nervous systems that improve their ability to learn.
As they grow, swimming skills can boost a child’s confidence of being safe in water. As they learn, they show trust in their instructor. They also learn to follow instructions as part of a group.
When the parent and baby are undertaking something new together, it draws them close and can help to make a relationship more solid.
Bathtub safety tips
O’Shea recommends that you follow these top safety tips when you prepare your baby to take that first bath.
• Ensure the tub is safety proof.
Place a soft protector over the tub’s spout. Place a non-skid mat on the tub’s bottom to prevent falls and slips—an action that is good for older children as well as adults and the elderly, too.
• Realize that baby seats can be injury risks.
Many baby seats can tip over easily, thereby raising the risk that your baby will drown. It is better to let your baby sit in the bathtub than in a baby seat.
• Always avoid leaving a child in the water alone—not even for a moment.
Keep your eyes on the baby throughout bath time. Ensure that the child is within arm’s reach.
Keep away from distractions such as checking your email messages, cell phones, or checking on food for dinner. Everything can wait.
If you do find that you need to step away from the bathtub and you are alone, take the baby with you.
• Have fun in the water.
If your baby is happy in the water allow extra time for splashing and playing. The more fun they have when in the bath, the less likely a child is to be afraid of the water.
• Adjust the water heater.
Turn down the temperature on the water heater to make sure that the bath water will not cause burns or scald the child.