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May 24th, 2010
08:54 AM ET

Most kids under 4 should learn to swim, pediatricians say

By Sabriya Rice
CNN Medical Producer

Parents should consider swimming lessons for most children between ages 1 and 4, the American Academy of Pediatrics urges  in new guidelines on drowning prevention and water safety. The guidance is a change from previous recommendations.

“In light of new research that has revealed that swim instruction for children 1 to 4 years of age may decrease drowning, it is reasonable for the AAP to relax its policy regarding the age at which children should start learning water-survival skills,” the authors say in the report.

Previously, the AAP discouraged swimming lessons for this age group, noting a lack of evidence on whether these children were developmentally ready. The new guidelines, however, do not extend to all children under 4. The AAP still does not recommend swimming lessons before age 1, and says children with motor or cognitive disabilities may not be not be ready for swimming lessons until a later age.

Drowning is the second-leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 19, according to the AAP report. New data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissions finds children between the ages of 1 and 2 represent 47 percent of submersion injuries and 53 percent of fatalities for children younger than 15. In light of those statistics, the CPSC launched Poolsafety.gov as as an educational resource for parents, providing pool safety videos and links to resources on drowning prevention.

“Children need to learn to swim,” say the authors of the Pediatrics report. But they also warn parents not to equate swimming lessons with “drown proofing.” They recommend a multilayered safety approach because, as they note, even children with advanced swimming skills can still drown. Beside swimming lessons, here are three additional things parents can do:

Fence in your pool: Many parents do not consider putting fencing around large inflatable pools,the AAP says,  and because these pools are considered to be portable, they fall outside of many state regulations. The AAP recommends parents install a four-sided fence that is at least 4 feet high if you have any kind of pool in your back yard. The American Red Cross also offers a home pool maintenance class online to help you ensure your pool is set up properly. The two-hour class costs $19.95 and you receive a manual to keep at your home.

Learn CPR: According to the NIH, “all parents and those who take care of children should learn infant and child CPR if they haven't already.” But note that CPR recommendations vary by age group. You can find a CPR training class near you through the American Heart Association, and the National Institutes of Health has guidelines for performing CPR on children between the ages of 1 and 8.

Purchase the proper gear: The AAP warns against using inflatable swimming aids because they can easily lose air and they “are not designed to keep swimmers safe.” On the academy's  website, parents can view a list of the types of personal flotation devices approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. MuddyBuddy

    Everyone should learn to swim, it should be as basic a part of all educational programs as learning to cross the street, of stranger danger. Its a basic survival skill, as a bonus it gives the kids another outlet for physical activity which is so severely lacking. Its amazing since a large percentage of those that drown could be saved by learning how to swim and survival float that this is not part of most school programs from Kindergarten onwards.

    May 24, 2010 at 09:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Konrad Marek

    Hi,
    I'm not sure if I could teach a 4-year-old, to swim safely. But I know, that it is dangerous to chat with a friend, while watching a child or toddler, who is playing in water.

    May 24, 2010 at 10:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Marti

      My son had just turned 2 when he took lessons. Within 6 weeks, he was jumping off the side of the pool and swimming underwater to retrieve rings at the bottom of the shallow end. At age 2-1/2, he was still not coordinated enough to actually swim, using arms and legs, but they don't teach that to a two-year old. He was taught to turn over on the back and float, and by kicking his feet, he could reach the edge of the pool, where he could then guide himself to the steps. It by no means is a safeguard against drowning, and you still MUST watch your kids at all times. But it was simply a little added assurance that he knew what to do if he fell into a pool. Also, by teaching them to swim, you eliminate the panic that might come with accidentally falling in. And they have SO much more fun in the pool! By age 4, my kids were swimming and jumping off the board.

      July 6, 2010 at 13:26 | Report abuse |
  3. Nan

    I can't agree more. I was a water junkie at an early age and credit my parents strong interest in swimming and having swimming lessons at an early age as one of the best things I ever did. Every time I hear of children or young adults dying from drowning, I wonder how they might have been saved if they had learned respect for the water, how to float and how to swim.

    May 24, 2010 at 11:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Rafael

    I saw this story on the today show this morning...Absolutely amazing what these little ones can do! I am enrolling my 8 month old and 2 year old with Infant Swimming Resource. The today show did the special on them etc http://www.infantswim.com survival swimming lessons sound like a good thing!

    May 24, 2010 at 11:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Louise

    My 2 year old twins recently went through the Infant Swimming Resource program, and I cannot say enough good things about it! Both can do the swim-float-swim sequence perfectly and now love being in the water. Our instructor was fantastic, and I am so glad that we enrolled our children in these survival swimming lessons, especially with the summer coming up!

    May 24, 2010 at 12:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. kweber

    Hree's another safety tip: WATCH YOUR CHILD. Don't rely on the lifeguards or water wings solely. If I had a nickel for all the times I have seen children running around the pools and lakes without a responsible parent/adult nearby, I would be a millionaire

    May 24, 2010 at 12:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. SBZ

    If you live in area like Florida where a lot of houses have pools and most neighborhoods have multiple retention ponds it only makes sense to have your kids swimming as early as possible. Does this mean you should watch them less vigilantly and reduce safety precautions, of course not, but at least they have a chance if something were to happen. I doubt there is a parent in the world who has not lost track of their toddler for a few minutes and it only takes a few seconds for something bad to happen.

    May 24, 2010 at 12:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Mom

    Blair,

    Interesting new guidelines for babies and toddlers related to swimming.

    Mom

    May 24, 2010 at 12:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. amy davis

    I strongly agree with the need for survival swim lessons for children under the age of 4. I lost my son at 26 months to an accidental drowning in a neighbor's pool with my husband and I right there. It only takes a second for a child to sink. The Infant Swimming Resource has the only proven method to teach infants and small children to save themselves should they find themselves in water unsupervised. I can't urge parents enough to enroll their children in ISR!! It can and will save your child's life! I wish I had known about it b/c my son would be alive today had he gone through the program. Please do a segement on ISR, especially with summer approaching rapidly, parents need to know how to protect their children.

    May 24, 2010 at 12:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Johnny Johnson

    This is welcome news and hopefully will encourage many families to begin lessons for their young children. This is the message that has long been promoted by members of the US Swim School Association and and at my swim school where I have been teaching infants and toddlers for 44 years. It is important for parents to understand that learning to swim is a process and not an event or something that is learned in a few short lessons. Infants and toddlers require an on-going progression wherein a foundation of breath control, balance control and movement development can be continually reinforced in a nuturing and positively conducted format. 90% of brain development takes place in the first three years of life and this is a tremendous opportunity to positively impact a child's development as well as develop valuable water safety skills. The sensory integration process that is taking place during this period is constanly evolving which is why it is so important that the lessons be continuous over a period of years. There is always risk associated with being in, on or around the water however, by introducing a child to an appropriate learn to swim program parents may significantly reduce (but never eliminate) that risk.

    Johnny Johnson
    President Blue Buoy Swim School
    Immediate Past President National Drowning Prevention Alliance
    Past President U.S. Swim School Association
    President Swim For Life Foundation Inc.

    May 24, 2010 at 12:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Jamal Brown

    My 4 and 6 year old already know how to swim. I don't fear that they would drown by accidently falling into the water, but parents need to be responsible and watch their kids. I think this is refreshing news that the AAP has recommended. Swimming lessons are cheap. you can even take your kid to your local Y and teach them yourselves.

    May 24, 2010 at 12:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Michael

    My daughter started swimming lessons at age three largely becasue her older brother swims competatively. Now at age 4 she can freestyle and backstroke swim more than one length of the pool, and is learning to breast stroke. It may depend on the child, but for our daughter, four is NOT too young to learn.

    May 24, 2010 at 12:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Mark

    Dr. Harvey Barnett, founder of Infant Swimming Resource, taught my oldest son at 22 months and my youngest at 26 months infant survival with regards to falling in or being in the water. Under the age of 4 it is more aquatic survival. What you learn is what is not in all of those drowning statistics are the children that suffer "near-drowning" experiences and then die shortly later due to complications. Living in Florida, it is a shame it is not part of some type of school program with so many pools in the state.

    May 24, 2010 at 13:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. MarTar Swimming

    I have been teaching children 4 months to adults for 20yrs. There is tons of research and statistics to show that if children can learn to swim early, the drowing rate is decreased. It is also a great idea for the parents to learn to swim. It is also imperative that children with Special Needs learn how to swim, and yes they can swim properly too!! Please consider the level of qualifications of the instrcutor before you start lessons.

    May 24, 2010 at 13:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. ace

    Both of my kids took preschool swimming lessons. My oldest at 10 is pool safe...no supervision required in a pool with lifeguards. My youngest is 3 and YMCA preschool swimming lessons are a blessing. He got a way from me at a waterpark for about 15 minutes (staff were informed and looking....he was right there and gone sort of thing) He went to a baby pool to swim and knew he could not go in without a grownup (where the swimming safety portion of the lesson came in). In his lessons he has the mechanics of the arms and legs he just needs to go without someone holding on. It is fun for them and helps them learn a valuable skill.

    May 24, 2010 at 13:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Wendy, Enid, OK

    All four of my children learned to swim before they were 18 months. They swam well and could reach the side of the pool and pull themselves out. However, one miscommunication with my oldest son nearly cost his life. He was 2 and a good swimmer. My mom was watching him and told me she was putting him out by the pool and for me to watch him. I had dozed off and didn't hear her. I awoke and discovered him floating over the drain of the pool. Apparently, the pool water had evaporated and the level of the water was low. He couldn't reach the side. Always use every precaution around water, whether or not your child can swim.

    May 24, 2010 at 13:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. A. Goodwin

    I think lessons are GREAT – but not for all kids and parents can do the teaching themselves. My son took swimming lessons for two summers and in the end what was accomplished with two years of swimming: he could dunk his head under the water. Big deal!!! That will NOT save his life.

    I just started to teach him myself, and we are 100% further than we were spending $$ on two summer's of swim lessons (btw – my son is 6 years old). Some kids just learn better with their parents! HTH.

    May 24, 2010 at 13:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Don

    Pools are more dangerous to children than guns. I am teaching my 9 month old year old to swim this summer. I am a certified scuba diver, former lifeguard, certified in CPR and AR. I swim everyday and I want my son to feel comfortable in the water.

    May 24, 2010 at 13:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Staci

    My daughter is a WSI (Water Safety Instructor) at an Aquatics fitness center and there are so many parents that enroll their children in classes to learn the fundamentals of water safety and to learn how to swim. She holds her certification with the American Red Cross, which they do a wonderful job in teaching the instructors 'true' water safety. I believe it is a wonderful idea to teach your children to swim while they are young. You don't however want to force them to learn how to swim; this could cause the child to become afraid of water.

    May 24, 2010 at 13:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Ava

    I am happy to see AAP revised their guidelines, which really did not make sense for those who live in "water" states like Florida. Our daughter has been taking swimming lessons since she was able to crawl. She is now a four year old that swims better than I do. We have a net on our pool when it is not in use, and she is always supervised, but we also felt it was important to give HER the skills necessary to save herself if the need ever arose. As far as children with special needs, one of the girls in her class has Downs and swims just as well as the rest of them. It breaks my heart when I hear of another child drowning accidentally in a backyard pool simply because he/she did not know how to swim.

    May 24, 2010 at 13:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Dan

    I grew up in a pool. Was in my first swim meet at 6 yrs old and competed thru college at a major university. Taught lessons to babies ( and up thru adults) with the mother in attendance holding and playing with the baby in the water. Simple exercises were done. Holding the baby on his or her back or pulling them thru the water just to learn not to be afraid and have fun. I also found that fear of water is often transferred from the parent. The baby has no innate fear and loves to be there. All I can say is take your child to swimming lessons if you can. It will be a great bonding experience and something you will remember!

    May 24, 2010 at 13:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Paul Blair

    We bought a house with a pool last year, and even though it was completely gated with a lock I made it a priority to teach both of my boys to swim as soon as possible. The oldest one learned first, and had just turned five at the time and the youngest learned about a month later and was not even four yet.

    May 24, 2010 at 14:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Ed Q.

    teaching kids how to swim is the best idea ever...this past weekend was one of my nephew's pool b-day party. my 2 girs 10 and 7 rescued their 7yr old cousin from drowning b/c tehy've been swimmming since 2 yrs old...their cousin thought he was a good swimmer..the pool was only 5 feet deep...

    May 24, 2010 at 14:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Maria

    I have been a YMCA camp counselor for preschoolers for almost 11 years - the program used to be for 2.9 yr olds – 6 yr olds, but is now 3-5. Swimming has always been a main activity during the day and even the really young ones are completely capable of learning to swim and about water safety, even if it's just floating or very basic stroke work. Every year we have kids who are terrified of the water and by the end of the summer they are so proud of themselves for being able to get their faces wet and paddle around without much aid from a counselor (we do use approved flotation devices, though, for obvious reasons).

    Learning to swim is so important - it builds confidence, it's great exercise (especially as one ages since it's easy on the joints), it's so refreshing during the summer, and it's a life skill that can be invaluable should the worst happen. I swam competitively in middle school and high school and was called a fish by my parents when I was a toddler because I loved the water so much. I'm not saying everyone should know how to swim a perfect front crawl or be an expert in the butterfly (we have Michael Phelps for that), but they should know - at the very least - how to float, tread water, and swim well enough to reach safety.

    The longer you wait to teach your kids to swim, the more likely they'll be insecure around water in general - old habits are much harder to break.

    May 24, 2010 at 14:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Lisa

    Let's clear something up right now. This article is NOT discussing survival swim lessons – just basic gentle swim lessons. Survival swim lessons were discarded by American Red Cross and YMCA years ago and are not endorsed by the AAP. Those types of lessons are not sound educational practice. These programs use the twin negatives: fear and guilt, to the parents of the students. Telling the parents that allowing this abuse to continue to their child, builds character in the parent as well as in the child. This could not be further from the truth.

    May 24, 2010 at 14:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Dan

    Our little one is slowly learning to swim at seven months and doing a fantastic job. She has gone from being unsure about water, to happily frolicking in it with no fear and having a great time. I cannot overstate the importance of exposing them early to this experience (before they have developed a natural and intrinsic, cautious fear for things unknown (~ 6-10 months.) I also KNOW that I will NEVER have our little one out of our sight, no matter how well she learns to swim. Both approaches go hand in had, and both significantly reduce the chances of an accident or harm. Don't listen to statistics, just make up your mind that your little ones will be a.) Always in your care and sight. b.) Given the tools and knowledge they need to take care of themselves in any unforseen difficult circumstances. In my opinion, the confidence alone it has breed in our child is worth the effort.

    May 24, 2010 at 14:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Tricia

    Congratulations to the American Academy of Pediatrics for changing it's policy regarding the age for swim lessons. I enrolled my 2 boys in Infant Swim Resource at 18 months old and it is one of the best things we have ever done. The survival/swim training is amazing and has proven itself! I was swimming with both of them, now 4 and 2 when my 2 year old slipped and went under silently. I was right there, but waited to see what he would do. He instantly floated on his back, took a breath and then flipped over to grab the side of the pool. He did not panic and was proud and happy when he resumed playing. This proved to me that these small children can do it! Be safe!!

    May 24, 2010 at 14:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Tammy

    We knew were going to buy a house with a pool so I started my son in lessons at 10 months. We bought the house when he was 18 months old and I absolutely insisted that a Katch-a-Kid net be installed before I would bring a single box into that house. The owners of the house were nice enough to let me start the drilling and installation of the net before we closed. My son is 6 now and can swim circles around kids twice his age, but you better believe I still put that net on when we're not using the pool.

    May 24, 2010 at 14:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. B.E.CPR

    Teaching kids how to swim and keep pool safety is very important as well as CPR education.
    Checkout CPR classes near you at http://www.becpr.org

    May 24, 2010 at 14:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Tammy

    There are swim schools all across the country that teach children from infants through adults! We personally own 4 in the Houston area and currently teach about 10,000 students a week between the four! Personally, my 24 month old was dropped in our pool, fully clothed on Friday and rolled over and floated, completely unassisted! I see it everyday! While I would never leave my child unsupervised around water, I have every confidence that she would be able to save herself if she fell into a pool uninjured. Watch the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXX4hfL9QdI. Or search you tube for Houston Swim Club float test. Look for swim schools in your area at http://www.usswimschools.org

    May 24, 2010 at 14:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Cristina

    I enrolled my son with Infant Swimming Resource when he was just starting to crawl, at seven months. At that time he was taught the rollover to float rescue method. Later at 19 months I registered him for ISR's swim float swim sequence. I was impressed at how he responded when introduced to the water by the instructor. After so many months he had not forgotten the survival skills taught to him when he was 7 months. Not longer after he had completed the swim float swim lessons, he fell in our pool at home. My husband was standing inches from our son when he took a not so stable step (as toddlers tend to do) and fell in. Before my husband could react our son had already rolled over and was floating on his back. When he saw his dad at the edge of the pool reaching in for him, he rolled back over and swam to my husbands hands. We continue to take our son to refresher courses and are amazed each time!!

    May 24, 2010 at 14:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. BRB San Deigo

    It is great to see so many enlighteded parents teaching their kids to swim very early. This is not only a safety issue, it is a confidence, coordination, and independence issue. My kids are 25 and 28 years old and they both learned to swim before they were one year old. It was a kick their legs and lift their head to breath stroke, but they were able to cross the pool and/or get to the side where they could hang on. Best time and money I ever spent. Bless Murray Callan's Swim School in Pacific Beach, California.

    May 24, 2010 at 15:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Rebecca Wear Robinson

    As parent of two young kids who have been in the water since infancy, and as proponent of water safety and drowning prevention, I applaud the AAP for making their statement comprehensive. In addition to encouraging swimming lessons for children ages 1-4 they also encourage layers of protection.

    Teach children water safety and how to swim.
    Watch them when they are in the water.
    Protect. Learn CPR because accidents do happen.

    May 24, 2010 at 15:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Karen

    I am thrilled to see that the AAP has finally lifted its advisory against swimming lessons for children between the ages of 1 and 4 years. My son first started swimming lessons with Infant Swimming Resource when he was 8 months old. Though he is always supervised around the water, and we have a four-sided fence around our pool, should the unthinkable happen, I am confident that he can use his survival swimming skills should he find himself in the water alone. These classes were, and continue to be, a blessing to my husband and I, and though my son did not enjoy the classes at first, his instructor was kind and gentle with him, and soon had him laughing and enjoying the water. 3 years later, we still love going back for refresher lessons with ISR!

    May 24, 2010 at 15:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. moe smith

    i take my 6 month old to the YMCA T Th and Sat for swim lessons. she loves the water and has a great time. i just "throw her in" and she has at it. she's a natural.

    May 24, 2010 at 15:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Leo

    My mom started bringing me into the pool and teaching me how to swim when I was less than a year old. If you grow up in the water, you become comfortable with the water. By age three, I could swim the length of the pool easily. When I was four, I was seen by a swim coach when doing freestyle lengths of the pool, and at the age of five, I competed in my first regional swim championships. At age six, I swam my first mile, nonstop.

    And there's nothing "special" about me that other kids can't do, barring physical disability.

    May 24, 2010 at 15:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Brooks

    It is abuse to have children at the bottom of a pool when they are able to learn how to save themselves.
    Three of my children participated in the Infant Swimming Resource program and are far more well adjusted, self confident, better swimmers and have positive attitudes about life than the vast majority of their peers. Yes, my children fussed but do you not put them in a car seat if they protest? Do you stop brushing their teeth if they fuss? Do you not inoculate them if they object?
    "Basic gentle swimming lessons" teach children that the water is a warm fuzzy place to play, do not give them skills and take an inordinate amount of time. That is like giving a 16 year old male a crotch rocket and a six pack of beer.......something bad IS going to happen!.

    May 24, 2010 at 16:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. soft

    My daughter learned how to swim at age 3, but she was a total water baby before that. Babies love to swim.

    May 24, 2010 at 16:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Lee

    ISR swim lessons.... Would you light your preschooler on fire to make sure they know the stop, drop and roll move?? NO!!!

    May 24, 2010 at 18:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Susana Airala

    My daughter learned survival swimming with ISR shortly after her second birthday. No one should doubt that it is possible for an infant to learn this valuable life saving technique. The ISR instructor taught her to alternate floating on her back to rest, with flipping over and makeing her way to the edge of the pool. I just can't say enough about this program. Kids are taught to open their eyes under water and look for the edge of the pool. In 6 weeks, my daughter could float fully clothed in the pool and make her way to safety. By her third birthday, she was already snorkeling in the Bahamas. Although a parent should never leave their child unattended around any body of water, it is also important to give your child the tools needed to SURVIVE. It absolutely works.

    May 24, 2010 at 20:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Mother of 2

    I would love to teach my children how to swim but who can afford the 700 dollars per child. People think that if you have a house with a pool that you are wealthy. I'll just have to keep searching for trainers.

    May 24, 2010 at 21:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Beckie Chapman

    I started my daughter in water babies classes at the YMCA when she was 5 months old in 1977. By the time she was 3 she could swim like a fish in the deep end. These classes were very positive and I think my daughter benefited from them. I nearly drowned twice as a child before I learned to swim in junior high school.

    May 25, 2010 at 00:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Larry Barnes

    My granddaughter, who lives on St. Thomas, had a swimming coach when she was six-months old. When you live on an island, you better know how to swim.

    May 25, 2010 at 02:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Jen

    Yes, swimming is an important skill. Keep in mind, though, that chlorine byproducts have been linked to the development of asthma in children. Parents need to choose carefully the place where their children learn to swim. Lakes or pools with advanced filtration systems are safest in preventing this exposure.

    May 25, 2010 at 07:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. MommyBBB

    I love what MuddyBuddy has said. Personally, because I have been fortunate enough to have a pool at my disposal each summer, I stick my kids in the pool with me, with minimal floaties so that they can learn how to move around in the pool by themselves. My almost 13 month old (who cant walk yet) floats with arm bands right next to me and shes learning how to close her mouth and not swallow water when a kid splashes her or makes a wave next to her. Its easiest to start when theyre little. She is learning how to put her head back, put her legs up, and float on her back. The next lesson I will go over with her is how to hang onto the side of the pool or how to find the stairs in the pool. Lots of positive reinforcement. Instead of snatching them out of the water when they get water in their mouths, you just hold them up so that they can breathe obviously, and pat them on the back and say 'good baby' and smile and they forget about being splashed in the face. My eldest daughter was floaty free by 2 years just from continual exposure to the pool, no tormenting (I hate the parents who shout at their kids who are scared), lots of praise etc. We sit on the bottom of the pool now and look for mermaids and wave to each other. I am sending her for professional lessons this summer to learn the proper strokes. Go to any resort and you see kids wearing arm bands, a tube, sitting on an airbed. No wonder they cant swim, they cant reach the water. It just takes dedication, go three times a week, make it your special time together, and you will have safe kids. Im also busy, I make 60% of the income in our family, I cook dinner every night, and I have a 2 hour commute. But you have such a small window to use with kids before they become fearful. I was laughing at the APA guidelines. Swimming is such a natural wonderful and pleasurable experience. Most kids take to it like a duck to water if their parents enjoy swimming. But I have inner city friends, people with masters degrees, who never learnt to swim as kids, so they are apprehensive and it carries on to their kids. Be safe, lather up in sunscreen, and enjoy splashing with your kids 🙂

    May 25, 2010 at 07:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Jeff Bacigalupi

    One simple answer. ISR. Infant Swim. Unreal. Take a second, go to the web page, and watch. My wife is a master instructor and I see them first hand daily in my backyard. Worth every penny. Absolutely amazing. Can't even imagine the numbers of lives saved by this program. It turns my stomach to read any stories of drowning. I'm sure there are many programs and lessons out there that are equally helpful, but if this is in your area, don't think twice. Best decision you will ever make.

    May 25, 2010 at 10:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Kath

    I have been a lifeguard and swim instructor for over 10 years. I am amazed at how lazy parents get when they bring their kids to the pool. They put those horrible water wings on their arms and put their kids in the pool so they can read a book, talk with friends or sleep. Parents don't realize that lifeguards are not babysitters!

    I think water wings should be banned. I've seen so many kids jump in with their arms up and those things just fly off like missiles once they hit the water. I rescue at least a dozen kids every summer who lose their water wings.

    Parents need to get their kids in swim lessons when they are ready. Just because this article says ages 1-4 is OK doesn't mean you sign up your kids immediately. Parents need to know their kids and how they do in the water. I've had kids at age 2 swim like fish, and I've had kids who don't want to be anywhere near the water until they are 6 or 7. If you force a kid to take swim lessons, it will be worse for them. Some kids are terrified of the water. Sometimes it helps if the parents get in the water with the instructor, and sometimes kids need to be left alone. Some kids do great in group lessons, some kids need individual instruction. Parents need to know their kids and what is best for them.

    Having said this, every child does need to learn to swim. It is not only fun, but it is a life saving skill.

    May 25, 2010 at 11:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. laura

    I was a swimmer for 18 years and taught swim lessons for 6 years. We enrolled kids ages 2 and up. There are tons of water safety things that can be taught to a 2 yr old. By the end of a 2 week session our 2 yr olds, at the very least, knew how to get to a wall if they jumped/fell in close to a wall and knew to float on their backs to save energy while keeping their mouth above water if they were too far from a wall until someone could help them.

    Swimming is a great recreational activity that can help both kids and adults stay healthy for your entire life. Everyone should learn the basics of swimming!

    May 25, 2010 at 11:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. willsmom2

    Love Infant swim resource (ISR) and can not praise this program more highly. Get your child enrolled. My son graduated at 18months.

    May 25, 2010 at 16:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Jes kolb

    poolfencecalifornia.com

    save a childs life-close the pool gate

    May 25, 2010 at 19:06 | Report abuse | Reply
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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.