When summer starts to heat up, there’s nothing better than heading to the pool or beach with your family to go cool off. But for a toddler, there are lots of dangers around the water. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US, drowning is the second-most common cause of death for kids age 1 to 4 in America, only behind congenital defects, which means parents have to use extra caution. “It’s important to understand that children are never ‘drown-proof,’ which is why multiple layers of safety are imperative,” says Jenny McCuiston, founder of Goldfish Swim School.
Here are some ways to keep your toddler safe by and in the water:
Start lessons early – sooner than you’d think.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) revised its safe swimming guidelines. While the organisation’s policies used to state that toddlers couldn’t really learn to swim until age 4 – and that lessons for younger kids made parents overconfident in their toddlers’ swimming abilities – the AAP now says it does see a benefit in giving kids swim lessons starting at age 1. “New evidence shows that children ages 1 to 4 may be less likely to drown if they have had formal swimming instruction,” the AAP states.
“Our main ‘tool’ in the toddler class is actually Mom and Dad,” says Leaman. “We teach the parents ways to hold the children in the water to allow their bodies to move and master basic motions while providing stability.”
But the only true safety equipment to use in the water is a life jacket. “All children should wear a life jacket when riding in a boat,” the AAP notes. “Small children and non-swimmers should also wear one at water’s edge, such as on a river bank or pier.”
“Lifejackets can be essential water-safety tools when used in addition to adult supervision,” McCuiston adds, “but be sure to check that they are Coast Guard-approved.”