Swimming and other water activities are essential to enjoying summertime. With so many opportunities to access water it is crucial that our children know the rules of the water.
1. Never swim alone-no matter how old or good of a swimmer. This rule is universal.
2. The only certain way to prevent your child from drowning is by holding their hand, as the American Academy of Pediatrics call it “touch supervision”. “Swimming lessons will not drown proof any child”. “An adult needs to be within arm’s reach of an infant or toddler at all times”. Being there and not being distracted or leaving them unattended even for a brief moment is vital.
3. Swimming lessons- to water proof or not to water proof? There are many companies that will teach your child to swim by waterproofing them. This is the method where a child learns to “sink or swim”. The premise is that if they fall in they will access the skills they learned in these classes and float and swim to the edge of the pool. There are as many supporters of this method as there are detractors. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently revised its recommendations for swimming lessons to as young as 1 year of age. But caution should be followed to make sure your child is developmentally ready for lessons. The most accepted view is to teach a child to swim naturally and enjoy the water. A swimming class should emphasize water safety and require a parent or other adult to be in the water with the child. In countries with the lowest percentage of drowning, children learn to swim from a young age by enjoying their time in the water never being afraid. Of course, make sure to instill a clear understanding and respect for the water and the associated dangers.
4. Keep a fence around your pool and if possible an alarm on the water in case someone accidentally falls in.
5. Swim during the cool part of the day to avoid sun burn and damage. You must reapply most suntan lotions after swimming.
6. Eczema and sensitive skin- you should rinse your child off with water, towel them off and apply moisturizer as soon as possible. Swimming and all the pool ingredients have a tendency to dry out and irritate sensitive skin..
7. Get out of the wet bathing suits as soon as possible. Staying in wet bathing suits for prolonged periods of time can cause rashes, irritations, and pain.
8. Use swimmers ear drops to protect against ear canal irritation or infection. Some of the common products include Swim Ear, Star Otic. You can also make your own home remedy using a combination of alcohol and vinegar. The general rule is a couple of drops before and after swimming to dry the ear out.
9. What age-In many places children are encouraged to go in the water as early as possible. We prefer you do not take your baby in the pool the first 2 months but make sure the water is warm enough, as they will not be able to regulate their temperature until they are at least 6 months of age. There are many classes including mommy and me swimming classes that introduce you and your child to swimming basics for young children.
10. Sunscreen lotion- if your child will be exposed to sun at all it is recommended to use a gentle waterproof suntan lotion with at least SPF 30. Make sure you reapply after each ( see section on choosing a suntan lotion)
11. Teach your children to walk and not run near any body of water.
12. Choosing flotation devices- water wings and other similar devices are not generally recommended. Never leave a child out of reach just because they have a flotation device. The US Coast Guard has a list of approved flotation devices on its website for any water activity.