Doctors Discourage Swim School for Tots

Doctors Discourage Swim School for Tots

Say Lessons Give Kids, Parents False Security

Swimming lessons for children under 4 may give them a false sense of security around the water, the American Academy of Pediatrics is warning.

“We’re discouraging lessons for children under 4 if the parents’ idea is that teaching their baby to swim makes them safer,” said Dr. Barb Smith, a pediatrician who helped write the policy statement, published in the April issue of the academy’s journal, Pediatrics.

Children under 4 are not ready physically or intellectually for lessons in how to swim, the academy said.

But the academy is not discouraging programs that get children accustomed to the water and teach safety tips, such as those developed by the YMCA and the American Red Cross.

Drowning a major cause of child deaths

But some aquatics programs try to develop water survival skills and even tell parents that their children can be taught to swim, the authors said.

Such training “can make the parents less vigilant and the baby more interested in going into the pool” alone, Smith said.

Whenever an infant or a toddler is in or around water, an adult should be within arm’s length, providing “touch supervision,” the academy said.

Drowning is one of the leading causes of unintentional injury and death among children nationally, and is the leading cause of unintentional injury and death among 1- and 2-year-olds in Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, according to the academy.

The academy issued the policy statement because of a growing interest in aquatics programs for infants and toddlers, Smith said. An estimated 5 million to 10 million children participate in aquatics programs.

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