Water safety for kids, babies & toddlers highlights.
- Implement layers of water safety protocols to protect kids
- Designate an adult water watcher at at all times to keep kids safe around water
- Identify and remove water safety hazards for kids, toddlers and babies in your home
- Fence pools and spas and prevent ninja toddler escapes
- Ensure children wear a life jacket when they are in or near water
- Enroll your children in swimming and water safety lessons early
Swimming is one of life's great pleasures and is one of the best kinds of exercise. It's excellent for kids to spend time in the water. Swimming keeps a child's heart and lungs healthy, promotes strength and flexibility, increases stamina, and improves balance and posture. Plus, it gets them tired out for nice long naps!
As we all know, there are some dangers associated with children and water. However, they can be quickly addressed with a little bit of planning and common sense and shouldn't prevent your family from thoroughly enjoying swim time!
Know facts about children and drowning and create layers of protection.
Parenting is hard enough, so we like to avoid dwelling on scary statistics. However, we believe it's important to talk about water safety because drowning is the leading cause of death for children between the ages of one and four.
Further, we think it's essential for parents to know that most drownings happen at home during non-swim times. Toddlers have ninja escape skills, and a sparkling blue pool is highly tempting to curious young brains.
Further, children can drown silently, in just seconds, in as little as two inches of water. Infants with little neck muscle control cannot escape even shallow water when it covers their mouths and nose.
Most importantly, drowning is quick, silent, and much more common than most families realize. It happens every day to children with loving, attentive parents and caregivers.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends creating layers of protection against water-related injuries. Sometimes it takes a series of barriers to help prevent tragedies during normal, inevitable, and brief lapses in daily supervision that happen with every family.
Okay, now that the scary stuff is over, here are our tips on how to keep your wee ones safe while teaching them to enjoy the wonders of swimming.
Adult supervision is the best defense against drowning.
Close, within-your-sight supervision of children at all times is the most effective way to keep wee ones safe around water. Of course, most parents know this. Supervising kids, playing in or around water is common sense. Nonetheless, we feel it's essential for parents to consider what adequate adult supervision looks like.
One idea, especially on pool party days, is to designate an adult water watcher who's tasked explicitly with supervising all children in or near the water. This person is essentially the designated driver of the pool party and their job is to stay sober and focused. No multitasking and no cell phone distractions are allowed!
Maintaining focus is difficult, so it is a good idea to have parents take turns being the water watcher, perhaps in fifteen-minute shifts. There's a good reason why most lifeguards are relieved for a break every twenty minutes.
Further, parents should get in the water with young children, keeping a hand on infants or toddlers, and remaining within arms reach for older kids who aren't yet able to swim.
It's also important not to leave young children in our near water under the care of another child or to depend on a lifeguard to keep your wee ones safe.
Find and remove water safety for kids hazards in and near your home.
It's hard to know precisely when your wee one will start to reach, roll over, crawl, pull themselves up, and begin to walk. The key to keeping them safe is staying one step ahead.
So it’s important to Identify and remove water hazards in or around your home before your baby starts to crawl.
Here are some of our ideas to get you started:
- Empty water from cleaning buckets, wading pools, ice coolers, trash bins and recycling containers, and large pet bowls immediately after using them.
- Secure your toilet lid with a safety latch.
- Hide the drain stoppers from your tubs and sinks.
- Keep your bathroom doors closed.
- Secure or avoid installing water features like birdbaths, fountains, and ponds.
Fence your pool or spa.
A sparkling blue pool is irresistible to active toddlers and overly confident preschoolers, and they can be crafty about finding their way into one when they want to.
So, a four-foot-tall fence should completely surround your pool or spa. Narrow vertical fence slats are vital to prevent toddlers from scooting through. Also, beware of hand or footholds or nearby toys and furniture that may facilitate climbing. Gates should be self-closing with a latch that’s at least fifty-four inches above the ground.
You may consider adding an extra layer of protection by installing pool and gate alarms, but a proper pool fence should always be the first level of protection.
Childproof household escape routes and reduce temptation.
Of course, the first step in stopping your wee one from taking an unplanned swim is to prevent them from escaping your house. Childproofing your doors and pool-facing windows helps to stop ninja toddlers from embarking on solo adventures in the outside world. Keeping pool toys out of sight also helps to reduce this temptation.
Lifejackets are always a good idea for kids water safety.
Children should wear an approved personal flotation device (PFD) whenever they are around water, even if you don't plan on swimming. Of course, this is especially true for kids who can't swim.
The US Coast Guard recommends that infants and children wear a Type II life jacket that will keep their heads above water in almost all circumstances. Choose one with a neck collar for extra head support, a strap between the legs to keep it in place, and a handle you can grab to pull your child out of the water.
It's also essential that the life jacket fits. If your child's chin and ears slip through the neck opening when you pick them up, the PFD is likely too big. If the straps can't be buckled, zipped, or tied, it's likely too small.
Start toddler and kid water safety swimming lessons early.
Swimming lessons are joyful, and learning to swim helps keep children safe around water. Being a capable swimmer is also an essential life skill.
The AAP recommends swim lessons start around twelve months old. However, every child is different so ask your pediatrician for advice and consider your child's physical abilities and comfort level in the water when deciding when to enroll them in swimming lessons.
By age four, most children are ready to learn basic water safety survival skills such as floating, treading water, and getting themselves to an exit point. By ages five or six, most can learn to do front crawl.
Most children should know what to do if they unexpectedly end up in the water by their early school years. They should know how to self-rescue after falling in and understand how it feels to swim in clothes.
Swim programs for babies under one do not lower their risk of drowning. Nonetheless, if your baby enjoys the water, a parent and baby swim class is a fun activity to enjoy together.
Be sure to choose a learn-to-swim program with certified instructors teaching a nationally recognized water safety program through organizations like the Red Cross, Fire Departments, or Parks and Recreation programs. Also, ensure there are certified lifeguards on duty at all times.
Think about ways you can make water safety is a family affair! Everyone, including parents, caregivers, and older children, should learn how to spot swimmers in distress and implement safe rescue techniques.
And as always have fun!
From our families to yours,
Joana + Lauren