Friday, 1 January 2016

Should we teach our babies to swim?

We're told that 'water familiarity'  will make our babies and toddlers safer from drowning.  But will it?
Humans have a natural instinct to avoid falling, whether into water-holes or cliffs. There is a well known experiment from years ago, when mothers tried to call their crawling babies to come to them, even though it appeared that the surface dropped several feet. (There was actually a sheet of clear glass to keep them safe - no actual cliff.)  But the babies were very reluctant to cross what they perceived as a cliff.

But these days, we make a nice time for babies in swimming pools. They have a wonderful time with a parent, it's all good fun and perfectly safe.  

The result, though? A week ago, I watched a toddler of 18 months run straight to the edge of a swimming pool, perfectly prepared to launch herself in. The father was not far away and swooped on her, stopping the plunge, but still... What if she was not being watched?  One drowned toddler.  She'd been taught to think of a swimming pool as only fun, and had lost her instinctive wariness of falling. 'Water familiarity' made her less safe, not more safe.
An older child, however, was able to be tossed in, screaming with laughter, and could dog-paddle her way to the side. That could save her life.
But that child was old enough to have some sense. She was not about to fall in or jump in when she was not allowed. The child was five. At that age, swimming lessons are a benefit. 

So sure, swimming lessons for your child, just wait until they are old enough to have some sense - like this bathing beauty from fifty years ago, for instance. 

In those days, no-one thought of 'swimming' lessons for babies.  Proportionate to the population,  were there more or less drowning deaths of toddlers? 
 Interesting question, I do not know the answer. 

And, in consideration of others, keep them out of public pools until they are toilet-trained. Please. 'Swimming nappies'  or not, a tiny child will wet itself when they go into water, and no 'swimming nappy'  is going to keep the urine out of the pool water.

Your baby is gorgeous,  we can see that.  But if swimming lessons do more to make them unsafe than safe, then maybe you should think of others, as well.  Keep your gorgeous, but incontinent baby out of public pools. 

When they are older, sure.  That's different. 

1 comment:

  1. I think it is wise to wait until the baby is ready to learn, but each child is different. Some are ready at 2 years old, and others are not ready until they are five. It is important to evaluate the skill level of each child and help them be the best they can be! Swim and be free!

    Stella Hammond @ Palm City Pools