How Old Should A Child Be To Learn To Swim?

Pros and cons of teaching young children to swim

What better way to stay cool this summer but to spend some time in the water swimming.  It's great exercise and cools the body down considerably during hot days.  But, at what age should a child learn to swim?

Some say a child should not learn to swim at too young an age because if they take swim lessons, they develop a false sense of confidence.  They may think they know how to swim based on the swim instructor's huge compliments and enthusiasm.  But, if they really cannot stay afloat by themselves, they could be in danger if ever found to be alone for even a minute near open water.

Others are of the opinion that as soon as the baby is breathing air, they should be placed into water to learn to swim.  The reasoning behind this is that a baby is "swimming" inside the mother for 9 months before birth.  It is thought that once the child is born is the best time to introduce them to water since they have been in water for their formation and have the natural skills of kicking, etc.

Whichever your opinion, the benefits to teaching a young child to swim is, of course, that they learn water safety rules.  A big reason a parent will introduce swim lessons to an infant or toddler is to allow them to develop swimming skills and to teach them to use caution when around water.  One of the first things taught in most swim lessons is how to safely enter and exit a swimming pool.  Other safety issues addressed are to never run around water and to never enter a pool without an adult.  Life vests of some form are usually worn during swim lessons which is a great way to get the child used to the feel of having a floating device attached to their body.  That way, if they find themselves near open water, they may not feel comfortable enough to plunge in alone without a floatation device.  This may make the child hesitate if even for a few seconds, giving time for an adult to spot the child and make sure they are safe around the water.

Regardless of whether you wait to teach your child how to swim or if you teach your child to swim as an infant or toddler or even have a water birth, starting them off in the water, it's very important to never take your eyes off of a young child who is around water of any kind.  Even a bathtub can become a dangerous playground when a parent walks away.  It does not take long for a child to drown, and those are seconds of time that many parents will tell you, in hindsight, they wish they could relive.  To be safe, until a child is able to swim hundreds of yards unassisted; when a child is around water, make sure they have a life vest, floatie suite or floatation strap at all times, especially if you are on a boat or beach.  Make sure you remind your child not to run around water.

But, also don't forget to have fun and however you teach your child about water, do not overly frighten them.  The goal is to give them a sense of serious respect for the water while achieving the excitement and enjoyment water can bring, especially on these hot summer days.

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