Baby Green Bean — Where are my floaties?

December 18, 2008

One of the greatest fears that parents have is of their child accidentally drowning. My husband’s 4-year-old nephew nearly died at a children’s party, in someone’s backyard pool. And the crazy part was that many adults were present, and one of the children noticed him in the water. 

Drowning can happen in a split second, for older children, they generally can splash around for a few moments and even have a chance to scream out for help if they are lucky. But for infants and toddlers, accidentally falling in the water can be fatal almost instantly. 
The good news is that you can teach your infants and toddlers to swim! A child inherently loves the water, and when safely and securely attended, a child can be taught to be safe in the water. 
This does not mean to leave a child alone in any type of body of water! This just means that if a baby learns to swim, they increase their chances of not immediately drowning.
Some say that a baby as young as 3 months can be introduced to pool swimming. When a baby goes underwater, their “diving reflex automatically kicks in. This is the same reflex a person has when one swallows, the epiglottis closes over and blocks the throat passage, so no water gets through. This is why a baby will be seen swimming underwater with their mouths open. But this reflex lasts only till about 18 months of age, after which toddlers and older children are taught a different way to swim. 
Swimming is one of the only activities that a small baby is completely independent, especially before they learn to walk or crawl. The water supports their weight and they are free to move their legs and arms as much as they want. They love it! This is a great bonding experience for moms and dads with their child. 
You can find a local swim instructor near you online. Also, your city will usually have a swim program for babies, six months and up. Check the local programs.

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