Water Safety for Young Kids

I recently asked my parent friends this question on Facebook, and I got some crazy answers.

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The majority of comments all said the same thing. "Dude, just put up a gate!" 

--- Obviously! --- 

The best way to prevent young kids from falling and injuring themselves is to block access to those dangerous places.. 

As parents, we never consider teaching our kids how to use the stairs when they're that young.

And we certainly don't hire a stairs coach or go to stairs lessons! 

That would be absolutely crazy!


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But yet, lots of parents do this exact same thing to keep their kids safe around water. 

The demand for baby swimming lessons, infant survival lessons, and young child lessons continues to grow every year. 

So many of these kids can barely crawl. Some haven't even gotten that far. But yet their parents are handing them over to a swim coach to start learning how to swim…

Why do parents feel so much pressure to get their little ones learning how to swim so early? 


However, most kids spend a lot more time in direct proximity to stairs than they do a pool. Kids are at a far greater risk of falling downstairs than they are of falling into a pool – and yet we're approaching stair safety with a level-head. 

When it comes to water safety, we're not using our intuition or logic anymore. The constant drowning warnings we get from the media, Facebook, and through the grapevine are causing us, parents, to make irrational decisions out of fear.


"I want to encourage parents to slow down. "


Of course, your kids should learn to swim… but when your children are ready for those developmental milestones. 


I'm not saying drowning isn't an issue for young kids.


Drowning is a major issue for infants and young kids.


I am saying swimming lessons isn't the best way to solve for this problem – especially baby swimming lessons.


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As a 10+ year Swim Coach here are some things I want you to know:

Babies don't need swimming lessons or water survival lessons

Tragically, around 40 babies (< 1) fatally drown in the United States every year. On average, 34 out of 40 of them drown in the bathroom, almost always in the bath. This has nothing to do with swimming ability. Sadly this has everything to do with supervision.  


"Not every child is equally at risk of drowning – many kids have almost no risk. "


The most significant risk factor is a pool in your backyard. Around 350 kids aged 1 to 4 fatally drown every year in the United States – over 50% drown in their own backyard pools – almost 90% drown in private pools, including backyard pools at home and friends/relatives homes.  Keep reading for how to keep your kids safe. Children only drown in unsupervised water – outside of rare boating accidents.



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Here's what you have to do to keep your kids safe:

Block your child's access to unsupervised water. Own a pool? Install a pool fence.


Block your child's access to the water just like you block their access to the stairs! 


Life jackets aren't something to be scared of – use them


Some learn-to-swim programs have been very vocal, warning parents to avoid putting life jackets on their kids. This is nonsense and nothing but fear-mongering. Life jackets save lives! If your kids can't swim well yet because they're too young and uncoordinated or just haven't learned – put them in a life jacket. They'll instantly be able to swim around the entire pool freely, have fun, and start learning how to swim. 


My recommendations for parents with babies (under 1)


Avoid Infant Survival programs. My daughter just celebrated her 10-month birthday, and we're in no rush for lessons of any type. We take baths every night to get her in the water – we don't always use soap – but we always get in. And I put on my trunks and get in with her every single night. It's part of our daddy-daughter time. When pools open, we'll take her and get in with her. I'm not the least bit concerned about making sure she's comfortable going underwater – I'll never dunk her. She'll put her face in when she's ready – sometimes she does in the bath anyway. And when she's old enough…


My recommendations for parents with young kids (1 to 2 years)


We'll use life jackets to let her start exploring the water on her own, safely. We'll stay close and play with her, but we won't have to hold on and restrict her movement because she'll be in a life jacket. She'll have the freedom to move and play – and she'll end up discovering how to swim and move through the water on her own. We'll never go to swimming lessons - we won't need to. The life jacket she'll wear will allow us to reduce flotation as she gets stronger and more skilled in the water. Eventually, we'll ween her off the life jacket completely, and she won't need it anymore. And that process is the process of Swim Discovery™. 


Am I against swimming lessons? Not 100%. I've made my living teaching kids how to swim, and I've taught thousands. But your kids don't need expensive swimming lessons to learn how to swim – and certainly not when they're still learning how to walk. Of course, swimming lessons have their place for kids who are ready and wanting to learn how to swim the 4 competitive strokes. But if you just want your child to learn how to swim well enough to be safer and having fun playing and swimming with friends and family – swimming lessons are never needed. 


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How you do it for free

  1. Go swimming consistently
  2. Put your child in a TYR progressive training life jacket
  3. Let them play

That's it! And if you want a bit more handholding, like someone to tell you when your child is ready to reduce flotation and how much to remove from their vest – we do that with SwimAble Kid. You can join SwimAble Kid for only $20/month. Here's what you get: 

  • We send you a new game every week designed to help your child learn essential swimming skills like paddle swimming, treading water, going underwater, breath control, jumping in, and swimming with objects. 
  • Exclusive access to a SwimAble Kid Member-only Group (direct access to Jim and Jeff)
  • Exclusive access to our 60-second Virtual Swim Test
  • Flotation removal guidance 

You don't need our help to use Swim Discovery™ in your backyard or community pool. But for only $20/month, why not get a little support and feel confident you're doing everything right?

Want more tips or clarification on what you just ready? Reach out to me at jim@swimable.com

Until next time, Happy Swim Discovery!

Watch this video to learn more about Swim Discovery™:


If you need even more of a reason to give Swim Discovery™ a try -- check out our blog: “3 Reasons Your Child Doesn’t Need Swim Lessons This Summer!”


Check out our SwimAble Kid, Swim Discovery™ program to see how your child can learn to swim for only $20 a month!