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Latest study says starting Swimming Lessons with children under 4 has benefits

March 29, 2013

LTS 18

What’s the right age to start swimming lessons? For decades pediatricians insisted that starting lessons before a child’s fourth birthday could actually endanger the child. However, research shows swim lessons for infants as young as four months old can improve not only water safety but coordination, fine and gross motor skills, and social development. Thus, in 2010 the American Academy of Pediatrics announced its new policy* of the benefits of starting swim lessons at a young age.
The latest research supports what water safety experts and many parents have known for years – early exposure to water and water safety should begin in infancy. Parent-child swim lessons with infants as young as four months old can help prevent drowning. According to the research done by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHHD) for the National Institutes of Health (NIH),*, early swimming lessons do not increase children’s risk of drowning, as once was believed, but more likely have a “protective effect against drowning.”
While infant swim classes like Baby Swim offered by the Dolphin Swim Club in Schaumburg won’t teach your eight month old the freestyle or breast stroke, they will learn important skills that will make learning to swim easier and learned earlier. By teaching infants and their parents the building blocks for swimming – safety, water comfort, floating, kicks and moving through the water – they will progress faster in swimming lessons. And, they’ll be safer around the water.
“It’s important that parents understand no swim lessons can ‘drown proof’ a child,” said Sara Batchelor, Dolphin Swim Club facility manager, “but the right swim program can be an important part of keeping kids of all ages safer around water and help them learn to swim faster when they are physically ready to learn the strokes.”
Early swim classes have benefits far beyond water safety and early swimming skills. Smart classes like the ones offered by Dolphin Swim Club develop social skills and coordination as well as fine and gross motor skills. The end result is healthier kids.
What should the right infant or toddler swimming program include? For starters, parent-child classes should:
• Teach parents water safety;
• Emphasize the importance of being within an arm’s reach of your child when they’re around water;
• Take place in warm water to ensure the child is comfortable and enjoys the experience;
• Encourage parent-child bonding; and
• Be taught by experienced, qualified instructors who understand how and when to properly submerge young children.

chicagotribune.com

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