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Swim Lessons for Infants, Babies and Toddlers

Updated on September 15, 2014

Quick Facts About Unintentional Drowning

Nobody wants to think about drowning, but information about water accidents can prevent tragedies. Statistics about drowning are shocking to say the least:

  • Drowning is the fifth most common cause of unintentional injury death in the United States
  • Children from ages 1-4 have the highest risk of drowning
  • In this age group, most drownings happen in home pools
  • 80% of drowning victims are male

Water Safety: An Essential Skill

What skill do you need in order to safely sail a boat, paddle a canoe, and snorkel in a coral reef? The ability to swim! Activities involving water are so popular that it is absolutely essential that everyone learn how to swim. Parents face a serious challenge because young children do not understand the dangers of water, yet they are very attracted to it. As every parent knows, toddlers are very fast and can get into mischief in the blink of an eye; adults need to have a healthy fear of the consequences of having their children near water.

Fortunately for parents, there are swim lessons designed to suit every lifestyle. In this Hub, we will learn about different options for parents, including traditional mommy-and-me swim lessons and the more controversial infant rescue lessons.


The Earliest Swimmers: 6 Months and Older

Conventional wisdom states that children are not developmentally ready for formal swimming lessons until they are 3 or 4 years old. The Mayo Clinic pushes that age a little further, suggesting that most children can learn to swim around the age of 5. Unfortunately, water accidents are not limited to older children that may have some swimming skill. Parents are justifiably jittery when it comes to having their infants around water. We all know that tragic water accidents happen every day, no matter how vigilant we are.

A swim program for infants has received a lot of attention lately, and it's easy to see why. Infant Swim Rescue is a program that teaches infants as young as 6 months old how to float on their backs if they ever fall into the water. Videos of tiny babies floating and breathing, unsupported, on the surface of pools have gone viral. The folks at ISR make it clear that their program is not a guarantee against drowning, but they hope that babies who can float will have a greater chance of surviving a fall into water than babies who cannot float.

Watch This Baby Float in the Pool

How Long Does it Take for a Child to Drown?

Drowning can happen more quickly than you expect.

10 seconds: A child can be submerged in bathwater. How long is 10 seconds? Long enough for you to turn away and grab a towel or pick clothes up off the floor.

2 minutes under water: A child can lose consciousness. How long is 2 minutes? Long enough to send a text message, check your email on your phone, or brush your teeth.

In 4-6 minutes, a child can sustain permanent brain damage or die. How long is 4-6 minutes? Long enough to run downstairs to turn off the microwave, go to another child's room and check on homework, or put the groceries away in the kitchen.

All parents have moments of being distracted when they are with their children. Because these moments are completely accidental, it is wise to have multiple layers of protection around your children when it comes to water. Swimming lessons, safety measures near pools (locks on gates, fences, covers, etc) and parental supervision are all necessary to keep kids safe around water.

More Information About Infant Swim Rescue Classes

Infant Swim Rescue has been teaching babies and toddlers to float for the past 40 years. The company was started in 1966 by Dr. Harvey Barnett, who, as a young man, witnessed a tragic drowning accident involving his neighbor's child. In IRS classes, babies learn to get themselves to the surface of the water and float on their backs until help arrives. Toddlers also learn to flip back onto their tummies and swim forward a few feet before flipping back over onto their backs to breathe and rest before continuing to try to find the side of a pool or lake. ISR claims that they have over 800 documented cases of babies saving themselves from drowning by using the techniques learned in the classes.

Swim lessons through ISR take five days a week, for 10 minutes a day, for five weeks. The theory behind this schedule is that the short daily lesson works with the attention span of a young child or baby, and the length of the program allows for teachers to chain skills together leading to mastery of the program.

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© 2014 hazelbrown


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    • hazelbrown profile image

      hazelbrown 3 years ago from Central PA

      Thanks, thebrownbear! I hope parents and future parents find this useful.

    • thebrownbear profile image

      thebrownbear 3 years ago

      Wow, that's amazing. Video is very impressive. I have heard about infants floating before. Your hub is very informative and answered some of my questions on this topic. Thanks for posting.