Taking the Plunge – Your Infant’s First Swim
Author: Julie Moore
Aaaah, spring! With the last remainder of winter gradually melting into the ground, its easy to let your mind begin to wander to the firsts of summer: that first evening BBQ with friends, that first softball game being played in the park, or that first whiff of freshly-mowed grass.
But before you start day-dreaming about your little one’s first toe dip in a wading pool for swim lessons, consider the following: According to the American Academy of Paediatrics, swim classes may not be a good idea for babies. Research shows that, in children under 3, the risk of infections increases with time spent in swimming pools.
Your child may be more likely develop swimmer’s ear (due to water entering the ear), diarrhoea (due to germs in the water being swallowed), swimmer’s itch, and other rashes. Along with these greater risks, children under 3 who have taken lessons prove to be no stronger as swimmers in later years than their non-lesson counterparts.
Nor could an infant’s tendency to float in water (due to high fat content) be called upon in a life-threatening aquatic situation! So, should you shirk all water activity with your infant, and, on a hot day, ignore the enticing, glistening waters of your local outdoor swimming pool?
The answer is no. As long as you are aware of the risks, and do not expect your little one to develop self-reliant skills in the water, it is perfectly acceptable to use the pool as a place where you can both cool off.
Do keep in mind some common sense advice, however.
– Small children with colds and flus should refrain from water activity. If your child is prone to ear infections, seek the doctor’s approval before he takes the plunge.
– Don’t submerge a baby’s face. Swallowing water can cause water intoxication, a watering down of the blood that produces nausea, weakness, convulsions, and even coma.
– A baby who does not maintain good head control should never be taken into a pool. His head may bob under by accident, so wait until he is stronger.
– Lastly, have fun with your baby, but do not expect to “teach” him swimming skills. Allowing your child to feel comfortable and safe in the water is the first and most important step in his water safety training.
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