Summer is officially here, which means kids will be begging to get into the pool for the next few months. Swim safety is super important to prevent accidents (In 2014, among children 1 to 4 years old who died from an unintentional injury, one-third died from drowning. Among children ages 1 to 4, most drownings occur in home swimming pools.) If you feel like your child is too young for proper swimming lessons, which is usually around age 3, you can have them learn swim survival skills, which can be taught as early as 1 years old, according to the AAP.
Starting water survival skills with your toddler can be a great way to introduce water safety and start building their swimming skills. If you’re unsure of what the survival skills should consist of, here are 5 great ones to start with:
Float or Tread Water:
Teaching your toddler to float or tread water for at least one minute can be a huge survival skill. This will give them just enough time to call for help from an adult if they accidentally fall in, or float towards a wall to climb out.
Swim 25 Yards:
Your toddler doesn’t have to be an expert swimmer to get to safety. They just need to be able to swim or tread about 25 yards to get to the closest wall. Once they get to a wall, you can use the Climb to Exit survival skill mentioned next.
Climb to Exit:
This one is very important. Your child should be able to climb out of the pool without having to make it a ladder. One way to teach this is to get them to swim or tread towards a wall and hang on for a second to catch their breath. Then it’ll be hand-hand, elbow-elbow, leg-belly-leg-- which means they’ll start by putting their hands on the wall, then get their elbows and arms up, then get one leg up, then get their belly up and the last leg and they’ll be out of the pool and to safety.
Turn in a Full Circle to Exit:
Teach your child how to make a full turn in the water if they fall in and face a wall in order to slowly try to swim towards it and climb up and out to safety. One way to do this is to teach them to bicycle their legs to turn around.
Rise to the Surface:
Toddlers need to learn to step into water or jump into water over their heads and return to the surface.