Today was the kids first lesson of the year. It was a first for both of them. Our daughter is old enough to attend without a parent in the water with her. She was a little nervous but she knew three of the boys in the class already. We had told her that one of her friends was a little nervous about swimming without his mommy. When the teacher asked them to walk into the water, she grabbed his hand and the hand of another friend and they walked into the water together. I was so proud of her!
Leading up to today, I was a little worried about the baby. We have had water issues with him. He did not enjoy the water park at the Wisconsin Dells. He spent his first 9 months hating baths. He would scream and kick and work himself into a tizzy each and every bath. Some friends let us borrow their bath seat and he has been a changed little man. He actually enjoys baths now but only if he is in that seat.
I knew I couldn't take the seat with me to swimming class, so I was a little worried. The first half of the class, he was pretty stoic...just watching everything with a very serious face. Then, the teachers had us pretend to be motorboats blowing into the water with our mouths. He thought this was a pretty funny thing to watch Mommy do. After that, he loved everything. He was clapping and splashing the water and laughing at everything. Whew! What a relief!
I was very proud of both of my kiddos. I feel relieved that they both will be exposed to the water in a safe and supportive environment. So, here's what I learned today...I looked up what the American Academy of Pediatrics thinks about babies and swimming. They are not in favor of it until the kids are 4 years old. Here's what they had to say...
"Until more clear-cut scientific evidence exists on the effects of infant and toddler aquatic programs, the AAP recommends the following:
- Children are generally not developmentally ready for formal swimming lessons until after their fourth birthday.
- Aquatic programs for infants and toddlers should not be promoted as a way to decrease the risk of drowning.
- Parents should not feel secure that their child is safe in water or safe from drowning after participation in such programs.
- Whenever infants and toddlers are in or around water, an adult should be within an arm's length, providing "touch supervision."
- All aquatic programs should include information on the cognitive and motor limitations of infants and toddlers, the inherent risks of water, the strategies for prevention of drowning, and the role of adults in supervising and monitoring the safety of children in and around water.
- Hypothermia, water intoxication, and communicable diseases can be prevented by following existing medical guidelines and do not preclude infants and toddlers from participating in otherwise appropriate aquatic experience programs.
- Pediatricians should support data collection, drowning prevention research, and legislation aimed at reducing the risk of drowning in young children in and around water. "
I actually agree with their recommendations. I don't expect my kids to be independent swimmers any time soon. I would NEVER leave them alone by water. And, I really don't feel it gives me a false sense of security in their swimming abilities. My goal of swimming classes is to help my kids feel comfortable in the water so that in future years they can learn how to enjoy it safely.