Did you know that drowning remains the leading cause of death in children? That is the awful and heart-wrenching truth and because of this, experts now recommend starting swimming lessons at 1 year old and we couldn’t agree more! In a statement made the American Academy of Pediatrics, in 2017, drowning claimed the lives of almost 1000 US children younger than 20 years. A number of strategies are available to prevent these tragedies. As educators and advocates, pediatricians can play an important role in the prevention of drowning and it starts with swimming lessons. A few years ago the AAP recommended waiting until a child was 4 years old or older to start swimming lessons due to the fact that many would not be mature enough to learn the lessons. However, the new guidelines recommend starting at age one. 
“Evidence suggests that many children older than 1 year will benefit from swim lessons.”
Swim lessons aren’t the only answer but it’s a start. “While swim lessons provide one layer of protection from drowning, swim lessons do not “drown proof’ a child and parents must continue to provide barriers to prevent unintended access when not in the water and closely supervise children when in and around water.” Of course, parents have to be cautious and aware when having their children near water. Seems reasonable enough for any parent. So, why not start swim lessons even younger? Well, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “infants younger than 1 year are developmentally unable to learn the complex movements, such as breathing, necessary to swim. They may manifest reflexive swimming movement under the water but cannot effectively raise their head to breathe. There is no evidence to suggest that infant swimming programs for those younger than 1 year are beneficial.” Kids ages 1 to 4 are at the highest risk for drowning and many deaths happen when children have unexpected access to water. The AAP stresses all children should learn to swim and children and teens should wear life jackets when near bodies of water. Studies show that swim lessons starting around age 1 can reduce a child’s risk of drowning. Experts say the lessons need to teach children basic water skills, as well as water safety. So, this Summer put it on your to-do list to get your kids swim lessons, it may very well save their life one day.


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