How can we keep our children safer around the water?
As we head towards Summer, one of the best things a parent can do to keep their child safer around water is to teach them about water safety as soon as possible, with early swimming lessons and education.
Education should start very early, with parents consistently talking to children about the rules – never go near the pool without an adult, never climb the pool fence, let an adult know if another child goes near the pool alone, swim between the flags at the beach, be careful in the bath, etc. Overall, make it fun to promote retention of the water safety messages covered. There are some great swim safety education resources available through the ‘Kids Alive, Do The 5’ website. Alternatively, we are now providing Water Safety Visits to pre-schools and childcare centres, where we read books & sing songs about water safety with our mascot, Paddles the Platypus, If you would like us to come and visit your child’s centre, just contact me – email@example.com!
Swim Australia recommends starting swimming lessons from 6 months, but you can and should practice early water familiarisation before this. Fear of the water is acquired, so make sure baby has regular baths and showers from newborn, and becomes comfortable with the sensation of water being trickled and then poured over their head. Your 6 month old will then accept the water more readily, and with less fear, when starting lessons.
In addition to safety, benefits for babies introduced to the water early include the development of gross motor skills and improved strength, co-ordination and balance, plus the warm water combined with gentle exercise will relax your baby and stimulate their appetite – many parents report that their babies usually eat and sleep better after swimming. Plus it’s great bonding time for parent and baby!