Toddlers aren't too young to start learning the basics of swimming, but parents and swimming instructors must educate youngsters on the dangers involved with swimming. Toddlers must understand that unsupervised water play is hazardous and they should never venture into a swimming pool, even a kiddie pool, without supervision. Young children must also learn that shallow water is dangerous and jumping into water head-first is a big no-no.
Unsupervised swimming is extremely dangerous for toddlers. Even shallow kiddie pools and bathtubs can be hazardous if a youngster is left unattended. According to a 2009 report issued by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, children ages 1 to 4 had the highest drowning rates, and most of the deaths occurred in home swimming pools. More than 30 percent of children ages 1 to 4 who died from unintentional injuries, died from drowning. Even if you get an important phone call or need to run inside to use the restroom, don't leave your toddler unattended in a swimming pool. Make sure you lock the gate to your swimming pool or dump the water out of your kiddie pool before you let your toddler play outside.
Toddlers don't have the ability to discern the depth of water in a swimming pool, so they might jump into deep water thinking they can stand. Or, they might not realize that the water level is shallow and jump in head or face first. Warn your toddler that he should never jump into a swimming pool without an adult's permission. Water depth is also a major concern if your toddler is swimming in a lake, river or ocean. Tides and currents can quickly change water depth, making it difficult for a toddler to keep his footing. It's best to keep a constant hold on your toddler if you're in waters with unknown or changing depths.
You might think that a toddler doesn't need supervision as long as she's wearing a flotation device. Or, your toddler might think it's safe to jump in as long as she's wearing one. Unfortunately, flotation devices fail, slip off and deflate, so never trust a flotation device unless an adult is supervising your toddler's water activities. Some flotation devices are hazardous to toddlers if they accidentally flip over face-first and don't have the strength to force themselves back over. Many children purposely remove their flotation devices because they don't like the restricted mobility. A flotation device can be used as a swimming aid as long as toddlers don't become dependent on them and parents watch closely to make sure devices are functioning properly.
Drinking Pool Water
Toddlers love to explore by putting things in their mouth, and swimming pool water is no exception. If your toddler is confident enough to put his face in the water, he'll likely take a few gulps before the day is done. According to the Mayo Clinic, small amounts of swallowed pool water aren't cause for concern, but too much pool water can lead to illness. Harsh cleaning chemicals, bacteria and human feces can be dangerous if ingested. Encourage your child to spit out pool water if he accidentally gets any in his mouth. Even if you know your swimming pool water at home is fresh and clean, don't let your toddler drink the water or he'll do the same thing when he's swimming in a public pool or lake.