Pediatricians group: It's okay to teach tots to swim
For so many years, the American Academy of Pediatrics was opposed to teaching toddlers under the age of 4 how to swim. This largest group of pediatric doctors felt that teaching a toddler to swim would give the tot and his or her parents a false sense of security.
Now, the AAP has relaxed its stance, saying that some studies suggest that teaching very young children to swim may actually prevent drowning. In this Associated Press story, Connie Harvey, who heads aquatics development for the American Red Cross, said that parents should choose swim programs that emphasize water safety and require that a parent or adult be in the water with the child.
It's about time the AAP came to this conclusion. Both my sons took swim lessons before they were 1 with their dad in the pool with the wonderful Miss Edie at the YMCA. The program always emphasized safety -- one of the first things the kids learned was to go back to the wall if they felt in distress -- and they always had someone in the pool with them until they were old enough to be in there by themselves. My friend Sharon has always preached the importance of teaching your kids to swim -- especially since every other person we know seems to have a pool.
Even now, when they are both strong swimmers, I still am happy that friends who have big parties with lots of kids in the pool hire lifeguards or I have my eyes on them to make sure they are all right.
That's just the thing: Nothing replaces parents being careful and watching out for their kids. It doesn't take a pediatrician to teach us that.
-- Sherry Robinson
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