Your Full Attention
Watching your child at the pool doesn't mean glancing up periodically while you're chatting on your cell phone or grilling burgers on the deck. "You have to engage in active supervision. That means being in the water with children who are just learning to swim, and by the side of the pool -- no farther than arm's length away -- for other children, and keeping your eyes on them every second," says Alan Korn, director of public policy for Safe Kids. "You can't assume that just because your child is a good swimmer he won't drown. At no age is a child drown-proof."
In the past, pediatricians have worried that enrolling children younger than age 4 in swimming lessons might actually make the toddlers less cautious around water and give parents a false sense of security. However, a recent study from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found that kids between the ages of 1 and 4 who took formal lessons had a significantly lower risk of drowning than kids who hadn't taken lessons -- and as a result, the American Academy of Pediatrics is in the process of revising its recommendations about water classes for young children. However, kids who've taken lessons still need constant supervision in and around the water.