All About Babies

Is It Time to Teach Your Baby How to Swim?

This is not your average baby swim class.

infant-survival-swimming
If you're anything like me, you're taking great pains to make sure your baby's world is all BPA-free bottles, five-strap harnesses and rounded, padded corners. So small wonder that my stomach lurched a bit when I read an article in the New York Times Magazine about an unusual swimming program that involves -- gulp -- carefully dropping an infant under water.

Created in 1966 by Harvey Barnett, then an 18-year-old lifeguard, "self-rescue" teaches infants and children lifesaving skills, like how to hold their breath underwater, kick their feet, and float on their back. Learning these things "gives the baby the best possible chance" of survival, he told the Times.

While it's not your average baby swim class, which usually works up to going under water, Barnett's program has caught on with parents. Almost 300,000 children under 4 have already learned his self-rescue skills, and more than 800 kids have been saved as a result.

Is it tough for a parent to watch? I can't even imagine. But are child swim classes like these worthwhile? Without a doubt. Accidents happen, even when gates are in place and adults are around, and the consequences can be fatal: According to the CDC, every day two children aged 14 or younger die from unintentional drowning. Making sure your kid can survive an accidental fall in a pool, hot tub, or other body of water isn't just smart, it's also the responsible thing to do.

Tell us: Have you taken your baby swimming yet?

How to Introduce Your Baby to the Water

Image of baby swimming courtesy of Shutterstock