Why children who swim from birth are safer swimmers

Babies have just spent months in fluid within the womb, so getting babies started early in the water will help them to feel this familiarity again. As children get older they tend to develop a ‘fear’ of swimming and water.

Starting early helps a baby feel comfortable in the water, it helps to build their confidence, teaches them respect of the water and if your child is partaking in lessons then they will learn lifesaving skills.

You might question ‘how can my baby learn lifesaving skills so early’? Babies and children learn very rapidly and through repetition as well as watching others. Getting your child to hold onto the side, become comfortable with submersions, float on their backs and learn to blow bubbles under the water are all essential lifesaving skills.

If your child has been to lessons then they would have an understanding of how to react if they were to fall into a body of water, such as a pool, pond, lake or the sea. They would know to either hold their breath or blow bubbles under the water (depending on their age) and kick up to the surface.

This confidence, understanding and ability ensures the child does not panic. Going under the water will seem natural to them and they will remain calm. Most children, who have never been taught, would panic upon hitting the water. In this panic, they may cry out or try to breathe under the water which could result in a drowning incident.

Children who have had lessons (depending on their age and ability) will also understand what to do once they have returned to the surface. Some may swim to find something to hold onto and either climb out or continue holding on. If whilst swimming, they need to take a breath, they can roll onto their backs to take a breath and then continue swimming until they reach safety.

Children who are taught from birth have an understanding of their own ability and a greater natural affinity for the water. Whether you have taken your child to swimming lessons from birth or not, being vigilant and within arm’s reach of your child around water, will help prevent any incidents from occurring.

How to keep your child safe in the water

Secondary drowning: what to look for and how to keep your child safe.

Drowning is the third highest cause of accidental death of children in the UK, according to the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS). There has been a lot on social media on secondary drowning and consequently concerned parents asking the question during their child’s swimming lessons. Questions such as what is secondary drowning? Can submerging my child cause this? How can I prevent it from happening and what are the signs and symptoms of secondary drowning? Below should address your concerns.

What is secondary drowning?

Secondary drowning occurs when someone inhales water and it enters their lungs. This causes irritation and starts to prevent the lungs from oxygenating the blood. ‘Near drowning’ is the term given when someone has been under the water for a period of time or struggling to keep their head above the water and consequently take a breath, inhaling the water into their lungs. Secondary drowning can occur in both adults and children but is rare.
Signs and symptoms of secondary drowning
The signs and symptoms can occur 1-24 hours after and are not immediate. There are some websites that state the symptoms can be days after the incident.
• Immediately after the incident the person may cough and then seem completely fine.
• Breathing gets faster and the person is working hard to breathe
• Coughing
• Chest pains
• Vomiting
• Extreme fatigue
• Changes in behaviour
Can submerging a child within a Nemo swimming lesson cause secondary drowning?
Within supervised lessons, the submersions are baby/child led and no child will go under if they are not ready. The number, depth and duration of submersions are limited as per STA (Swimming Teachers Association) guidelines. www.sta.co.uk/resources/policies/baby-swimming-policy
With these guidelines, structured plans and supervision from trained teachers a child will never be put in a situation where secondary drowning can occur.

How can I prevent it from happening?

Always remain vigilant anywhere near a body of water, whether it is at the beach, a local pool or paddling pool in your back garden. Swim where lifeguards are present and never let a child swim alone. Teach your children basic water safety, get them enrolled onto lessons and be aware of signs and symptoms. If your child has had an incident of ‘near drowning’ in the pool, go and get them checked out at hospital.
Swimming is a fun activity that everyone can enjoy. It is a great family activity and If you are aware of the dangers then accidents are preventable. Don’t get yourself overwhelmed with secondary drowning as it is rare and now you are aware of the dangers you can get swimming safely. Go have fun and enjoy!




The benefits of getting my babies into swimming lessons at a young age

We are very pleased to feature a blog from our wonderful guest blogger Dawn, we do hope you like it, as much as we do!

It’s 9am. I’m wrestling a wriggly toddler into a snug swim nappy whilst silently praying I’ve remembered my own swimsuit amongst the huge array of paraphernalia apparently necessary when attending baby swim school. It’s also my favourite activity of the week and, judging by the little one’s excited face, it’s his too.

So why did I take the decision to start my children’s swimming journeys so young? Honestly? At first it was probably more about me than my baby. Maternity leave can be a long lonely existence and some structure to the week was what I needed to help me through those daunting first few months with a newborn. We had tried all the usual baby activities: baby massage, sensory, yoga and music but they just weren’t our (my?) thing. Trying to rub essential oils onto a tired, hungry, wriggly baby on a cold church hall floor wasn’t exactly the soothing experience I had in mind. Then one day I noticed an article in the local paper about a newly-launched baby swim school and a few days later we nervously turned up for our free taster session. As soon as we met our fantastic teacher and had a fun-filled half hour in the lovely warm private pool I knew we would be signing up. We did and several years and another baby later, have never looked back.

I enrolled both of my children into swimming lessons when they were small babies and have never looked back. The benefits to my kids (now 4 and 2) have been absolutely amazing. The lovely warm pool and small class size is the perfect environment to encourage the natural ability every child is born with and develop skills, strength and stamina. The teaching is carried out in a fun way with nursery rhymes, brightly coloured toys and lots of splashing so that as well as learning, I know my babies are having a great time and are happy in the water. I have seen their confidence grow and they now have a fearlessness in the water which is lovely to see and will stay with them their whole lives. My eldest in particular has benefitted from the routine of having a weekly activity to look forward to and it’s fantastic to see them getting excited for their Thursday afternoon session.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing however. Those first few underwater dips were a bit of a shock (probably more so for me than them) but now they come up smiling. Certainly there have been cold, dark, winter mornings when I think we would all have preferred to stay home rather than get wet but we have always persevered and felt much better afterwards.

Do I regret starting my children’s swimming journeys so early? Definitely not. Would I recommend baby swim school to other parents? Absolutely. It is never too early to take the plunge.

The best activities to get involved with my baby

There are so many activities to choose from, from when your baby is little.  Many experts are on hand to give advice on what to do.  These top ten activities to be involved with are suggestions based on experience and hearing  what others have to say.

Swimming lessons, it’s a skin to skin activity you will do for 30 minutes on a weekly basis.  It allows babies to have freedom in the water and is the ultimate intimate experience for both baby and caregiver.  Trust is key in this activity and the adult in the water thankfully has no distractions.  No mobile phones allowed!

Baby massage, this activity is based on movements, strokes and technique delivered by the caregiver.  The caregiver is guided to perform certain strokes to yield results.  This activity can be particularly useful for those that are unsettled with their digestion.  The sessions themselves can help them relax so much so they sleep in the session itself or afterwards. 

Baby sensory is a weekly activity that allows the baby to be involved in varied activities and the songs that start this activity off are very catchy and can guarantee you to be singing them all day.  There are themes that are weaved within the weekly sessions and can involve the baby being exposed to new sounds, smells and textures.  Free play at the end allows your baby to play with new toys and allows the caregiver to say hello to fellow participants.

Walking in park, this activity is fantastic for the person pushing the baby vehicle, it can help with keeping fit and leading to a greater sense of wellbeing.  This activity allows the caregiver to interact with others in a relaxed and familiar environment, they can be galvanised by the changing seasons and each season brings new motivation whether it be the warmth of summer of the crispness of winter.

Sing along groups, now these are often initially out of your comfort zone as a parent some may say.  Singing to your little one in the privacy of your own home is one thing, singing in front of others…. Is another.  However, these groups are very popular, children love hearing music and rhythm.  Even better when its coming from a caregiver.

Parents are eager to communicate with their little one in many ways other than using words on their little one’s behalf.  Baby signing allows a different method of communication to develop lots of words and items such as milk have easy to learn signings.  Parents and children delight in being able to communicate in this very intimate way.

Messy play you may think this happens in every home and you do not necessarily need to attend an activity to do this.  However messy play is a structured session where children join in singing and each week brings a different theme.  Children enjoy playing with different objects and materials, all being safe and nontoxic. 

Play groups are always a good source of entertainment for your little one and can allow parents to chat with others who are in a similar position and you can share anecdotes and remedies to even the most perceived difficult issues.

Cuddles, no groups, no joining fee, and the amount you can have is endless, sometimes the best activity is one that doesn’t require any supplementary props.

Bath time, last but definitely not least.  Having a regular bath time not only promotes routine which children love but also children become familiar and accustomed to the water.  Children can unwind and relax in the bath and enjoy the intimacy of their caregiver taking care of them in this environment.