Swim Safety Tips for Your Baby or Toddler
Many of us have fond early memories of beach days, trips to the local pool, or racing down a slip ‘n’ slide in the backyard. And as a parent, there’s no better way for your little one to cool down, develop new skills, and burn some energy than to be in the water. As amusing as splashing around is, it’s important to always be watchful and aware of potential dangers. Reduce risks around with these tooshies-approved baby and toddler swim safety tips.
Why is swim safety important?
It only takes 20 seconds and a few centimetres of water for a drowning incident to occur. Tragically, it’s the top cause of death for children under five. Babies and toddlers around this age are top-heavy and lack the strength to pull themselves up, making any body of water a possible drowning hazard.
There are obvious ones like oceans, pools, water features, and baths. It’s also important to be conscious of inconspicuous areas such as buckets, pet water bowls, eskies with melted ice, and puddles.
How to be water safe in your backyard
Water-based activities in the backyard often require a hose, bucket, or sprinkler system to transform your space into a water park. Turn off or empty these items when they’re not in use. Completely drain water from objects like paddling pools, tunnels, or slides when you’re done with playing.
Keep a watchful eye on what your baby or toddler is doing at all times. You might want to create a barrier around water sources, such as taps, if they aren’t totally secure. But kids are curious, so stay alert and don’t fully rely on barriers to keep them away from water sources.
How to be swim safe around the pool
In Australia, there are lots of regulations around pool fencing at home to keep babies and children away from harm. There are certain standards for in-built and inflatable pools and outdoor spas, which help prevent little ones from crawling under or climbing over barriers. If you have a pool or spa at your home, make sure the fence is adequate. (That includes if you’re renting or leasing somewhere with a pool or spa.)
Stay inside the fenced pool area, at arm’s reach, when they’re having fun in the water. That way, you can quickly help them if needed. It’s also helpful to have a waterproof first aid/CPR sign in a visible area around the pool as a reminder in case of an emergency.
When you’re at a public pool, follow swim safety instructions supplied by the centre and stay close to your little one. The lifeguards are there to provide professional help, however, it’s not okay to rely on them to watch your child. They’re responsible for everyone’s safety at every moment and provide life-saving help.
How to be swim safe at the beach and waterways
When you’re at the beach, it’s important for everyone (yes, adults as well) to follow instructions provided by lifeguards or Surf Life Savers. Swim between the flags, avoid swimming in rough or dangerous conditions and always stay within arm’s reach of your baby or toddler. We recommend swimming at beaches that have lifeguards patrolling, for added peace of mind. (And like public pools, don’t rely on them to watch your baby or toddler for you.) Remember, most beaches don’t have lifeguards patrolling during the colder months, and some beaches don’t have lifeguards at all.
You’ll need to take similar precautions if you’re swimming in an ocean pool, lake, river, creek, dam, or stream. Stay with your little one at all times. Be careful when entering the water together, as there might be hidden dangers like submerged rocks. If possible, bring another adult with you to keep everyone safe in case of an emergency.
Always practice water safety
The most important thing you can do is to be vigilant around water. Whether you’re swimming, playing, or being anywhere near water, be alert to where your baby or toddler is at all times. You should also be aware of first aid/CPR techniques in case of an emergency.
It’s a great idea to enrol your little one in swimming lessons if they’re eager to be around water. It doesn’t mean they can swim or wade on their own, however, it helps build familiarity and comfort around the water so you can enjoy it together.