As it starts to get hot outside, what better way to cool off than spending a day splashing at the pool? After all, little kids love the water, and it definitely wears them out! Before you start loading up your swim gear and slathering on sunscreen, it’s important to know pool and water safety guidelines for toddlers and preschoolers.
Drowning is the leading cause of death for children aged one through four, and that is a terrifying thought. We know how important safety is to you, just like it’s our number one priority at our Raleigh child care center, so to help you enjoy the pool this summer, we’re sharing pool and water safety tips specifically for small children.
Keep Children Within Arm’s Reach
Drowning in toddlers and preschoolers can happen in as little as 30 seconds – the time it takes to send a text message, let the dog inside, or grab a drink from your cooler. That’s why the number one rule, before swim lessons and safety gear is simply providing constant, close adult supervision. The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends “touch supervision” at the pool or around water. This means you’re within arm’s reach and you’re in the water with them, whether it’s a baby pool or a larger (added benefit: you get to cool off, too!).
You may be inclined to ask an older child to keep an eye on a younger child, but even the most responsible child can get distracted or not recognize when a toddler or preschooler is in distress. It’s best to rely on adult supervision.
Know the Signs of Drowning in Small Children
When we think of drowning, we think of flailing arms and yelling for help, but in reality, especially with children, it’s quick and often silent. Keep an eye for these signs and immediately respond if you see any of them:
- Head is low or tilted back in the water and their mouth is at water level
- Eyes are glassy or eyes are closed
- Hyperventilating or gasping for breath
- Appears to be trying to swim or roll over onto their back
- Legs are vertical in the water
- Arms are moving downward, like they’re trying to hold something that’s not there.
Most importantly, preschoolers and toddlers playing in the water are making noise, a child in distress is not.
Swimming Lessons for Preschoolers and Toddlers
Our Raleigh preschool wants to make it clear that the AAP recommends swimming lessons for all children over the age of four and the organization isn’t opposed to swim programs for younger children, but swim programs aren’t a substitute for supervision. However, they are a great way to teach kids beginning water and pool safety, learn not to be afraid in water, and can learn some basic drowning prevention skills. Fortunately, there are some wonderful swimming programs around Raleigh designed for toddlers and preschoolers, including those for children with special needs.
Pool Safety Gear in the Pool
While you don’t want to rely on floaties and inner tubes in place of supervision, they can help your child stay safe and feel more confident in the pool. Life vests like a Coast Guard Approved toddler floatation device can add some extra buoyancy for children between two and four while. Find one that fits your child’s size and feels snug, but comfortable. Older children may prefer arm bands that help with floating, and they’re available in a variety of styles and colors.
Our Raleigh Preschool Wishes You a Safe Summer!
With the right precautions, going to the pool with your toddler and preschooler is a fun way to spend the summer and provides plenty of exercise and great memories. From all of us at our 5-Star child care center, we want to wish you a safe and happy summer!
To learn more about our Raleigh preschool or schedule a tour to enroll your child, reach out to us. Give us a call at our North Hills Drive location at 919-785-0303 or our Spring Forest Location at 919-790-6888, or schedule your tour now.