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5 Precautions Before Taking Your Toddler to a Pool

1046674_swim_boy It is a parent’s worst nightmare. I packed up my just turned 2 year old daughter and 3 month old baby boy last week to go on a play date with other moms and their children at a pool. The neighborhood pool had a baby pool that was 1 to 1.5 feet deep. My baby boy was asleep in his car seat and I was tending to my daughter in the baby pool. She was loving it and having a great time. I felt my face burning and realized that I hadn’t put sunscreen on my face. My daughter seemed fine with the other kids and there were 2 moms sitting on the edge with their feet in the pool. I got out to put sunscreen on my face.

As I was applying the lotion I looked up and saw my daughter floundering horizontally in the water. She had fallen over and couldn’t stand up to get air. I yelled “Annabelle!” and immediately ran into the water. In that split second I saw her little body trying to turn over and get her face above the water. You could see the instinct to survive in that little action. I immediately swooped her up in my arms and pat her back. I don’t think I took a breath until I heard her breathe. Thankfully, she didn’t require CPR and I had caught her in time. Of course, it is hard to stop your mind from wondering what would have happened had she didn’t make it. I know she is the Lord’s and He can take her whenever He wants, but I realized how much I loved her and would miss her if something happened to her.

Needless to say, we were a little shaken up. She was afraid to go back in the water for a little while after that. I felt like if I didn’t take her back in the pool that day, then she might stay afraid of pools. We slowly worked from the seat to the middle of the pool. I don’t think I let my eye (or even a hand) go off of her after that.

This incident reminded me that she can’t swim. Also, maybe I can’t handle going to the pool with both kids by myself, even with other moms around. At least for my own sanity I am going to keep pool visits this Summer without my husband to a minimum. I am planning to stick more with our backyard blow up pool. There are some safety precautions I could have taken first:

1. Don’t over estimate my toddler’s physical ability. I forget how much my little girl can’t do. She just learned how to jump up and down when she turned 2. I am thankful for things she can do, but I need to remember that she just doesn’t have the physical ability to do some things.

2. Wear floaties or a life vest. I have now realized why floaties are important! When we to the beach we borrowed a swimsuit that had a life vest inside the body suit. She looked a little silly, but I didn’t care. I love her enough to save her life!

3. Consider the depth of the water in the pool. The water in the baby pool came up to my daughter’s stomach and chest. My plan is to keep her in more shallow water when she is on her own in the future. We will go in deeper water too, but only when holding on to her.

4. Know CPR or at least refresh yourself. I have an idea of what to do if I need to do, but I am not sure if I really know it in case of an emergency. McKenna wrote a really good post about learning CPR here.

5. Teach my child how to float on her back. I hadn’t even thought of teaching Annabelle how to float yet, but I would like to begin working on it with her now. Here is a good video about how to teach your kid to float. It is practical and easy to follow.

I think my story may be common. Have you had a similar experience? Do you have any reservations about taking your toddler to a pool? Have you taught your toddler how to float?

5 Responses to 5 Precautions Before Taking Your Toddler to a Pool

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Breanna
    June 18, 2009 @ 5:30 am

    Thanks for posting that video! It’s very helpful! We’re hoping to put our kids in swimming lessons this summer.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Christy
    June 18, 2009 @ 5:41 am

    Wow Amanda… that is definitely scary! When our son was one, we went to his best friend’s birthday party. It was in June and the family had a small blow up pool in their back yard… there wasn’t much water in it… maybe 6 inches. My husband and I were right there next to the pool the entire time, but someone distracted us and we looked away for just a minute. At that time, Andrew lost his footing and slid into the pool. While he was old enough to stand up and turn around, the water got in his nose and scared him. He panicked. I picked him up quickly and he was fine, but to this day (and he is turning 4!) he still hates it when we pour water over his head for bath. It really did scare him! I will definitely be teaching him and our 18 month old how to float this year!!!

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Stephanie
    June 18, 2009 @ 2:29 pm

    That is definitely a scary feeling seeing your child in the water like that. When we went to Corpus Christi a few weeks ago, I took the kids to the pool with my older daughter. She went to the big pool with Sarah (my 8 year old) and I was in the baby pool with Austin (2) and Liam (3). I was in arms reach of both of them and still Austin lost his footing in the 1 foot pool and went under. I grabbed him instantly, but it was really scary. If I had turned my back for a few seconds, he could have drowned. I came to the same conclusion about being alone with my kids in the water that you did. I am glad Annabelle was okay. :)

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Heidi
    June 18, 2009 @ 3:38 pm

    I’m sorry you had to experience that. Water safety is so important no matter what the depth is. Adults who can’t swim can drown in even 4 ft. of water just by slipping or losing their footing. Scary, but true!

    I enrolled my son in swim lessons at age 2, 4, and 5 (he just completed 2-weeks of lessons today). I’ve gone through 3 different swimming schools and what I’ve been told by all 3 is that realistically, a child really won’t be able to float or swim until they’re at least 4 years old. Programs offered for 2 and 3 yr. olds are aimed more towards getting the child comfortable in water. Every child is different; some are born to be water babies, thus learn the skills of swimming earlier than others. Also, swim instructors don’t advocate using floaties (ones you blow-up) so I would buy a life jacket for Annabelle.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Amy
    June 18, 2009 @ 4:10 pm

    I’m so sorry you had to go through that.

    A little off-subject but still about a pool experience. Here was what happened with us last week…
    The six-year-old was having a blast. Swimming, playing, splashing with a good friend of his, under the watchful eye of that friend’s grandma.
    Ben was having to be watched by someone else because I was busy following around my one-year-old who did NOT want to be in the pool. Evan wandered around to peek around corners, smile at strangers, find buttons to push and water bottles to grab, etc, etc.
    It was very frustrating, with me saying at the end “I am not going to try to do this again!”

    I’m obvious still trying to adjust to having two children! :)

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