Swimming lessons are a tradition for many families – once children get to be school age. But don’t wait so long to introduce your children to the water, and don’t think that swimming lessons is the same thing as teaching children to be safe around the water. The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends that children start in swimming lessons from the age of one. Why? Because drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4 globally. That is terrifying to most parents and many instinctively react by trying to keep their kids away from water until they are older, but the opposite approach will keep your child safer – for their whole life.
Think about it – babies are in water in the womb for their first 9 months. Water is naturally soothing. Do you remember your baby’s expression when they had their first bath? Quizzical at first and then a bit alarmed when they hit the water and it splashed, but then pure joy. Bath-time becomes a treasured ritual. Your baby loves the feeling of your arm around them and your close attention. And, water truly does soothe the savage beast – it’s calming. Children naturally gravitate towards water because it is soothing – and fun, and the source of great joy.
There are a number of water safety things that you can do with your child whenever you are near water, starting in infancy and adding as they get older – and remember, all of these ‘games’ are also fun for children, so it’s a positive experience for both of you.
Bath safety: Start by being positive with your baby in the bath. Toys, songs, allowing them to splash are all important ways of making your baby comfortable in and around water which will lessen their fear later on. It’s especially good for your baby to gradually get used to having water poured over their face – it’s the first step to putting their face in and blowing bubbles. Splashing may make a mess but it also lets a baby control water getting in their face. Talk to your baby, tell them you will always be near them when they are in water – and then do it – never leave your child alone in the tub.
Stories: Use a book like ‘Jabari Makes A Splash’ to teach your child ‘never go near water without a grownup’. You can order the book at Amazon and there are free coloring sheets at the web-site to remind kids of the lessons. Think about hanging up a favorite drawing in the bathroom to remind everyone that a grownup needs to be nearby whenever children are in the tub.
Humpty Dumpty: Start playing ‘Humpty Dumpty’ as soon as your child can sit up. Your child sits on the side of the pool while you hold them, you sing ‘Humpty Dumpty’ and when Humpty does a big fall you help your child ‘fall’ forward and then say ‘turn around and hold on!’ Their head doesn’t go under water and at first they probably can’t even grasp the side, so just put their clenched fist on the side of the pool. But over time you graduate to having their head go under and eventually letting go of them, but always, ‘turn around and hold on’.
Monkey Hands: When your child has the physical coordination, have them hold on to the side of the pool with both hands, with feet against the wall and ‘walk’ their hands around the pool. At first they may only be able to go a couple of feet – to the ladder or steps, but over time they’ll want to try going around the whole pool and then pulling themselves out on the side – no ladder or steps!
For Older Kids: Once they get a bit older and have mastered Humpty Dumpty and Monkey Hands, hold your child’s hand and have them push down to touch the bottom of the pool where the pool slopes. Again, it will help them internalize the correct reaction if they fall in – ‘oh yes, I just push up from the bottom and grab the side’. You are teaching them to just react correctly to save themselves.
Then move on to jumping in the deep end and swimming the length of the pool, diving for rings, and ‘coral reef dives’ – swimming between your legs without touching the coral (your legs) or the coral will scrape them. Whatever fun games you can devise that will get your kids comfortable with being in the water and out of their depth will help keep your kids safer.
The idea with all these water safety games is the same – give the child confidence, let them learn their limits in the water gradually, and most importantly, teach them what to do if they ever do fall in the water unexpectedly. You are teaching them to rescue themselves, or at worst, not panic for at least a crucial minute or two until you notice they are missing. And be prepared for each child to progress at a radically different rate. My son was diving and swimming competently at four, my daughter didn’t really connect until seven – but they both love water and understand safety and their own limitations.
Water will be around your child their whole life, and it is a source of great joy and health – help your child to enjoy the water safely!
Bringing home a new baby fills a house with joy and wonder. It can also bring worry and stress to older siblings who feel their world has just been turned upside down. A sense of jealousy, resentment, and even a little anger is normal. Siblings fear there won’t be enough love, or time to go around.
As parents, there are things we can say and do to help ease the transition.
Talk about what WON’T change once the new baby arrives and emphasis all the things that will be the same. This includes:
- Keeping a similar routine – Talk to your kids about their favorite parts of the day, and make sure you keep those consistent.
- Avoiding making big changes like toilet training, graduating from the crib, or changing rooms. Work through these transitions a few months before baby arrives, or a few months after.
- Keeping life predictable - Remember, predictability brings a sense of security that is really important to children, so keep things predictable and consistent.
Talk about the new “big sibling role”. Be sure your conversations are realistic. Getting your kids excited about the things the baby can’t do until he/she is four will create false hopes.
Involve older siblings in making meaningful decisions, before and after the baby arrives and let them help with the new baby. Make sure that one-on-one time is still spent with each child. Make it a point to have individual conversations and experiences with each of your children. This will help them feel special and loved and let them know that the new baby has not taken their spot in the family.
A fun way to help older siblings make the new baby transition: we give each of our children a disposable camera and ask them to be the photographers. They feel important and have fun taking pictures at the hospital and once we get home. It is so fun to get the pictures developed. Some of our very best photos have come from our kids.
What’s worked the best for your family??
The sad story of a seven year-old girl who was unwittingly given a peanut by a classmate in Virginia and later died from an allergic reaction has brought attention to the issues surrounding food allergies and medical treatment at schools. The school legally couldn’t give any medication that wasn’t supplied by the parent.
What are the regulations at your child’s school around food allergies? Do they have an EpiPen on hand, and can they use it without written permission?
How does your child’s school handle birthdays? Bake sales?
My children know the strict “no sharing food” policy at school. I drill it into them. But is there any real way to know that every child is following that rule? How do you deal with this??
It’s important to understand that asthma is a chronic condition that may last for an extended period of time. It is not something that happens only once and never again. Asthma occurs when there is a spasm of the muscles surrounding the bronchial tubes and airways, causing the space available for air movement to shrink. The symptoms of asthma may be coughing and difficulty breathing.
Many things can trigger an asthma attack. The most common are infections (like a bronchial infection) or allergies. But cold weather, exercise and environmental irritants can also cause episodes of asthma. If this was your child’s first experience with these symptoms, only time will tell if she has the condition.
Studies have demonstrated that a good predictor of the risk of asthma is its presence in the family tree. The point to remember is that real asthma will occur with some frequency, not just one time.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Health Canada has announced a recall of IKEA ANTILOP High Chairs due to a problem with the high chair’s belt buckle which can unlatch unexpectedly and potentially cause a child to fall out of the chair. So far there have been eight reports of falls due to the unexpected opening of the belt buckle and three of those children sustained minor injuries as a result of falling.
IKEA has voluntarily recalled the ANTILOP High Chairs to prevent further falls and to repair the problem with the buckles. The recalled high chairs were sold in IKEA stores nationwide from August 2006 through January 2010 for about $20.
ANTILOP high chairs sold with red, blue or white plastic high chair seats with detachable silver-colored metal legs and manufactured between 0607 and 0911 (YYMM format) from supplier number 17389 are included in the recall. Look underneath the seat for the production date and supplier number, which are molded into the underside of the seat. A label on the underside of the seat has the words “ANTILOP,” “IKEA” and the model number.
The following model numbers are included in this recall:
IKEA ANTILOP high chair blue Model # 701.467.92
IKEA ANTILOP high chair red Model # 501.467.93
IKEA ANTILOP high chair white Model # 300.697.24
If you own one of these high chairs, you should immediately stop using it and contact IKEA to obtain a free replacement seat restraint.
For additional information, contact IKEA toll-free at (866) 966-4532 anytime, or visit the firm’s website at www.ikea-usa.com.