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Accident Prevention: Guidelines for Children's Pool Rules by Age

With summer around the corner, parents everywhere are eager to introduce swimming to their little ones. On the other hand, some moms and dads are cautious to allow their children in the pool due to the understandable fear of accidental drowning.

But despite their anxiety, a new study reminds parents that supervised swimming or “Mommy and me” classes are a safe activity for children as young as 4 months. And the study also reveals yet another hidden benefit: it may increase your child’s intelligence.

Researchers at the Griffith Institute for Education Research in Australia found that children under the age of 5 who learned swimming skills were stronger in visual motor-skill development and more skilled at intellectual tasks like counting, listening or following verbal cues. In other words, swimming lessons may be crucial to the development of your child’s cognitive and physical development.

So here’s to a summer of fun in the pool – but not without the necessary precautions to make sure your little one stays safe.


When it comes to safety, children of all ages need pool rules and safety guidelines. And by making safety a priority, you can reduce your child’s risk of poolside accidents. Here’s how.

0 to 2 years

Babies should not be carried in slings or unapproved devices as they are dangerous in the water and can trap infants. Walking children must always have your physical presence available at all times. Even if your little one is a strong walker, do not allow him to use shallow baby pools without you by his side. Because infants can often prove unpredictable, it’s important to always remain within an arm’s length of your child.

2 to 6 Years

Toddlers and small children are often seen with floaties around their arms, eagerly splashing in shallow waters. While it’s generally fine to allow playtime in shallow water, you must always provide uninterrupted, adequate supervision at all times even if your child is a strong swimmer. Always require the use of a coast-guard-approved lifejacket during water playtime. Never forget that a floatie, tube, air mattress, noodle or other floatation device is NOT safety equipment and cannot be depended on to keep your little one afloat.

6 to 10 Years

Swimmers in the 6 to 10 years old category need adult supervision at all times, especially when they attempt to swim on their own without any assistance from floatation devices. Always be available on deck for your child, and do not allow your little one to swim into the deep end unless he is wearing his coast-guard approved lifejacket.

10 Years and Up

Many public pools require swim tests to ensure your child is able to swim without adult assistance. This includes your child’s ability to hold his breath under water, swim front crawl from the shallow to the deep end, tread water, and float on his back without assistance. You should always accompany your older child to the pool and never leave him unattended even if you consider your child a strong swimmer.

About Michael Pines

Michael Pines founded the Law Offices of Michael Pines, APC, in San Diego in 1992. He is an accident and injury prevention expert in San Diego, on a campaign to end senseless injury — one blog at a time.

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