One of the most important things you can do as the parent of a toddler is to learn about pool safety. Drowning is responsible for more deaths among children ages 1-4 than any other cause except for congenital anomalies (birth defects). While you might not have a pool in your own backyard, children can drown in as little as 2 inches of water. Over 3,000 people die a year from drowning and about 1 in 5 of these drownings are children. You can never start teaching your little one about pool safety too soon, and it is something they will benefit from lifelong!
Keep in mind, while we have focused on pools here these tips are helpful for other situations too. Any time you are near water keep these tips in mind. Remember there are dangers in your own home like the bathtub and toilet that should be properly secured also.
Pool Safety Tips for Toddlers
1. Laying Strict Ground Rules
While your toddler might not always take into consideration what you have to say, even the most unruly of them will comprehend when rules are very important to follow for everybody’s safety. Set strict guidelines for any time that they will be near water and keep them consistent. Remind them of your rules every time you know you will be near water. The more it is repeated to them, the more recognizable the rules will become to them.
Some of these rules might be never running near the water, not going near the water without an adult, always asking mom or dad if it is okay to swim, or something as simple as needing to be a good listener. Swimming should be fun and not scary, but encourage your toddler to learn proper pool safety to keep it that way!
When these rules are broken you need to make it clear to your toddler that it’s not okay and not safe. Follow up with a discussion or punishment that they understand from regular day to day activities.
2. Learning to Swim
Of course, one of the most important things to think about when considering pool safety for your toddler is their swimming ability. Learning to swim is a basic skill that should be taught to your child early on. You can find swim classes in most communities either at a rec center or even in personal homes. The more comfortable they get the better. Another important note, as a parent you should also know how to swim. Look into lessons if you feel at all uncomfortable in the water. (Here is our guide on what to expect your child to learn at different ages of swim lessons)
No matter how great of a swimmer your toddler becomes, you always need to be hyper-focused on their safety. If something scares them and they begin to panic, they can forget the skills they’ve learned.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that children under 3 are the most vulnerable to drowning accidents, and therefore recommend that you start swimming lessons around the age of 1.
3. No Relying on Floaties
Don’t get me wrong, we love floaties, especially puddle jumpers, however relying on floaties should not be done. It is perfectly okay for your toddler to use them for extra security or ease of getting around, but they are no substitute for supervision.
4. Stay Within Arms Reach
While you should always keep an eye on your toddler while swimming, I would go one step further and keep them within arms reach. When you feel they have become a very strong swimmer and consistently follow your pool rules, then you can let the leash go on this a bit. It is just better to be safe than sorry!
5. Take a CPR Class
Take a CPR class! I know that as parents our schedules are packed. This, however, is one thing I insist you make time for. It is a skill that surely you won’t regret having. It actually relieves some of my anxiety as a parent because I feel prepared on my own in the case of an emergency.
Pool Safety Tips for Toddlers With a Pool at Their Home
A pool at home is absolutely wonderful, but certain precautions need to be taken, especially with little ones in the house, or little ones that might be visiting the house.
Proper Barrier Walls and Alarms
Whether you are building your own pool or buying a home that happens to already have one, having a toddler means taking extra precautions. Luckily, there are plenty of products on the market that make this easy. You can find alarms for your doors, fences to block entry, and wristbands that will go off if your little one gets in the water. Take a look at some of our favorite options below!
Pool Fence DIY by Life Saver
This fence allows you to arrange it whichever way works best for your backyard. It is easy to install and can even be removed when children are not around. The fence is 12 feet long and 4 feet tall. It can be purchased here.
Sentry Safety DIY Pool Fence by EZ-Guard
This fence is much like the one mentioned above. It is extremely easy to customize to fit your backyard needs. Learn more here!
Safety Turtle 2.0 Child Immersion Pool/Water Alarm Kit
This alarm option will allow you to have child security even if you aren’t in your own home. It is simply a wristband your toddler will wear. When it gets wet an alarm will sound. Get yours here!
iSmartAlarm DWS3R Contact Sensor
This is the best option if you would like to add some home security as well. As that is actually this gadgets main purpose, but it makes for great pool security also. Click here for current pricing.
Never Alone Pool Safety Policy- Not Just for Toddlers!
If you are going to have a pool in your backyard, implement a never alone policy. This will apply to your older children as well. This rule can be set by mom & dad and made to fit your family. The basic idea is that no one goes out to the pool by themselves. It is like a buddy system and will help you to keep track of the kiddos easier. Anything can happen in the pool, a slip or fall or really anything can lead to tragic consequences.
Practice falling in the pool with clothes
If your kids know how to swim, a great thing to practice with your children is to be prepared if you fall into the pool. Most people don’t realize but falls into the pool are typically with clothes and shoes on.
Having a Party? Designate a Lifeguard for 15 Minutes with a Badge!
We are big fans of this one! The most dangerous time for a toddler to be by a pool is at a party. Everybody thinks that someone else is watching the little one and that is when tragedy can happen. I used to think that I could just lifeguard the pool, but it turns out with hosting a party, it is nearly impossible. Even having one person do the lifeguarding can get exhausting.
Instead, we got a badge that we give to responsible adults and everyone takes a 15 minute shift monitoring the kids in the pool. The badge helps remind the person that they are responsible, and no one seems to mind monitoring the pool for only 15 minutes once maybe twice during a party.
Overall, be aware of the dangers. Practice with your toddlers often about the dangers of water. Never take anything for granted and assume someone is watching your little one when they are by the pool.