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Reader Becky posed a question about teaching toddlers how to swim.

In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics last month released new guidelines that revised its earlier recommendation against swimming lessons for children under 4. The group now says it's open to classes for younger children as new drowning risks -- such as inflatable pools-- have emerged in recent years.

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In the past, the AAP advised against swimming lessons for children ages 1 to 3 because there was little evidence that lessons prevented drowning or resulted in better swim skills, and there was a concern parents would become less vigilant about supervising a child who had learned some swimming skills.

But new evidence shows that children ages 1 to 4 may be less likely to drown if they have had formal swimming instruction. The studies are small, and they don’t define what type of lessons work best, so the AAP is not recommending mandatory swim lessons for all children ages 1 to 4 at this time. Instead, the new guidance recommends that parents should decide whether to enroll an individual child in swim lessons based on the child’s frequency of exposure to water, emotional development, physical abilities, and certain health concerns related to pool water infections and pool chemicals. (Emphasis added.)

The group points out that not every child will be ready to learn how to swim at the same age. It does not recommend formal programs for infants younger than 1.

I've always been scared of the water, probably because I don't know how to swim. So, it's important that my baby, J., learns how to swim at an early age.

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