People online are divided over baby survival swim lessons
In the last couple of days, some parents have sparked fury online after sharing footage of their young children taking part in survival swimming lessons.
The controversial practice involves children of a very young age being taught how to keep themselves afloat in the water, often by throwing them into a pool without floatation support (but with a spotter).
The practice can be difficult to watch, with many young children crying and frantically flailing their limbs to stay afloat. However, pediatrician Michael Middleton told the Washington Post that it is all part of the process, saying: "This is not water enjoyment. The child is being forced to do something they’re not comfortable doing."
In the last couple of days, two clips from different parents have sparked online debates as to whether or not the practice is safe.
The first video was shared to Twitter by user @SSikakane and shows an infant swimming in a pool as a spotter guides the child to the edge. The video was accompanied with the message:
"The sooner you teach them the better. The neurology behind this is beautiful. One day I'll share. For now check out how we can teach our babies the basics."
Since being posted on January 28, the clip has been viewed more than 9.2 million times and received over 61,000 retweets (as of this writing). However, the response to the video has been divided.
On one hand, there are people encouraging the practice, with many saying it is best to teach children these life-saving techniques from as young as possible.
A Twitter user with the handle @Sydnyyyy replied to the video, saying: "I’m a swim instructor/lifeguard and trust me when i say this is the real deal TEACH THEM YOUNG because muscle memory is REAL AND IT WILL SAVE YOUR CHILDS LIFE"
Some even shared videos of their own experiences with the practice:
One the other hand, many Twitter users argued against the practice, with several saying that they would never put their child through the lessons:
Another parent who has sparked debate in the comments section is TikTok user Brandon Pennington, who recently shared a video of his 18-month-old son passing his swimming test.
However, despite the fact Pennington's son manages to stay afloat, many were disturbed by his cries for help as he struggled in the pool without support. Replying to the videos one person wrote: "That could actually cause him some trauma," while another added, "That’s torture right there."
But despite the concerns, many parents were quick to highlight the benefits of the lessons, calling it "life-saving".
"Y’all are attacking the parents but this is very important," one user wrote. "Kids die bc they don’t know how to swim smh."
Another added: "I’m a lifeguard […] and this parent is being very smart! teach ur kids young so they do not risk their lives".
Per the Independent, organizations like Swim England and the Royal Life Saving Society UK have warned parents against these particular classes.
And speaking to The Times, Françoise Freedman, a medical anthropologist at the University of Cambridge and an expert on baby swimming, said: "[Forcing] a baby or toddler to float relies on extreme traumatic methods and, sadly, no amount of praise will compensate for the memory of inflicted pain - it just gets pushed into the recesses of our brain, where it is recorded."
In addition, the American Association of Pediatrics state that children can safely take swim lessons as early as one year old - and a 2009 study found an 88% reduction in the risk of drowning among children between the ages of one and four who had received swimming instructions.
So, is this something you'd be comfortable with as a parent? Let us know in the comments section...