There are two MAIN things we learned, that we wish we would have known before it was too late:
Ditch the floaties, like puddle jumpers
Teach him self survival swim skills, like what's taught in ISR, before EVER introducing him to water
Ditch the Flotation Devices like puddle jumpers
We were VERY surprised to learn that puddle jumpers are NOT U.S. Coast Guard approved for use in pools, despite their misleading advertising. They are approved for use in open water to save your child should they unexpectedly fall into natural water, like lakes.
Puddle jumpers teach muscle memory for our kids to be vertical in the water- aka the DROWNING position. When they hit the water, their brains remember them being in the vertical position, so this is how they know to be in water- vertical. This vertical drowning position makes it so that when they try to swim, they go nowhere, tiring them out very easily. They are unable to float in this position and breathe air.
We know from home security footage that Vinny walked right into the pool (UGH. my heart physically aches writing that). He was in a puddle jumper just ~30 minutes prior, playing his little heart out with his cousins. We have video of them playing with his puddle jumper on (we are not ready to look at these videos, but we will post when we are, because I'm sure it will be impactful.) There is no doubt; the puddle jumper made him think he could swim. Our precious little 2.5-year-old wasn't capable of knowing that it wasn't his own ability keeping him afloat, it was the puddle jumper. This is why we cannot even introduce them to the puddle jumper, or any other similar flotation device.
Watch as this young child, who has worn a puddle jumper, take his first ISR lesson. Notice the natural vertical position he goes into and is unable to swim to the steps. Then notice in the second video how he, after one week of lessons, is horizontal and able to make it to the steps without help. This video demonstrates how the puddle jumpers teach our kids to naturally get into that vertical, drowning, position.
Video courtesy of ISR Scoresby Swim www.isrscoresbyswim.com
Join the Cause to End the Misinformation
The verbiage on puddle jumpers is misleading. Learn more here:
Article on puddle jumpers:
Many Wonderful People Have Paved the Way for Water Safety Awareness
70% of drownings occur during non-swim times. This means that our little ones are eager to find their own way to the water when we aren't expecting them to be there.
This is why it is IMPERATIVE that we equip them with the skills they need to survive if they find themselves in water alone. I am 100% confident that survival swim skills would have saved Vinny. Think about that when you are considering where to prioritize these lessons within your time and budget.
In my humble opinion, there are no better survival swim lessons than those that are offered through ISR. So, ISR (Infant Swimming Resource) teaches ISR (Infant Self Rescue) lessons.
To find an instructor in your area,
ISR first focuses on teaching babies and children how to save their lives should they find water alone. From 6 months-1 Year, babies are taught to float in the water while waiting for help. From 1-6 years, they are taught to swim-float-swim. Floating conserves energy while either awaiting help or swimming to safety (depending on their age).
After speaking with many ISR instructors in the country, they mention over and over that parents (and especially grandparents) have a hard time hearing their babies cry during the lessons and oftentimes take them out because of this. Think of these lessons like a workout. They are uncomfortable as they are learning new skills. They also sometimes cry when we put them in their car seats, but like survival swim lessons, we know it is FOR THEIR OWN SAFETY. A crying baby is an ALIVE baby! At the end of the 6 week course, the reassurance you'll have knowing your child can save their own life against the #1 killer, will be immeasurable. Stick it out Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa-- it's worth it!
The video below belongs to ISR and shows what is taught in 6 Month- 1 year old classes. YES- SIX MONTH OLDS CAN AND DO LEARN HOW TO SAVE THEIR LIVES!
Survival Swim Skills
1-6 Year Old Lessons
1-6 year olds learn the swim-float-swim sequence to swim for safety, but float for energy conservation until they can reach safety. The video below belongs to ISR.
Video from ISR website at www.infantswim.com