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Are babies born knowing how to hold their breath and swim?

3 doctor answers3 doctors weighed in
Dr. Adam Naddelman
Pediatrics 24 years experience
No: Babies are not born knowing how to swim. A baby can sometimes hold their breath as a reflex, but this should not be mistaken as an innate ability to swim. Water can be very dangerous for your baby: it takes a very short time for a baby to drown. It is extremely important that you carefully monitor your baby at all times whenever he or she is near water, and this includes the bath tub.
Dr. James Ferguson
Pediatrics 46 years experience
Why ?: If you put a baby in the water it may or may not have the skill.If not, the water can end up in their lungs and they can die. Babies taken into the water should be watched closely with their head held above water.
Dr. Johanna Fricke
Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics 50 years experience
Sadly, no: ​ the american academy of pediatrics: swimming lessons for infants and toddlers do not protect children from drowning. Children are not ready for formal swimming lessons until after their fourth birthday, because they cannot voluntarily hold their breath for significant amounts of time until that age. Drowning is a leading cause of unintentional injury and death among children.

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Last updated May 8, 2015

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