Skip to main content

Make a Splash Safely: Water Safety Tips For Kids Year Round

By Steve Hicks, MD, PhD

Dr. Hicks is the Chief Medical Officer for As You Are and Associate Professor of Academic General Pediatrics at Pennsylvania State College of Medicine. He has spent the last decade serving the community as a researcher and general pediatrician, performing well-child check-ups, sick visits and developmental evaluations. As a physician scientist, Dr. Hicks studies the influence of genetics and the environment on pediatric health.


Make a splash safely with our water safety tips for kids! Discover fun ways to introduce your child to water, find the best gear, understand pool rules, and explore swimming lessons. Keep your family safe and happy around water all year round!

Introduce your child to water early

If you haven’t already, introduce your child to water! Entering a pool or a lake for the first time can be daunting for children. They can’t touch the ground, water may splash their face and temperatures can be inconsistent. However, you can build confidence in the water at home with just a cup and a bathtub or shower.

  1. Make sure the bath or shower is at a warm and comfortable temperature for your child.
  2. Bring some toys that can get wet into the bath or shower to keep it fun and inviting.
  3. Once they are accustomed to the water, explain that you will pour water on their head. Make it playful!
  4. Cheer them on with positive affirmations, even if they get upset!
  5. “Rinse and Repeat!” Young kids learn well from repetition.

Come equipped

Regardless of where you swim, here are a few tips that could make the experience more enjoyable: 

  • Comfortable Swimwear: Select a bathing suit that’s comfortable and your child enjoys wearing. Change before you get to your destination to make the process easier
  • Water Accessories: Pack goggles, water toys and appropriate Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) like a life jacket or water wings. These can help a child feel more comfortable and have fun around the water, but none replace adult supervision. 
  • Sunscreen: Use an SPF of 30 or higher to protect your child’s skin. If they dislike applying sunscreen, try a lotion or stick instead of a spray, or apply it with a makeup sponge or paintbrush! 
  • Don’t forget to hydrate! Bring water or a beverage with electrolytes! Swimming uses a lot of energy, whether indoors or outdoors.   

Survey the scene

Before your child gets into the water, always check the area for anything unusual or potentially dangerous, such as:  

  • Water Conditions: Check to see if the water is too cold or too warm or if there is an animal visiting. 
  • Unique Features: Note any signs about changing tides or a rope indicating where the water gets deeper. 
  • Lifeguards: Point out the lifeguards or another trusted caregiver so your child knows who to look for in case of help.

Know the rules

Each swimming area has its own rules, even if they are similar. Whether it is a public pool, a waterpark, a beach or your home swimming pool, knowing the rules can help keep your family safe. 

  • Expectations: Talk to your child about what they can expect! Social stories are a great tool for this. Create a series of pictures with brief labels to help kids visualize what you are describing (ie: the rules and noises they might hear, like a lifeguard or PA system).

Swimming lessons rock!

Swimming lessons are fun and can save lives! It’s important for kids to learn how to swim. Check your local recreation department’s website, local gyms, YMCA, JCC or as your child’s pediatrician for recommendations.

Age: Dont’ worry if you think your child is too young! Many places offer parent and child swim lessons where an instructor leads while the parent is in the water with their child.

Have fun!

Safety is vital, but remember to have fun around the water. Engage with your child, play in the water with them, or use water toys to help them enjoy being around water. 

More information about water safety can be found on The American Red Cross’ Water Safety page. For additional resources, check out other “Note from the Doc” blogs.

We Accept

AetnaBlue Cross Blue ShieldMedicaidTRICAREUnited Healthcare

Don’t see your health insurance provider listed? Don’t get discouraged! We work with commercial insurance plans, TRICARE, traditional state Medicaid plans and managed care partners. We are constantly expanding our relationships as we grow. And, as a part of our process, our support team will review a child’s insurance benefits with their parent or guardian before the first appointment. To get started families can submit this form or contact our support team at 866.219.8595Participation may vary by state and each child’s health insurance benefits.

As Seen On