Water and babies are often a terrifying combination. Pools, bathtubs, and even bottles can all be very dangerous threats; each year, about 350 children under the age of five drown.
But lately, more and more parents are taking steps to prevent that: Across the nation, parents are enrolling their babies and toddlers in swimming lessons.
The intention of these lessons is not to turn babies into swimmers, but rather to nurture “self-rescue” behaviors if necessary. In their closely monitored lessons, babies are taught to kick, roll over, and hold their breath for short periods of time.
And, as it turns out, these lessons are not only life-saving, but they also make for very adorable photos.
Photographer Seth Casteel first achieved fame with his internationally famous Underwater Puppies. Now, he’s turning his lens toward babies — not only for their inherent cuteness, but to help promote the importance of infant swimming lessons.
After scrolling through his stunning photos, be sure to watch the video at the end. It shows you what a typical infant swimming lesson looks like.
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Though it may be shocking at first to see toddlers underwater, these babies are 100% safe and closely monitored.
In addition to being carefully supervised, these babies are part of a "self-rescue" swimming program.
In this program, babies are taught to hold their breath, kick their feet, turn over to float, and rest until help arrives.
The aim of this very successful program is to prevent infant drowning, which is the leading cause of injury-related death among children ages 1 to 4.
Drowning is also the second-leading cause of death in children 14 and under.
Thus, many parents are now enrolling their infants and toddlers in swimming lessons, as captured in these stunning photographs.
Babies as young as one year old are eligible to take lessons.
In addition to self-rescue, it's theorized that motor skills are further developed from early swimming.
But from birth to about 6 months, human babies possess a shocking instinct: an innate swimming and diving reflex.
That means that babies immersed in water will naturally hold their breath, slow their heart rate, and move themselves through the water. (But that doesn't mean babies should ever be left unsupervised in or near water.)
Now, books and calendars of these amazing photos are being sold to help promote the importance of infant swimming lessons.
It's a beautiful cause captured in a truly beautiful way!
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