Pool Safety for Toddlers and Young Children

One of the mistakes that many parents make is thinking they can simply keep an eye on their toddler and know his or her whereabouts at all times. While adult supervision is crucial to toddler safety, we’re all human, and no one is the perfect supervisor. And toddlers are fast! One moment you see them and the next you don’t.

In fact, some sources report that the majority of toddler pool incidents happen when an adult is supervising. Life happens, so relying on your powers of observation alone is not always enough. That’s why experts and multiple sources recommend combining adult supervision with other precautions. Here are some tips for keeping your toddler safe around swimming pools this summer.

Never Assume

If you are at a group event such as a party or family reunion where there is a pool, it may be tempting to assume someone else is watching your toddler. This can be a very dangerous assumption. Make sure you or someone specifically designated is watching your toddler at all times.

Maintain Barriers and Boundaries

Toddlers grow and change. The low fence that kept your crawling baby away from the edge of the pool may not work once she begins to walk and climb. You will need to re-evaluate your barriers constantly, updating them to keep up with your growing and changing toddler. Four feet, or 48 inches, is considered the minimum height for a toddler-safe barrier around a pool. Check locks and make sure they cannot be reached and are toddler-proof.


If you have a doorway that leads from your house to the pool, consider installing an alarm. These are becoming more popular among parents whose toddlers can silently get out of their sight and out the door before they know it. “Pool alarms” make a loud sound that alerts parents the instant the door is opened.

Ladders and Steps

If you have an above-ground pool, make sure that all ladders and steps are blocked off or removed when no one is actively using the pool.


Have set rules for behavior around the pool. Post these rules in a visible area and make sure all caregivers – babysitters, family members, etc. – see and understand them. All supervisors who are watching your toddler should know basic CPR appropriate for young children.


Keep pool toys away from the pool area when not in use. Toddlers often move toward toys they see lying out. Have life jackets or flotation devices available, and put these devices on your toddler as a precaution during family gatherings or any time the pool is open and in use. A telephone should be close by and easily accessible in case of an emergency.

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