It's been less than a year since Olympic skier Bode Miller and his wife, volleyball player Morgan Beck Miller, tragically lost their 19-month-old daughter Emeline Grier after she drowned in a swimming pool. Morgan had just announced a pregnancy a few weeks before losing Emeline, and gave birth to her little brother, Easton Vaughn Rek Miller, back in October.
Now, little Easton is taking Infant Swimming Resource lessons, something his proud mama explained in her Instagram stories this week.
"I cried tears of hope watching my baby boy learning this lifesaving skill," Morgan wrote in a series of Stories explaining that Easton is taking swimming lessons every weekday for 10 minutes.
Since losing Emeline, Morgan has been trying so hard to raise awareness of the fact that drowning is among the leading causes of death in kids under four.
In an interview with the TODAY show last summer the grieving mama asked other families to remember that pool safety isn't just an issue if you have a pool, but if you're visiting anyone who has one. Morgan and her children were visiting friends the day Emeline drowned.
"A child under 30 pounds can drown in 30 seconds. And I just keep counting to 30 in my head. That was all I needed," Morgan said.
This week she wrote about her gratitude for Infant Swimming Resource lessons, which are designed to give very young children water survival skills. After mentioning how the sight of Easton learning to swim brought her to tears of joy, Morgan wrote: "and then tears of sadness because it was all I had to do to keep my baby girl here."
We hope she's not blaming herself because Emeline's death is so not Morgan's fault—and she's so not alone. That's important to know, and it's also important to know that the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn't even recommend swimming lessons until children are a year old.
While ISR lessons like Easton is taking are popular with parents, the AAP states that "there is no evidence to suggest that infant swimming programs for those younger than 1 year are beneficial" when it comes to reducing drowning risks.
Still, parent-and-baby swimming lessons can be a fun way to get everyone used to being in pool together and prepare parents and babies for later swimming lessons, which the AAP says can reduce drowning risks.
The AAP wants parents to be aware that swimming lessons at any age can't "drown proof" a child and stresses the importance of constant adult supervision around water (we should always be within arms reach), pool barriers and CPR training for parents.
Tips to reduce the risk of childhood drowning from the AAP:
- If you have a pool, install a "4 foot, 4-sided, isolation fence that separates the pool from the house and the rest of the yard with a self-closing, self- latching gate". Also keep "a telephone and rescue equipment approved by the US Coast Guard (eg, life buoys, life jackets, and a reach tool, such as a shepherd's crook)" by the pool.
- When visiting a home or business with a pool or hot tub, parents "should carefully assess the premises to ensure basic barriers are in place, such as sliding door locks and pool fences with closed gates in good working order and ensure that supervision will be consistent."
- Learn CPR.
- During a pool party, parents and adults should take turns tapping in as the "designated watcher" and fully focus on the kids playing in or around a pool.
- If swimming at a beach or lake, choose a location with lifeguards and designated areas for swimming.
- Teach kids to stay away from bodies of water in all seasons, even winter when they are covered in ice.
[Correction, April 24, 2019: A previous headline suggested Bode Miller was swimming with Easton in the Instagram video. The baby is swimming with an ISR instructor.]