Floaties, also called “puddle jumpers” or “water wings,” are incredibly popular. They help parents feel secure when their children are in the water and keep kids safely floating on the surface. But recent years have caused parents and experts to rethink how we use floaties in the pool. Are floaties really good for toddlers?
Benefits of Floaties
Here are some of the reasons that floaties have been a fixture of childhood for decades.
Promote a Child’s Confidence in the Water
Many experts advise introducing children to water and water activities while still very young to avoid developing a fear of water over time. Floaties help children feel safe and confident in the water, which can help them enjoy themselves more.
Give Parents Some Peace of Mind
Floaties relieve parents of the need to constantly hold their children while they are in the water. They make it easier to supervise multiple children and provide some peace of mind for child safety.
Risks of Floaties
Because kids and parents love floaties so much, they are incredibly popular pool accessories for babies and toddlers. However, experts point out that there are some potential risks associated with floaties. Here are the most important ones.
Floaties do Not Protect Children from Drowning
Many people mistakenly think that arm-band-style floaties or “water wings” will prevent children from drowning. However, they are not safety devices and should not be relied upon to protect children from drowning. Water wings can slide off a child’s arms or be under-inflated and allow a small child to tip forward with their face in the water. Safety experts and the CDC remind parents that they are not safety devices, and won’t prevent drowning.
Floaties Can Impair Learning To Swim
While floaties are often seen as “gateway” devices that help a child learn to swim, they can actually make it harder for children to learn to swim. Floaties teach children to remain upright and vertical in the water, not a natural swimming or floating position. Swim instructors often have to help children un-learn the habits they have picked up from floaties to learn to swim or float properly.
Floaties can make children and parents overconfident. When toddlers use floaties a lot, they can start to feel very confident in the water and not be aware of the risks. When toddlers use floaties, parents may relax and turn their attention elsewhere, believing the child is safe.
Are Floaties Good for Toddlers?
When you balance the risks with the benefits, you may think floaties are bad for toddlers. That isn’t necessarily true, and floaties can be a part of summer family fun in the water. Parents need to be mindful of the risks and follow these basic rules.
Avoid Over-Use and Dependence on Floaties
Whenever you take your toddler in the water, make sure that they spend some time practicing and playing without floaties. This avoids over-dependence on floaties, helps them learn proper swimming body mechanics, and helps them be more realistic about their ability in the water.
Teach Children to Swim Early
The best thing parents can do for pool safety is to teach their children to swim early. The American Association of Pediatrics says that children can take swimming lessons as early as one year old. Helping a toddler learn how to float without a floatie is a great way to improve their water safety.
Choose the Right Floaties
Instead of water wings, choose “swim vests” or puddle jumpers. These inflatable floaties go around a child’s arms but are also secured around their upper body. This style of floatie is more safe and secure for children since they can’t slip off their arms, and they hold the child’s entire neck and head out of the water. Many of these floaty styles are also approved life vests, and Coast Guard-approved safety devices, while still being colorful and fun.
Floaties remain an excellent way for parents to supervise multiple children at once, and they are a fun pool accessory. The right floaties can give a parent some peace of mind and improve water safety while a child cannot swim or float independently.
The most important thing about floaties is remembering that they are not a replacement for swimming lessons, and they aren’t always actual safety devices. While they are fun, they should be used sparingly and not as a substitute for lifesaving equipment.