Floaties, a nickname for the inflatable armbands, can be fun, but they will not keep a child safe in the water as they can easily pop or slip off. The main thing to keep in mind about floaties is that they should be considered toys, and not safety devices. Additionally, most swim experts say that overuse of floaties can hinder a child’s ability to learn to swim on their own.
Are Floaties Safe to Use?
They can be fun in the water, but as with other water toys, if they pop or slip off and your child doesn’t know how to swim, they are no good. ALWAYS have an adult nearby a child using floaties.
Take the same approach to other inflatable pool toys, such as pool rings, inflatable tubes, and air mattresses. They all can pop and not be able to support your child. The same goes for non-inflatable toys like noodles. Even though they don’t inflate, they are not strapped to your child and he/she could fall off at any time.
Parents should never get over-confident with little ones in water surrounded by these toys. They need constant supervision. None of those toys serve the purpose that a Coast Guard-approved life jacket does. Life jackets are secured to the child’s body and won’t deflate. If a child needs supervision in the water on their own, they need the same supervision with floaties on.
Do Floaties Help a Child Learn to Swim?
Most experts say that, generally, floaties do not help a child learn to swim. The two main reasons for this are:
- Kids develop more aquatic awareness without them. Floaties prevent a child from learning to move his or her body in a natural way in the water. The child doesn’t have to use her core body muscles and doesn’t develop the balance and muscles to float on her own and move around.
- Children develop a false sense of their swimming ability. Kids may love the feeling of moving around the pool like the bigger kids, but they are not really swimming. Swimming is taught in stages as children learn their boundaries and become able to do more on their own. Floaties allow kids to forget the limits of their real abilities.
In general, children who don’t use floaties will learn to swim faster than children who do. Floaties keep the child in an unnatural vertical position in the water. As a result, children who’ve spent time with floaties learn a bent-leg kick that they have to unlearn when they later learn to swim on their own.
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