22 answers

What Floaties Do You Recommend?

What kind of floaties should I use this summer? Thanks for the help.

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The Learn to Swim yellow vest by Aqua Swim School worked best for my two year old last year. We bought it at the grocery store. :) It is fantastic, they can wear it all day, it is light and dries easily.

What you need to do is get the 3 1/2 year old in lessons until she can swim. A lot of kids can swim by the time they are 4 if they have a lot of swim lessons (and some even take to it immediately and can swim by 3 years old). Next, floaties from Target work just fine. I have used them and they work good.

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Hi M.,

Super Soft are the best out there and they are coast guard approved. They are quite expensive ($40-$60 each) but I have had mine for 3 years and it works great. I bought another one last year for my son on Craig's List for $10. So search around. Once the kids try them, they take a little getting used to, but once they got it...they will feel more independent.

Your very best option is to enroll them in swimming lessons, pronto. A former lifeguard/swim instructor told me to never use floaties and we did take that advice. We enrolled our daughter in two sessions of swim lessons last summer and by the end of the first session, she was pretty much swimming. By the end of the second session, she was swimming across a high school pool (at 4 years old). I will say that if you choose private lessons, verus group, the process of learning to swim will progress much more quickly. We did group lessons first, then private next. I definitely think that the additional money spent for the private lessons was sooo worth it as far as results go. Nothing better than one-on-one instruction.

Hello, All of our grandsons used floaties and now they are all very good swimmers. I used to take all of them to the pool. Anyone who wasn't a swimmer HAD to wear them. Now I have an 18 month old grandaughter and she will also wear them. We have a "baby pool" by our regular one, but they can be so fast when you try to check on each of them that I need to have the extra safety. I haven't bought them for my grandaughter yet, but it seems to me that the brand we used was Safety 1st. We have also used the slip over vests and have had good luck with them. We never take our eyes off of them, but I feel better having the extra help.
Good luck with your precious little girls.
K. K.


Sorry for the super long link, but I highly recommend something like this. My daughter took swimming lessons and this is what was recommended to us by the instructor. He told us that arm floaties kind of "suspend" the child vertically, while the belt put them in more of a "swimming" position :)

We bought one that is adjustable by "level" (it has 3 foam blocks, and as the child gets a bit better, you take one off and they have to kick a bit harder... So it makes it more of a gradual transition - going from flotation device to none).

PS- We tried a life vest with my daughter once at a pool where they wouldn't allow us to use anything but THEIR life vests, and my daughter HATED it. IT restricted her movement and it kept floating up into her face. With the belt, she does AMAZING. Can swim from one side of a pool to the other with ease, comfort, and safety.

1st I reccomend swimmong lessons. lots of them.

I had a vest that was great. I can not remember who made it...safety 1st? it had stretchy strings on the side so if fit snug. and it was smallish.

I have 5 yo son and an almost 3 yo daughter. Our home has a pool, so I know your concerns quite well. One Mom, two kids running opposite directions in the pool. Last year was the first time we needed to buy a Speedo life jacket for my son. Before then he was the only child, or liked being in the infant floater mesh circle things. We tried out two different styles of the Speedo. The first was the one where the floatie pads went all the way up the shoulder. It would rise up and rub his neck and cheeks raw, even with the crotch strap. The second was the one where the float pads came just up to the breastbone and had nylon fabric up to the shoulder. That worked great for him once he figured out how to balance his body in it. I kept it for my daughter to use this year.

I also highly recommend taking your kids for swim lessons. I spend every summer teaching my kids in our own pool, but this year they will both be going to the YMCA for swim lessons. I want them to be comfortable swimming in any setting, especially an emergency situation. Or check out your local city classes.

I would go the life jacket way.I use them for all 3 of my kids..7,4,and 1yr.they work great and never had any kind of "underwater" accident.My girls had the jackets with barbie and dora design from walmart..as long as they are approved they should be fine :) good luck and have fun :)

I am seasonally employed as a Recreation Specialist, managing WSI-trained lifeguards during the summer months. I do NOT recommend the traditional "inflatable floaties", especially at the beach where there is a tide and waves. It sounds like you're already thinking this, and leaning towards a life jacket, which are the safest option for your children. Please, whichever model you select, ensure that it is US Coast Guard approved by searching for a seal on the inside of the vest/device near the weight guidelines, for these are the safest devices to use in all waters. If you're looking for something that is like a traditional "floatie", you can try this: Last summer, the Stearns brand began promoting their newest line of flotation gear, the Puddle Jumper. It resembles a half-jacket and arm floaters combined into one product, without actually being inflatable (the key when choosing a product!). The smallest size is for children who weigh 30lbs. These are sold at Walmart and Target in the summer months, and I know you can order them online as well, from those stores and Amazon.
Good luck with your choice! :)

While I agree about the life jacket, both of my kids (almost exactly the same age as yours) hated them.

We got some of the Speedo fabric floaties last year, and both love them. We really didn't let our daughter out of our sight at that point in time because she was only 15 months-old (and fearless). But, our son (who was a water wimp initially) did fabulously with them. We were always around and monitoring him, but they allowed him to be much more independent than he was at the beginning of the season.

Good luck!

I would recommend don't buy them any floaties, but enroll them into swim classes. Let them learn how to swim and you will all three be safer when in the water.

First, I agree that floaties are not the way to go. I got a bodyglove wetsuit baby carrier (bjorn style) so that I can harness the baby and still play with the toddler. Not sure if it will work for your children's ages but you might look into it.

What you need to do is get the 3 1/2 year old in lessons until she can swim. A lot of kids can swim by the time they are 4 if they have a lot of swim lessons (and some even take to it immediately and can swim by 3 years old). Next, floaties from Target work just fine. I have used them and they work good.

We have life vests we got from walmart, and they work great. You do have to be there, cause kids are totally inventive and will find a way to tip over, but they are super nice. They provide a good place to grab and support enough that the kids can learn swimming skills. My daughter loves the water, and she was getting really good last summer.
Good luck!

When my kids were ages 1 through 4 years old, we lived in Georgia and our subdivision had a pool that was about 300 yards from the house. We loved, loved, loved being at the pool. I used the vests that strap on and had buoyant "pads" inside it. You start off with all of them in the vest. As the child gets used to the water and better at swimming, you can take one pad at a time out, so that he can gradually learn to keep himself floating. It was great, because they learned at their own pace. There were at least 2 times that we saw an floatie slip off in the middle of the pool, so that's why I chose the vest. Coast Guard approved vests are great, but my kids hated being so constricted in them. If you are going to be right there while they swim, these vests are great! (I wish I could remember their exact name, but I'm sure the packaging would show the pads within) Good luck and have fun!

we have a pool and I have tried different floaties from Wal Mart etc. The suit that he wears, that foam vest, the bubble on the back. None of them made my son or me feel safe. At the end of last summer we bought a life vest at a boat marina. Talk about a difference! He actually stays UP in it and feels safe enough to try to learn to swim and isn't clutching onto me for dear life. It might not be as comfy as some of the wal mart float devices, but I feel safer with him in it. I hate to say you might need to try different things, but for our family the actual life vest with the strap that goes between their legs is great, and it only cost 30 dollars.

I totally agree with Heather C. on the Puddle Jumper from Stearns. I happened to stumble upon it in Walmart, and we LOVE it. It has similar properties to an actual life jacket, but is more comfortable for and conducive to swimming than a life jacket would be.

This is from the Stearns website, and if you go to the tabs at the bottom and click on "MultiMedia Views," it actually plays a demonstration video of kids wearing the Puddle Jumper.

However, I would not purchase it through the Stearns site, as it costs almost twice as much as at Walmart or Target.



This is PERFECT for your 3 1/2 year old. That's when we got it, and it was just enough to keep my son afloat while allowing him plenty of freedom of movement, and safe enough to give me peace of mind! Give it a try. I don't think you'll be sorry!!! We can't wait for summer to get here so we can get back in the pool too (we're in snowy PA... :)

One thing we kept having people give us was those swimsuits that have floats made into them. They come from walmart and the float part would just stretch the suit out and go above their faces and their faces would be under water before we knew it. It also would pull so tight between their legs that it could leave marks for days. I think floaties are great. the kids feel secure in them and all ours learned to swim on their own using them by pre-school age. You could always do swim lessons and go by the teacher recommendations.

The Learn to Swim yellow vest by Aqua Swim School worked best for my two year old last year. We bought it at the grocery store. :) It is fantastic, they can wear it all day, it is light and dries easily.

A swim vest would probably be best. Not likely to come off and more comfortable. Especially for the littlest one.
Floaties are not bad though. My girlfriend has given swim lessons for years, to children 3 and up. However, she gave my daughter lessons and had her swimming, literally, before age 2. She would jump in the deep end, swim around, get out and do it all over again - quite gleefully! My friend said that was find for short swims under 30 minutes, but with a pool in the backyard and two older siblings, my kids were in the pool for hours on end. She said my little one would not have the strength and endurance to swim for that long, so she recommended floaties. It worked great. good luck.

I have taught swim lessons for over 15 years and have a son who sounds similar to your daughters. Last summer I got my son a pull over float. It goes over his head and then snaps between his legs so it doesn't float up and choke him. It has removable pads so you can adjust it to what your child needs. It also teaches him to swim better than floaties since his arms are free and I can make the floats so he lays more on his stomach instead of being straight up and down. I have seen this particular float at Toys R Us and Target. I believe they are about $16 each.

Please don't use floaties. You are right they give a false sense of security and young children have drowned wearing them when left unattended. I have twins and understand your nervousness. I recommend life vests and with vest on you can put 22 month old in a floating device so at least one is with you.

Hi there,
I'm going with the Stearn's puddle jumpers. they are for kids 30lb-50lbs. If you look up Stearn's on target, they will give you a whole array of options from vests to the puddle jumpers. Check it out!
Have a great time out there in the pool!

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