Should My 4 Year Old Wear Floaties??

Updated on June 06, 2011
H.B. asks from Kentwood, LA
26 answers

My daughter is 4. Her father and I are divorced, therefore she goes back and forth every other weekend to visit him. He has a pool and doesn't see it necessary for her to wear floaties or any type of life saving device while in the pool. She can't swim and hasn't had any swim lessons besides what we have taught her. When she is at home, she wears floaties and does quite well with them. I just don't see enough confidence in her around the water that I would allow her not to wear floaties. I have told her father about my concerns and he just laughs and says I'm panicking over nothing. Even if she could swim, I believe 4 is too young to trust completely. What if she falls in? Am I correct in worrying about this, or should I really just calm down and relax??

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answers from Salinas on

Hi- I second the comment below. Floaties aren't good for kids to improve their swimming skills and won't keep them from drowning. What we did when my kids were little is have them where a life jacket when they are in the shallow water and around the outside of pool and the adults don't want to stay in the water the whole time. We'd remove it when someone is actually swimming with them so they could improve their water skills.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I think it is critical for her to learn how to swim. Teach her and require her dad to be there with her 100% at the pool, around the pool, in the pool with her etc. He should have a fence around it anyways for safety-hopefully he does? Don't use floaties----she needs to learn how to swim. GL


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Decatur on

I completely agree with Diane S. Get her some lessons (how to save herself) and some floaties or a lifesaving vest/jacket that she will love and insist on wearing. Kids can drown in a heartbeat and never make a sound. There was a 6-year-old here who drowned in a pool full of kids at the country club, with most of the kids' parents AND two lifeguards on duty. If you can't be there in person, the next best thing you can do is teach her (or have her taught) what to do if there's an emergency.

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answers from Sherman on

No floaties! As long as someone is within reach and is working with her on swimming she is fine. Floaties give a false sense of security.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Forget the floaties and get her some swimming lessons ASAP. Having her in floaties all the time will make her AND her dad less diligent about being careful. He's probably watching her like a hawk in the pool now, but the second she puts on floaties, he'll turn his back for a couple of minutes because "they're safe" and THAT'S when something bad will happen. Many public pools forbid floaties for exactly that reason - parents, feeling secure, don't watch their kids. If she's spending that much time in a pool, it's crucial that she learn how to swim, absolutely crucial. THAT'S the discussion you need to have with her dad.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Arm floaties are not safe. They can easily pop and strand a swimmer even in shallow water. Like Juliebean said, they offer a false sense of security. A life vest is the best option. We have a pool and I completely understand your concerns. I would go ahead and invest in swim lessons. Four isn't too young. Our son could swim across the pool without assistance shortly after he turned three. Knowing she can swim will give you the best piece of mind.

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answers from Omaha on

No one should wear floaties... They are dangerous and provide a false sense of security. Either be in the water next to her or put her in a real life vest. Consider a Stearns Puddle Jumper.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I won't let my 3-year-old wear floaties. What if they slipped off when I had my back turned? I'd get your kiddo into swim lessons this summer and get rid of those things.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I'm not a "floatie" fan either. You are definitely correct in your concerns, she needs something, especially if she's never had any formal swim lessons. For my kids (they have had swim lessons, and continue every summer) we put the noodles under their arms. We are constantly calling out, "get in the middle" so they don't slowly work their way to one end of the noodle and then it gets away from them. Never allow your daughter to be in danger, if you feel it's not right, you need to stand more firm.

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answers from Houston on

Oh Raspberry - both my kids have worn floaties in the pool, both are still alive, my oldest is 8 and can now swim like a fish - he wore floaties of some kind until he was 6. Of course they don't replace supervision, but they help your kids have fun, and some independence in the water.
My 3 year old has worn floaties for 2 years and loves them, they don't hinder her in the slightest.
Make them put the floaties on her, or make sure they are supervising

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

she should never wear floaties. She needs to learn to swim. Floaties give a false sense of security. She is plenty old enough to learn how to swim. My kids both learned to swim on their own (never using ANY kind of floatie devices) by the time they were 3 years old. Just make sure he is alwasy with her, watching her, and never leaves her alone

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answers from Dallas on

Speaking as another divorced mother (remarried now), you can't control what your ex does, even though this could be a life or death situation. A court order won't force him to be vigilant. This would drive me insane with worry!! (I had a different thing to drive me insane with worry: drunk driving.....a court order won't actually prevent that, either.)

Get her in swim lessons asap, the kind that teaches survival first, not true swim strokes. For example, they will teach her to turn around and find the side of the pool if she falls in, instead of flailing and ending up further into the middle of the pool. Practice, practice, practice in your pool, until it's second nature to her.

If you find some floaties she loves, she might insist upon wearing them herself, for some added protection. My daughter had some that looked like fairy wings.

I pulled my daughter out of the pool at age four, when she accidentally fell in (in her swimsuit, playing near the pool). Because it was unexpected, it startled her, and she forgot what to do. If I hadn't been watching her closely, it would have been tragic. When lots of people are around, it can be more dangerous, because people think everyone else is watching. If your ex truly concentrates on watching her, she'll be okay. But if he doesn't, then do all that you can to help her handle herself.



answers from Phoenix on

Is your husband with her when she is in the pool. If he is, then no, do not use floaties. She will learn much better without them. 4 is not too young to go without. My kids have not used them since around 3. With that said, we are always with them while they are swimming. I live in AZ and we have already had 6 or 7 drownings this year.



answers from Oklahoma City on

Since it is summer enroll her in swimming lessons as fast as possible. She is old enough to be swimming independently.


answers from Columbus on

I have always left it up to what my kids felt comfortable with. The three oldest gave up floaties sometime during their fourth Summer, so four sounds just about right to me. My youngest is four now, and so far this year is still a two floatie man, but my guess is he'll be down to one shortly and by the end of Summer, he'll probably be a free swimming man, lol :)


answers from Los Angeles on

She needs lessons and she needs them ASAP!

~4 is NOT too young to know how to swim. All my kids were trustworthy at that age to go w/out any floaties/life jacket but they all were in lessons by 2.

Pool Owner/Mom/Auntie
6 swimmers, 1 left to go!



answers from Tulsa on

Put your foot down, if you can. IMO, 4 is too young. A friend's almost 4 year old (3wks shy) drowned. Just be safe, it doesn't hurt anything. Then when she can demonstrate that she can survive if she falls in or something, let her take the floaties off. I would also make sure that he has adequate fencing or something to ensure that she can't get to the pool by herself.



answers from Honolulu on

She needs swim classes.
But still, children need supervision in a pool.
Common sense.

A child, can DROWN, in only 1" of water, facing down.

Here are some drowning stats for you. And show your Ex.

And, just Google Search "statistics on child drowning."

Floaties, are not good enough to prevent accidents/drowning.

ANY kid, needs supervision while near a pool and while in a pool.
Even a Teenager, can drown.

Here in Hawaii, even some ADULTS, have drowned, in hotel swimming pools. And yep, even if the lifeguard was there.

TELL your Ex.



answers from Mobile on

One more no floaty vote. They don't keep kids safe but make grown ups feel like they do. Better for those supervising to know that they need someone right there at all times.



answers from Oklahoma City on

I am a certified swim instructor and never used floties on my child, now in swim lessons a from of a floatie is used but only for a very short time. Floaties restrict arm movements and you have to reteach swimming and children still drown with those little plastic things and you still have to watch them constantly even when near any water,and why not spend time with your child in the pool playing and helping and getting that time that passes so quickly. As for your ex is he with her constanly watching her and have him and you take her for swimming lessons and make sure your instuctor is certified. It is amazing how many lifguards teach swimming and they themselves do not swim correctly and don't fall for they are being supervised, they don't know how to teach unless they are certified. Good luck



answers from Seattle on

Floaties are not a lifesaving device. She needs to be in a lifejacket or very close to an adult who is *in the water*. My niece nearly died after she slipped out of her floaty noodle and the "supervising" adult didn't notice.

Even after she learns to swim, a supervising adult needs to be there constantly.


answers from Los Angeles on

I'm not going to let my 3.5 wear them because I think they are a hiderance to learning to swim. She is at the age that she should learn this summer. If your kid can't swim, you need to be in the water with them. I assume thats how your ex is handeling it. I would worry about a pool in the yard for sure though, but not so much while swimming, but falling in wearing street clothes when no one is watching. But thats a different subject. I'd make teaching her to swim a top priority this summer so you don't have to worry about it. And if dad wants to be in the water with her teaching her to swim, then that will be better than hanging out in floaties.

I also second the false sense of security. After swimming with floaties all day, a family friend's little girl jumped in the pool forgetting she didn't have them on. No one thought anything of it. I remember looking at her big brown eyes staring up at me from underwater (I was 7), and I finally realized something was amis and told her mother, who was completely unaware.



answers from Baton Rouge on

I completely agree with you. My 4 year old son always wears floaties unless it is a shallow/ little kid's pool or an adult is in the pool with him. If they can't swim well yet, I think it makes perfect sense to be extra careful. Even if adults are watching from the side of the pool, they can easily get distracted and not notice that the child is in trouble. Good luck with her father!


answers from Dallas on

Just another vote for ditching the floaties and getting her into swim lessons ASAP.



answers from Birmingham on

She most definitely should wear floaties or the swimsuit that has floatation made in it! Most important is that you know she is definitely going to be around the water and you should call NOW to schedule her some swim lessons. Call a local YMCA or community pool and have her enrolled. It's worth every penny you'll spend ... honestly, it could save her life! It's a skill that she's the perfect age to learn.



answers from Seattle on

the only way my almost four year old would be in/around a pool, was with an adult in arms reach at all times. I think going in the pool without floaties is fine, as long as she has an adult with her.

BTW: Floaties are not "lifesavers" they are toys and kids can and do drown with them.
All children should wear a coastguard approved life vest when playing near the water as well, unless your pool is fenced (which it should be anyways) and she stays outside the gate when not directly supervised. Kids that age should never be in the water unattended, even if they can swim and are wearing life jackets.

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