Kids love floaties because they can jump in the pool from the side and pop back up to the surface and roam about the water on their “own.” Parents love floaties because they give children a little more independence in the water without mom or dad always having to hold them.
We know it’s difficult to have multiple children in and around the water, especially when there’s only one parent supervising multiple kids. Sometimes parents have kids use flotation devices to have a little more peace of mind.
Flotation devices have their place and can be appropriate at times. But we also believe floaties can delay your child’s swim progress when used too frequently.
Sometimes kids can get so comfortable wearing a flotation device that they use it as a crutch. When they come to swim lessons, and don’t have a flotation device on, they have to re-learn how to be comfortable in the water all over again.
Your child’s swim instructor spends a lot of time getting your child comfortable with the water and learning different skills. If your child goes home and practices what they’ve learned at lessons with their floaties on, they aren’t getting a chance to practice the skills they just learned.
Floaties teach children to operate in a vertical position. Much of our time in swim lessons is focused on teaching swimmers how to be in a horizontal position. Flotation devices can also create a false sense of confidence in the water for both children and parents. Sometimes children are very comfortable in the water as long as they have their floaties on. They don’t truly know how to swim—they know how to stay vertical.
Children should know what their true swimming ability is without a flotation device, so they are aware of their safety in and around water. A child with a false sense of security may try to slip through a floatie, or jump into the pool without it, thinking they can swim.
If you have multiple children to supervise and they must use a flotation device, make sure to practice some time without a flotation device each time they are in the water. Keep them in swim lessons year round and they will pick up the skills they need in order to be independent in the water.
Children can pick up basic swimming skills and floating at a young age when practiced regularly. Don’t spend hundreds of dollars on swim lessons, only to put them in a floatie and undo all of the hard work at home.
Flotation devices should never serve as a substitute for active supervision. All children, regardless of their swimming ability should be actively supervised when they are in or around the water at all times.