New Hype, Bad Idea.

Over the last little while, I have noticed a new trend being “hyped” by influencers. If you’re a mom who has access to social media of some kind, you may have already come across these “swimming aids for babies.

Baby Neck Floaties

Portrait of newborn baby bathing with neck rubber ring.
Cute 4 months old baby girl taking bath with inflatable swimming ring.

In my research and through the influencers I have seen. The belief is that the neck floatie allows the child to practice their motor skills. Encouraging them to kick, paddle, move around and explore the water. Some parents are using these bath aids for regular bath time, in the pool and yes, even in the hot tub. While social media has taken to the belief that this is a fun, new, and safe way for a infant to learn, this belief isn’t accurate. Nevertheless, there are still those who believe this to be a new way of allowing their child to grow and explore.

So can we trust these neck floaties? Are they a safe aid to our bath or pool time?

First of all, never trust a pocket full of air… Just like inflatable arm rings used by toddlers and younger children these swimming aids are going to be potential threats to your children. With these, most are designed to have the head supported by an inflatable plastic ring. while this concept seems like a cute way of swimming with your baby, the air pocket that your trust is placed in is not all that supportive. Let me be clear any floaties that use air to support the child is a potential danger.

So what do the experts have to say? Kyran Quinlan, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Rush University Medical center states that:

“Neck floats for babies scare me to death, and I hope they scare parents … These are potential death traps … To have your precious baby one poorly sealed seam away from going under at the pool is frightening.”

Just as experts have stated that they discourage “water wings” so too do they discourage parents from using these “neck rings”. The risk is that any deflation will immediately impact the buoyancy of the aid. For years, parents have been encouraged to just get in the water with the child, increase their bond by participating in classes and practicing together. Rather than relying on air to support your child, support them yourself. The risk is that too much trust will be placed in these aids. It is important to remember to avoid distractions that may draw your attention away from the child.

Originally, these “aids” were designed for children with special needs to allow them to participate in aqua therapy sessions while being closely monitored. These are shown to be a significant help to the child’s learning and development Nevertheless, parents have taken to social media over the last few years raving about this invention and how it aids their own child in their swimming abilities. So how should we be using these?

If you decide for medical or personal reasons to use one of these swimming aids, remember to maintain clear visual communication with the child and remain undistracted. These aid’s are not a substitute for yourself.

Does it actually provide a better foundational skill though?

No. The position the child is in while in the floaties both on the front and back is not actually encouraging your child to learn in a way that is best for their development. While on their front, it does not encourage a streamlined position and rather teaches young children to not get their face wet. Swimming lessons for Parents and Tots start at 4 months, bubbles, floats, etc. These inflatables actually encourage a bad position. While on the child’s back, you are also encouraging bad behaviour and you are limiting the way they learn. A child should be learning from an early age how to float and to get their ears, mouth and cheeks wet. It is important to remember, that while these were designed to fit a need if they aren’t helping your child learn, maybe it’s time you considered something else.

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