Children’s Buoyancy Aids
Getting the right type of swim aid for your little one can be very confusing, gone are the days when everybody used armbands, which are still a perfectly good cheap option for a buoyancy swim aid but the market is now saturated with many other options and here is our simple guide to help you make your decision.
First of all, none of the following products is a lifesaving aid – these are just buoyancy aids to help children be introduced into the water. A lifesaving jacket is a totally different product. Secondly, any of the products mentioned coming with age and weight restrictions this is because a young /small child is unable to balance themselves correctly and may not be able to keep their heads up. These aids will not teach them to swim nor should they be left unattended at any time in the or near the water. Finally, make sure the product fits correctly, an ill-fitting buoyancy aid will just ride up and go above the head which can cause hindrance and can be dangerous.
So what’s what?
Float Jacket– Tend to be made out of neoprene so it keeps your little one warm and comes with 8-16 removable floats or are fixed floats. If you opt for the fixed float jacket then the buoyancy can’t be reduced. They are easy to take on and off with the front fastening zip. We advise you remove all the floats first then assess how many your child needs as each child has different buoyancy skills and confidence. Then gradually remove floats from each side as their confidence grows. To maintain and clean your jacket simply rinse out. All in one float suit – these are essentially like the float jacket with the removable floats only your child is in a UVF 50 suit which they don’t take off.
Armbands – Armbands tend to be the cheaper option to use. They are easy to pack and put on, however, some children don’t take too well to you taking the armbands off so can tend to rely on them. Using a back float can be an alternative option. They can also puncture.
Backfloats – These go on to your child’s back and fasten around the waist. Some brands you can reduce the buoyancy down as your child builds in confidence others like the Swimfin are just one float.
Swimdiscs – Similar to armbands, only there’s no need to inflate and they won’t puncture. You tend to start with 3 on each arm then reduce them down as needed.
Kickboards– Kickboards should only be used when your child is able to swim, as it requires them to hold on to it. They are designed to help improve their skills and floatation.
Woggle / zoodle – made from foam the woggle/zoodle are used in most swimming lessons/pools. They are flexible and diverse but requires your child to be able to hold it or the supervisor too.
Remember when choosing your aid to ask yourself what your child would like. If they are unhappy in the water no aid will encourage them to swim. Think about the colour, design, durability, easy to get on/off.
Most importantly stay happy and safe in the water.