We know, it’s so easy to grab the swimmies, or floaties as they are often called, put them on your child’s arm and let them hop into the pool. It feels safer, like a weight off your shoulders. Sigh, you can breathe, they won’t drown with their floaties. I know, all of us 80’s and 90’s kids wore floaties and we made it out alive. Listen, here are just some of the danger with floaties:
They are scary easy to remove and your kids can do it quickly without you noticing
Swimmies give false confidence to your kiddos, they think they can swim without them
Swimmies are just air and plastic, which means they can also pop and deflate while your kids are swimming
They give adults a false sense of security and often lead to adults not watching as closely as they should
Swimmies are considered a toy, not a safety device and they are NOT Coastguard approved
So let's move on to other issues that swimmies often create. When using swimmies children are in a vertical position, their hips are low in the water and heads are above water. When teaching children to swim, they are already accustomed to this position, your instructor has to work to undo this incorrect position. Children who frequently swim with swimmies tend to pull their head up with they learn to swim. They also struggle to float on top of the water as they are not accustomed to this position.
What about puddle jumpers and life jackets that are Coastguard approved? They have their place. Before children have swim lessons, in-between classes for children who are not yet swimming, while swimming in open water (lakes, ocean, ponds), or at pool parties with other children who are new or non-swimmers. When children are enrolled in swim classes constantly using the puddle jumper outside of class will not help the child learn to swim. It creates some of the same issues as the swimmies, putting the child in the wrong position for swimming and inhibits the child’s ability to properly use their arms. It is essential that children practice between their lessons without any flotation devices.
So what is a responsible parent to do? Get enrolled in lessons! Practice with your kids in the water. Teach them to wall walk with their hands - not sure what this is? Make sure the program you enroll them into teaches it! If it is absolutely necessary, use a Coastguard approved flotation device.