Chances are, if you have a toddler who's a little fish, you spend a lot of time in the pool or at the beach. While it may be tempting to buy a pair of cute water wings or a brightly-colored inflatable vest to help your little swimmer, you may want to think twice. When it comes to keeping your child safe in water, a Coast Guard-approved flotation device is the safest way to go.
The Problems with Inflatable Armbands and Flotation Rings
Inflatable armbands and flotation rings are adorable. If your toddler is playing in a tiny backyard wading pool, by all means provide these for a cute photo op. Don't expect these to do a whole lot to protect your child, though. You cannot consider these to be safety devices if your child is swimming in more than a few inches of water. Inflatable water accessories that a child wears can shift on the child's body, slip off and deflate. If your child is in a pool or large body of water, this could potentially lead to tragedy.
Floating Toddler Rafts Provide No Protection
It's easy to understand why floating seats and pool riding toys are popular among toddler parents. Your little one looks adorable sitting in his yellow-spotted inner tube, complete with leg holes that let him sit down and a giraffe's neck he can grasp. These toys are not necessarily bad, especially if you are right there keeping one hand on your toddler at all times. Unfortunately, they are not really safe either. Like any inflatable toy, you run the risk of the raft deflating while your child is in it. If the raft were to flip, not only would your little one end up under water, he would also become entangled in the leg holes.
Pool Noodles are Toys, Not Safety Devices
Pool noodles are a lot of fun to play with, but they are not meant to be used as flotation devices. Wrapping a pool noodle around your toddler's waist won't keep his head above water. Your child might let go of the noodle or slip through the loop and go underwater.
Coast Guard-Approved Devices are Best
If you want to protect your child when he is in the water, invest in an appropriately-sized, U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD). Life jackets and PFDs are designed to keep your toddler floating and prevent him from going under in a pool or a large body of water. A life jacket has the additional benefit of automatically flipping your toddler onto his back if he gets into trouble in the water. It is against the law to take a child onto a boat without a PFD or life jacket. These devices may not be as comfortable or as cute as water wings but they do provide the protection your child needs. At the end of the day, that is what matters most.