View Full Version : What kind of life vest/flotation vest do you use?

03-10-2004, 11:42 AM
My ILs have a cottage on a lake in southwestern MI. We go there on weekends in the summers. This summer, since I'm a newly-minted SAHM, I'll actually be spending a couple of weeks there. Last year we had a life vest for Shelby for the boat (which we used ONCE :) ). This year, I would like to get something that I can use for her when she's splashing around in the lake AS WELL as when we are riding in the boat - so it would have to be approved for that purpose. What kinds of safety devices are actually safe? Are there dual-purpose safety devices? Do those blow-up swimsuits work? If you have any experience in this area, I would appreciate it!

BTW, Shelby is 33 inches and about 30 lbs - so I think the small toddler sizes may fit her for flotation devices.

Thanks in advance for your help!!


Mama to DDs Shelby 09/19/02 and Sydney 10/16/03

03-30-2004, 01:36 AM
I would like to knwo, too. I saw some of those float suits at Costco, but DH thinks they're meant for new swimmers and not a toddler who will just be floating upright.

I thought it would be good for him to get "free" movement in the water (holding our hands of course) and not just be held or in a boat float.

03-30-2004, 08:23 AM
IMO, you're going to need two floatation devices still - one for the boat like this: http://tinyurl.com/3g6y7

and one for splashing around the beach. FWIW, I tried several floation devices for Shea (at the time, around Shelby's size) and for my mom's pool, he did very well and was very happy in this:

http://www.pooltoy.com/swimsweater1.html - I got his at walmart. He would run and jump right into the pool (no fear!!!) and then bob right back to the surface.

I would skip the "blow-up" floatation devices - they leak and they're easily popped.


03-30-2004, 12:37 PM
Please take this for whatever it is worth, but I just wanted to throw it out there...

I think you absolutely need a swim vest for the boat and one that is rated to turn your babe on her back if she ever falls out. For that reason, I don't think there is any combo type of flotation device because for playing, the kids wouldn't want to be stuck on their back.

That being said, I just want to encourage you to consider not getting any flotation devices for the playing in the pool. As a former lifeguard and swim instructor, I really hated them. (Although the one that Pam linked to is one of the better ones.) I found that both parents and kids had a very unrealistic view of what they could do once those flotation devices were on. I can't tell you how many kids I had to go grab because mom or dad didn't notice that the water wing had slipped off of the upper arm to the forearm, so the arm was floating but the babe was not. Or the ones with the bubbles on the back that kept the babe face down. Even the inner tube ones can float up in a way that pins one of the arms, making the weight uneven and sometimes causing the babe to go face first.

Finally, those devices also hamper learning how to effectively swim. Kids get used to the bicycle type motion that they use to get around with their floaties and head straight up. It is tricky for them to then relearn that head goes in the water and the legs flutter, rather than bicycle. Plus, when they don't get as far on their own, they are more apt to get discouraged.

I'm sure that there will be plenty who disagree with me, but I'm not planning on getting my son anything more than a kickboard as a flotation device. He'll love scooting around on it with mom and dad but won't have any delusions of his innate ability:) HTH!

03-30-2004, 01:01 PM
Kerry, even those one piece swimsuits that float? I think it just had floats on the chest, not arms?

03-30-2004, 01:31 PM
I'm only familiar with variations of the one that Pam posted, so there certainly could be something new and improved out there. I saw some that had channels (for lack of a better word) which contained various pieces of floating materials (styrofoam or inflatable tubing) but those seemed to invariably pop out of the channels. I know a ton of moms like them because I saw them every day, but I never did see one that I liked. (Again, though, it was also part of my bias against anything that worked against learning how to swim properly.)

03-30-2004, 01:51 PM
Thank you so much for posting your opinion. It has helped me make up my mind: no pool floaties for my daughter.

Growing up in Miami, I heard about too many drownings of children in neighborhood pools. Even though I don't live in the warmest of climates now, and not as many people have pools as in Miami, I wanted my child to learn how to swim as soon as possible. She is in her second YMCA class.

I so appreciate you bringing out some of the downfalls of the floaties. I would never have thought of those. It also didn't occur to me that the floatie could possibly slow down her learning how to effectively swim and float on her own.

Again, thank for your insight. I'm sure my daughter will be better off because of it.

03-30-2004, 02:58 PM
I agree that an approved flotation device for a boat will be different than one for playing in the pool.

For the pool, we really like Pool Pal swim suits. They put the child in the correct position for learning how to swim. I used this suit for a few years with my son and I intend to use it again with Autumn.

The floats are solid, so they can't pop. They are built into the suit, so they can't come loose. They are counterbalanced to the weight of the child, so the proper flotation is acheived. Worth checking out!

03-30-2004, 04:49 PM
FWIW, I tried a one-piece "suit" - made Shea look like the Incredible Hulk and he hated it. I agree with Kerry's advice - however with our daredevil child - I needed something to bounce him back to the surface when he jumps/falls in the pool and I go dive in after him. He has no fear about pools and will jump in with or without a life jacket/floatation device. Nothing can replace adult supervision!!!

This summer, he'll be old enough to start swim lessons at the Y without me in the pool. I can't say enough about our local YMCA's swimming programs - I keep Tess in swim lessons year 'round. I figure swimming is a good survival skill to have :)

03-31-2004, 04:15 AM
I was thinking of one of these for our rare pool play:
I saw something similiar to the above at costco (maybe this: http://www.swimoutlet.com/product.asp?0=204&1=352&3=2136), but shapes more like a mini-summer wetsuit. Dh thinks this would not be good for the purpose of being upright, rather a child who is going to be horizontal (i.e. trying to swim or something).

or this type


Normally, in the pool (we don't have one, relatives do) Ds is either in a float like this: http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B00005V3RO.01.MZZZZZZZ.jpg
or we hold him. I was thinking something the ones above would be nice so we could just hold his hands or do like a ring around the rosey type thing and he can feel like he's moving more freely. For those uses, do you still think they're not good?

I'm not trying to debate, get your opinion as a lifeguard. Thanks

Note: He'd never be unattended near a pool.

03-31-2004, 05:18 PM
The first pic: this is the suit that Shea absolutely hated - and it was a pain to get him into it, plus this suit did not hold him upright in the pool.

The second pic: the "inner-tube" suit - loved it. It took Shea two outings to figure out how to keep upright in it. This is his "cannonball" suit - he jumps on in and then bobs back up to the surface - the joys of a daredevil little boy :)


03-31-2004, 09:04 PM
This is the kind of suit we bought our daughter http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.gsp?cat=14521&dept=4171&product_id=2608245&path=0%3A4171%3A14521%3A60306
(only we got the girl version)
This one IS Coast Guard approved though they note that it is for still water (i.e. a calm lake/pool). Unlike the suit that the previous poster talked about this one has a zipper down the back to make the entering/exiting process much easier. The top of the zipper is fastened with a snap to keep it from opening accidentally. Unfortunately I can't tell you yet how well it works as it hasn't warmed up enough yet here. We should be able to post a review in 2-3 weeks.

I too wanted something that would make my daughter 'pop' if she jumped/fell in the pool. At the on base pools they won't allow ANY flotation device that isn't Coast Guard approved so no kickboard, wings, rings, etc. Most of the lifejackets that we found for my daughter's size were incredibly cumbersome to put on/take off so we snapped this one up when we were visiting the states a couple of weeks ago.

Jen in Okinawa
Mom to Noelle (2 1/3)

06-25-2004, 05:26 PM

Can you tell me the link or where to find the second swimsuit? I think I like this more than the sweater design. I just want to get my daughter used to being in the pool and enjoying the water.