What Are the Best Swimming Aids for Children?
Swimming aids are essential tools during the process of learning. It gives your child the necessary support to get used to water and learn how to control their arms and legs in a way that will keep them above water. At the same time, swimming aids provide some security in case the little ones get it wrong and are in danger of going under.
There are different types of swimming aids that serve different purposes. Babies for instance cannot rely on their own body strength and need a more sophisticated support. There are companies that offer float suits for babies that do not only serve as swimming aid, but also offer a very high level of sun protection. This item is ideal for the summer and for outdoor use, but it is in fact not a live-saver. Thus, you must be able to grab the baby if the suit turns out to be faulty.
Children who are already able to walk and are learning how to paddle can use inflatable armbands or rings that sit under their arms. These types of swimming aid keep them above water while giving some freedom to individual movement. These swimming aids should only be used in shallow water where the child can stand as they are only useful to keep the upper body above water. If you are planning to take your child into deeper waters (in which you can stand and supervise your child) you may choose a swim seat. This item is similar to the swim ring but supports the child's lower body by acting like a 'seat'. Your child will be able to train their legs without being in danger of drowning. It is also a great way to teach if the lesson's focus is on the legs.
When a child is old enough to learn how to swim properly (usually at the age of 3 or older depending on the child) there may be better types of swimming aids that allow more freedom. Back floats or back bubbles are perfect to guide a learning child and keep the horizontal position that is necessary to learn swimming. The back bubble is either inflatable or an item made of foam float. It is tied around the child's body with the floating part on their back. When the child enters the water, their back is automatically positioned horizontally so that the little one is able to learn arm and leg movements without drowning. Once the movements are learnt, the swimming aid can be removed and the child should be able to support themselves. Often you will find a back float that is made of several foam float layers which can be removed one by one to gradually get the child into holding their own body weight above water.
Finally, a child may only need a floating board or a pool noodle. These items can be positioned to hold certain body parts above water while leaving other parts loose. This is very useful in swimming lessons as the trainer may need to focus on a particular movement or body part to enable the child to swim properly. Thus, if the board or noodle supports the legs, the child is forced to use their arms properly to stay above water.
It is crucial and absolutely important to know that no swimming aid is a live-saver. Only an item that has passed life-saving tests can be used as such. Thus, even if your child has a swimming ring, armband or any other type of foam/inflatable device, you must always be in the immediate vicinity to grab your child when it drowns. You as the trainer or parent are the primary swimming aid.