It is at this time of year when we are often asked whether it’s ok to use swimming aids for your children on holiday. I think people are concerned that because we don’t use things like armbands in a Turtle Tots class that somehow we don’t ‘approve’. This is certainly not the case, and as parents ourselves we do understand that swimming aids have their place, especially on holiday. Obviously they should not be relied upon, and we always recommend practising lots of the skills we do in classes every time you’re in the pool, but when you’re on holiday and around swimming pools all the time, safety becomes ever more important.
If you are looking for a swimming aid, we would recommend the SwimFin for children over about two-and-a-half-years. The floatation device complies with national safety standards and is a great option for toddlers. Strap the fin on and your child can wear it in or out of the pool, as they love how cool they look in them. They do need some getting used to however, so it’s worth letting your little one practice with them to learn how to move and float in them, and of course you would never be too far away in the pool at any time. Traditional arm bands or disks are a good space-saving option and are suitable for children over 18/24 months (always depending on their weight and build). Just make sure they are tight enough so they don’t fall off. Swim vests are also an option and again you can zip them in and leave them on while your child remains near water, although we wouldn’t recommend having them on the child all the time in the water as they really restrict their movement.
Whilst these aids should not be relied upon, if a child did fall in a pool, it would give you a little extra time to reach them. They also give them the freedom to splash around and have fun in the water. It goes without saying though that NO swim aid is ever 100% safe and the only way to ensure a child’s safety near water is to watch them and stay near them 100% of the time.
Generally we wouldn’t recommend swimming aids for babies under 18-months. Swim seats leave babies with their upper bodies out of the water and can lead to them becoming sunburnt or cold depending on the weather, and they can tip over easily so in my opinion are not the safest option. They also don’t really allow the child to ‘swim’ in the pool at all. Similarly rubber rings offer very little support in the water and are not very safe. If a child lifts their arms they will immediately slip through under the water.
Often in holiday resorts you can buy woggles, so you don’t have to bring one with you, and usually there are shallower pools that the children can play in without needing physical support. As we say though, with or without a swimming aid, you should never be more than an arm’s length from your child when they are in or near the water. And why would you want to be when swimming is the best activity you can do on holiday as a family?!