A Parent’s Guide to Swim Aids: From Floaties to Kickboards

From their first tentative toe-dips to perfecting their paddling technique, your child’s swimming journey is a crucial stage in their physical development. Many parents introduce their children to swim aids — floaties, kickboards, and puddle jumpers — to help them develop their swimming skills. Navigating the world of swim aids can be challenging, especially with the array of options available. Continue reading to learn about various swim aids and their purpose.

What Are Swim Aids?

Swim aids, or flotation devices, are tools designed to assist learners, particularly children, in developing their swimming abilities. It’s important to remember that swim aids are not life-saving devices and should not replace adult supervision. In addition, no swim aid can replace proper swim instruction. Enrolling your child in swimming lessons with certified instructors is crucial to develop their swim skills and instilling a sense of water safety.

Types of Swim Aids

There are many swim aids. A few of the most popular are:

Floaties or Arm Bands

Floaties are inflatable bands worn around a child’s upper arms. They allow free arm movement and are often used to introduce young children to water. However, experts suggest that floaties should only be used under direct supervision because they can easily slip off, especially when children jump into the water.

Swim Belts

Swim belts provide a sense of security without limiting the movement of the arms or legs. The freedom of movement allows children to practice various swim strokes and improve their overall swim skills. Experts caution that, like floaties, swim belts are not life-saving devices and don’t replace the need for adult supervision.

Puddle Jumpers

A puddle jumper combines arm floaties with a chest floatation device to provide stability and buoyancy. Some experts warn that children who use these don’t learn basic water survival techniques, and become dependent on a puddle jumper.


Like swim belts, noodles are less restrictive swim aids, allowing more freedom of movement. Noodles can be used in various ways — under the arms, across the chest, or as a tool to hold onto.


Kickboards are used to develop lower body strength and improve kick technique. Holding onto a kickboard allows children to focus on their leg movements, enhancing their overall swimming ability. They should be introduced and used under the guidance of a swim instructor to ensure proper usage and prevent muscle strain.

How To Choose the Right Swim Aid

When choosing a swim aid for children, consider their age, weight, swimming ability, and comfort. 

Check the Age and Weight Recommendations

All swim aids have age and weight recommendations. Ensure the device is suitable for your child’s age, weight, and swimming ability.

Ensure a Good Fit

A well-fitted swim aid should be snug, but not too tight. Always test the fit before heading to the water.

Prioritize Comfort

If your child isn’t comfortable, they won’t enjoy their time in the water. Choose a device that your child finds comfortable to wear and use.

Look for Quality and Durability

Choose a swim aid made from durable, high-quality materials. Check to make sure that it complies with safety standards.

Safety and Supervision

Considering that drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children one to four, it can’t be overstated that no swimming aid can replace proper swim instruction and constant adult supervision. 

Remember, swim aids are tools and should not be relied upon for child safety. Always supervise children in and around the water, even if they are using a swim aid. Enroll your child in swim lessons taught by certified instructors to ensure they learn the correct swimming techniques and water safety.

Working Together To Prevent Drowning

Children are attracted to water and should have the opportunity to enjoy it. Swim aids can help acclimate children to water, but swimming lessons, water safety instruction, and adult supervision are critical to prevent drowning. 
Together, we can end drowning and save lives and heartache! Take our Water Safety Challenge to measure your family’s water safety competence, and help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep all kids safe.

7 Tips To Minimize the Risk of Drowning While Boating

Boating can be a fun activity with family and friends, but it can also be dangerous if you don’t take safety measures. Boaters should know what they’re doing on the water and how their actions impact those around them. According to the US Coast Guard, there were 658 boating fatalities nationwide in 2021. While that’s a decrease from 2020, it’s still 658 lives lost and mourned by family and friends. Continue reading to learn how to minimize the risk of drowning while boating.

1. Safety First. Always!

Every person aboard a boat should be thoroughly briefed on the importance of being alert and following the rules while boating. In addition, safety rules and measures should be explained to guests before setting off on an outing.

2. Don’t Drink Alcohol While Boating

Alcohol continued to be the leading factor in fatal boating accidents in 2021, accounting for over 100 deaths, or 16% of total fatalities. Just as you should not drink and operate a motor vehicle on the road, the same is true when you’re behind the wheel of a boat.  Alcohol impairs a person’s judgment and can reduce the ability to react quickly in emergencies. 

The rule doesn’t only apply to the captain of the boat, though. Passengers must also be alert and not impaired by alcohol in an emergency. Everyone should remain sober while boating to ensure that everyone stays safe while on the water.

3. Wear a Life Vest

Wearing a life vest on a boat is mandatory regardless of your swimming ability. Where the cause of death was known in the 2021 boating accidents, 81% of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 83% were not wearing a life jacket.

Life vests must be United States Coast Guard (USCG) approved. Look for the USCG stamp inside the lifejacket, alongside sizing and other valuable information.

On calm days, wearing a life jacket might seem like overkill. But it’s hard to predict the weather, and if the wind suddenly picks up and the waves get rough, even the most skilled boater can be surprised and quickly get into trouble. Events can happen quickly and unexpectedly, and boaters might not have time to grab their life jacket before finding themselves in the water. 

Don’t remove your life vest even if you feel it’s too warm or cumbersome. Life vests save lives!

4. Bring Charged Communication Devices 

Having charged communication devices onboard can make an enormous difference when unforeseen situations happen. The ability to contact the coast guard when in distress is crucial. The coast guard monitors very high-frequency radios 24 hours a day to handle emergency situations. So, before embarking on a boating excursion, make sure you have a quality communication device with a  high-frequency range.

5. Avoid Risky Locations

Just as risky locations for swimming should be avoided, the same is true while boating. In many situations, visible sign boards indicate the level of danger in certain areas to prevent boaters that are new to the area from venturing into such spots. A careful boater should be able to decipher the meaning of these sign boards and steer away from these areas. 

6. Take Extra Precautions With Children

Extra precautions should be taken when embarking on boating trips with children due to their curious and adventurous nature. Parents and guardians should communicate certain vital information to prevent accidents and drowning. 

For instance, they should explain the importance of a life jacket and how to use it, staying in the safest part of the boat away from the edge to prevent falling, and other dangerous scenarios such as drowning. 

7. Avoid Unnecessary Distractions

It takes a moment’s distraction for a boat to smash into a rock and capsize or a  few seconds for children to disappear from view. More than one adult must be on a boating expedition when children are onboard.

Boating is a great way to have fun and bond with your friends and family, but it can be dangerous if safety isn’t taken seriously. Safety measures cannot be overemphasized because they are necessary to prevent drowning and other unfortunate circumstances. 

Everyone Can Help Prevent Drowning

Together we can end the heartache of losing a loved one due to drowning. Take our Water Safety Challenge to measure your family’s water safety competence and help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep everyone safe.