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The 5 Best Swim Devices for Toddlers and Pre-Schoolers

Janine is a published author in Only Trollops Shave Above the Knees, appears on The Huffington Post and at Confessions of A Mommyaholic.

Best swim floaties and safety equipment for kids and toddlers!

Best swim floaties and safety equipment for kids and toddlers!

As the mom of two small kids, who are only 16 months apart, I have my work cut out for me trying to keep them both happy and safe in the summertime. Last year, my in-laws installed a semi-in-ground pool and, of course, all eight grandkids (mine included) are there quite often in the warm summertime weather.

While the pool is definitely an enjoyable way to beat the summer heat, it can be kind of stressful to have small children swimming, so you need to keep a very vigilant eye on them to make sure they're OK. After reading that children age 1-4 have the highest rates of drowning of any other age group, I knew that my eagle eyes wouldn't be enough to make sure they're safe.

So, we outfitted our daughters with some swimming aids. Thankfully, with eight grandchildren at the pool, we were quickly able to compare and contrast the different devices and floaties. Recently, though, It struck me that a lot of parents could use some help figuring all this out. Since we've used a number of them, I thought I'd share my experience here.

I have tried a few different products out there to keep my girls safe in the pool and will share them with you here. I've also become familiar with a few other devices thanks to my nieces and nephews. Here I will review the five that I am most familiar with and that seem to be very popular for the toddler/pre-school age child.


I have either used the below devices on my own children or seen my many nieces and nephews use them.

1. Aqua Leisure Swim School Aqua Tot Trainer with Safety Strap


Great Swim Device for Toddlers

This is manufactured by Swim School Deluxe. The Tot Trainer Inflatable Rubber Tube Swim Aid with Swim Strap ensures a secure fit and is said to be made of heavy-duty nylon construction. It is also a vibrant yellow color for easy visibility. It also allows the child to be able to freely move, permits them to float in an upright or swimming position on either their front or their back and will not tip over. It is for ages 2-4 years. This device will give your little one a bit of extra support with a tube-like effect as well.

2. Learn to Swim Tube Trainer - Orange


Great Flotation Device for Pre-Schoolers

The next flotation device is the Learn To Swim: Swim Tube Trainer. This one is a dependable, yet easy-to-use swimming aid, which has a strong rubber air-filled tube encased in brightly colored nylon. It also allows for freedom of movement, allowing your child to float in an upright or swimming position on his or her front or back.

However, unlike the others, the Tube Trainer has a tank-top design with bottom security strap and is made for the ages of 3 to 6 years. The only color I have seen this one in unfortunately is orange though, so that may be a negative for some kids on this one.

3. Speedo Begin to Swim Fabric Armbands

Great flotation device for toddlers, pre-schoolers, and kids aged 2-12

Great flotation device for toddlers, pre-schoolers, and kids aged 2-12

For the child who has a bit more of confidence while in the pool, I suggest Speedo Begin-to-Swim fabric armbands. These armbands can be inflated to the child's comfort level and are recommended for children aged 2-12. The armbands give just enough flotation for the wearer to feel comfortable as he or she learns to swim. They are made of super soft fabric that are very comfortable when wearing. An added bonus is that they have a UV 50+ block so your child will stay protected from the sun's harmful UV rays. Let me stress, this one is for the child who is a bit more secure in the water, because there is no tube and they are pretty much just modified floaties.

4. Speedo Kid's UV Neoprene Swim Vest


Another flotation device from Speedo is the Speedo Kid's UV Neoprene Swim Vest, which is another great teaching tool that helps kids gain confidence in the water. This vest offers children who are just starting to learn to swim full flotation support. The UV Neoprene Swim Vest can be used by a child who is familiar with the water but is still dependent on full flotation. It offers all of the comfort and safety features as well as important sun protection.

It also comes in bright and colorful prints that kids love to wear. This is the only vest I am looking at, because if you are looking for a vest this one truly is top of the line and works very nicely.

5. Stearns Kids Puddle Jumper Deluxe Life Jacket


The next flotation device is the Stearns Puddle Jumper, which is a vest that fits comfortably over a child's chest, with arm pieces that allows for free range of motion in the water, while still keeping your child safe and out of danger. This one is made for kids between 30 and 50 pounds and is made of soft, but durable and comfortable polyester.

The Puddle Jumper is available in several designs/colors for both boys and girls. This one has modified floaties plus a float device around the waist as well. Best of all, it's Coast Guard approved, meaning that your kid can wear it on the beach. We learned this one the hard way, because most flotation devices are not permitted on the beach, but this one is, because of the Coast Guard seal of approval on it.

I really recommend these because they really did just add that extra level of water safety for both my girls at such a young age during the summer, and really helped both me and my husband feel more comfortable with our girls in the water. All of us were able to relax, enjoy, and have fun. eally did just add that extra level of water safety for both my girls at such a young age during the summer and water months here for both my husband and I. Helping us feel more comfortable with our girls in the water.

Summing it up..

In short, I have either used these devices on my own children or seen my many nieces and nephews use them.

My 2 1/2 year old niece uses the Learn to Swim Tube, as well as the Aqua Leisure Swim School trainer and her parents have loved both for the extra support it gives. Whereas my 3 year old uses and loves the Speedo Arm Bands and is a fish in the water, so these really have been her best friend this past summer. Still my not quite 2 year old uses the puddle jumper, because she still needs a bit of extra support in the pool and this one seems to work perfect for her. We also tried the Speedo vest with my 3 year old, but she prefers the arm bands. Even so, the vest is still a great product and worth looking into if you wanted more of a vest type product for your child.

In short, because each child is different at the pre-school age in terms of his or her comfort in the water and each parent is different in terms of comfort level, you'll want to pick the one that's right for you. But, I think I have given a nice range of swim flotation devices to that can be tried and used by pre-schoolers. The key here is finding one that both you and your child are comfortable with.

I do hope I gave you some much needed food for thought for this swim season as far as swim safety for your child.

Tell Us What You Think


GD on July 29, 2019:

Lee your incorrect sir. Not every 4 year old can be taught how to swim. My daughter is 5 years old and autistic. She does not speak or follow directions very well at all. We have tried and tried to teach her many simple things like toilet training etc with no luck. This is my 4th child and every other child was potty trained and swimming in our pool without any devices by the age of 3. Unfortunately this one is a unique and challenging child that loves the swimming pool. I agree about none of the devices being 100% and every child should be closely monitored by adults at all times however i do not agree with your comments on every child can be taught by 4. You don't think outside the box and understand there are children in this world that are developmentally challenged and cant do what every normal child can!

Rina on September 22, 2018:

This list of floaties has been very helpful. Lee’s comment that parents should give their kids swim lessons is correct but there are kids who still want to go in the pool before they truly learn how to swim so this advice on floaties is helpful. Additionally, Lee mentions that “any 4 year old can be taught how to swim”....sure, I agree but what about the kids less than 4 years old and still going to swim school? Parents should be very responsible when taking their kids to a pool or the beach. I have my daughter in swim lessons and when she’s not in swim lessons then I have one of these floaties for her to use. I still don’t take my eyes off her even with floaties on. So, to this author...thanks for sharing this list.

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on June 23, 2017:

I love hearing this Angie. My girls loved the Puddle Jumper, as well so always recommend to parents of you swimming aged kids :)

Angie on June 22, 2017:

I just bought a puddle jumper and put it on my 2-year-old son to try on...he didn't want to take it off! I'm looking forward to trying this out in the swimming pool. He hasn't yet been around the pool a lot.

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on November 11, 2016:

Happy to share and very much agree about supervision being key, as well, too.

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on November 11, 2016:

Thanks and agree about the puddle jumper as we used it with both my girls when they were first learning to swim here, as well :)

Aquagirl on May 12, 2016:

Great information. As a water safety professional, I love seeing people talking about water safety. One recommendation I give parents is to look for coast guard approved flotation devices, like a puddle jumper. I also have never and will never recommend arm bands or water wings. Many aquatic facilities have banned these devices because they do no assist in keeping the nose and mouth of young swimmers out of the water. My final note would be a child in a floatation device is a non-swimmer. There is no substitute for supervision. Thanks for a great post about water safety. May is National Water Safety Month!

Judy Specht from California on September 06, 2015:

Love the puddle jumper. My grand daughter has one and she is learning to be comfortable on her back in the water. Many other devices don't allow back floating which is the most effective water proofing tool you can teach a tiny kid. A good friend floated her children as soon as she could. The first one could not walk , but could float on her back at nine months. The puddle jumper would have been great for her sister who was afraid to be on her back. When there is no fear it's easy to teach a little kid to float on her back. Nice reviews.

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on June 22, 2014:

Thank you so much Sineas and must admit that I wrote this as a mom just looking for better solutions for my kids at the time. So this one was truly close to my heart and just so happy I could help others with this article.

Sinea Pies from Northeastern United States on June 21, 2014:

What a great list of summer help for our little swimmers!

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on October 30, 2013:

Mel, so glad I could help and seriously know when my girls were this age (when I wrote this almost a year and half ago), I couldn't find anything that gave a concise list with explanations. So, it was my pleasure to write and share. Just glad I could help you!

Mel on October 29, 2013:

As I sit here in my hotel room waiting for miss 18 months to wake from her nap, I am researching floatations devices for husband to buy right now while I wait.

Your blog was extremely helpful & I am very grateful for your advice! :) Thankyou.

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on June 23, 2013:

Totally my pleasure in sharing. I have two little kids and trust me I wrote this with them in mind. I wanted to try to find the best swim safety products out there for them and then when I found them, thought I could share here, too!! Glad this helps you with your own children and thank you for stopping by, commenting and your kindness, too!!

LensMan999 from Trans-Neptunian region on June 23, 2013:

The swim devices mentioned in the hub sounds quite safe for the kids. I am always so worried about kids playing in water. Such devices will give me more inspiration to send my kids play in water. Thanks for sharing this useful hub.

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on June 11, 2013:

Thank you ComfortB and my pleasure in sharing. Just hope this helps other parents of little ones for a safe, happy summer now!!

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on June 11, 2013:

Thank you for the return visit Mary and seriously that just breaks my heart, especially when this can be so avoided. I truly hope more parents read this and will do something to help their little kids be safe this summer. thank you so much again!!

Comfort Babatola from Bonaire, GA, USA on June 10, 2013:

Thanks for sharing this. Great ideas on Swim Devices. Just in time for summer. Voted up and useful.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on June 10, 2013:

Just came back for a reread and to share with my followers. I live in S. Fl. and I can't tell you the number of beautiful children who drown in my area. It breaks my heart. We just had another one last week. While Mom was busy packing boxes to move, her toddler fell into the pool and could not be saved.

Voted UP and shared, Pinned.

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on April 25, 2013:

Thanks Diana and thanks for your concerns. You can definitely ask the company of this product more if you have do indeed have concerns.

diana on April 25, 2013:

great information. The only thing I would worry about is the description on the swim vest. I have been informed that it is not a "flotation device" and solely to be used for a bit more help when learning to swim and should only be worn by children who have some swim skills. I would hate for anyone to rely upon them as a flotation device.

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on September 21, 2012:

Michelle, your dad sounds alike like mine. I actually had a bit of a scare in a pool when I was about 9 or 10 years old. He pretty much threw me right back in so that I would not ever have a chance to let it traumatize me or keep me from going back in the water. Thank you also for sharing, sharing and tweeting too!!

Michelle Liew from Singapore on September 21, 2012:

I agree with Julie on this. There is nothing worse than a poorly made device! When I was young, my dad THREW me into the deep end of the pool to get me to swim. Fortunately, I swam...and well enough to represent the school team later! Thanks for shaing, sharing and tweeting too!

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on August 02, 2012:

Julie, I totally agree with you about the flotation devices that are poorly made. My mother-in-law bought swimmies at the dollar store and they were the worst. I literally tried them on Emma and took them off as quickly as I put them on. Thank you so much for stopping by and for commenting too.

Blurter of Indiscretions from Clinton CT on August 02, 2012:

This is so helpful! This is the first summer I don't need a floatie for my kids, but I'm telling you- there is nothing worse then a poorly made device. Great job!

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on August 02, 2012:

Docmo, I truly wouldn't write about any product for this type of equipment without trying them, because as a mom I want to know that if I buy something that it has been used and comes with good reviews from others, so that is why when the idea came to write something like this I made sure to include products I have used or seen used. I am just truly happy if I am able to help other moms and dads to be able to find and purchase the proper safety flotation equipment for their small children too. Thanks again for your comment and votes too!!

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on August 02, 2012:

Linda, I had never seen the puddle jumper either until my friend whose son is a few months older than Emma mentioned it to me. We were in Target shopping believe it or not and she took me right over to one to show me. IT was the last one they had out and it was pink. Being that I have 2 girls I grabbed it and am so glad I did, because it got me through 2 summers so far, between last year with Emma and now this year with Lily. Emma is more my daredevil believe it or not. Lily, on the other hand, is afraid of her own shadow. So I have a feeling this puddle jumper will last her for the at least another summer or 2 and that is truly getting my money's worth. Thanks again for stopping by and do hope your step-daughter is able to get them for her twin girls.

Mohan Kumar from UK on August 02, 2012:

very useful hub Janine, my youngest is just about graduating from armbands.. these devices are ace. the fact that you have tried and tested some of them and reviewed them in detail is what makes this truly detailed. voted up!

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on August 02, 2012:

I just saw my first ever puddle jumper thanks to your hub! My stepdaughter was telling me last weekend that she needed to get puddle jumpers for her twin girls. I was confused. So what else is new. Anyway she explained what they were, now I really understand. What a great idea for kids! My granddaughter who is almost 6, feared the water until swim classes this summer, she is now a mermaid and very daring. That's a relief! Good luck to you with your girls!:)

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on August 02, 2012:

Mary, I am so glad that this Hub can help others with water safety for the small kids in their lives. I am so happy to pass on the information I have obtained with my two girls on this subject. I happen to love the Puddle Jumper the best for under age 2, because it really is such a good flotation device and the coast guard approval is a huge benefit. Thank you so much for your comment, share and votes too!!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on August 02, 2012:

Great Hub with good info. My Greatgranddaughter who lives with me just turned 1 year old. We have so much water around where I live, canals, rivers, etc. we have enrolled her in toddler swim classes. These flotation devices look like a good idea. No child should drown! We have drowning here in S. Fl all summer long.

I voted this Hub UP, etc.

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on July 26, 2012:

Vellur, so very true about these all being life savers. Thanks for stopping by and for commenting too!!

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on July 26, 2012:

Very useful information. These devices are life savers.

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on July 26, 2012:

Mary, thank you os much for your kind words here. It is so true about every product being advertising like it the best and it was so very much my hope to put out the products that I have had experience with on this topic so as to help others with small kids be able to pick the right product that may work for them. Glad to see that my message was read here! Thank you so much for all your input, votes and shares too!!

Mary Craig from New York on July 26, 2012:

Great hub Janine. Lots of good ideas for keeping kids safe. There are so many things on the market and if you are to believe all the advertising every single thing sold is superlative and works like a charm. Its always good to have some real input!

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on July 25, 2012:

Joseph, I can' t thank you enough for your thoughtful words here about my writing and me too. I really do appreciate your kindness and support over and over.

Joseph De Cross from New York on July 25, 2012:

I might still need them in case I get pushed by friends that won't be friends. Your hub lay out is taking a life of its own. People like variety and innovative writing. You are getting there Janine. Congratulations to your mom for giving birth to a wonderful daughter.

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on July 25, 2012:

Dianna, I originally was introduced to this one by a friend of ours. Her son used it and they loved for the same reason you stated--it did the job well. So I bought and was very impressed especially that it can be worn on the beach, because it is coast guard approved. Thank you for again being so supportive on here, truly is very much appreciated.

Dianna Mendez on July 24, 2012:

I saw a child wearing a puddle jumper the other day and found it did the job well. These are new items and I would buy them if I had a kid this age. Great advice and very well done.

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on July 24, 2012:

Josh, thank you so much for saying such nice things here. I really do appreciate all your continued support. I am glad you felt that I clearly explained this topic and tried very hard to explain it but not over explain and tried to pick the best pictures possible to match with each device. That said thank you so much again for everything. I can say enough how much I appreciate it.

Joshua Zerbini from Pennsylvania on July 24, 2012:


Very informative hub for all those youngins! I enjoyed your pictures and your clear explanations, keep up the great work! Whenever I decide to have a family (LOL) I will definitely be using some of these devices for my kids. Thanks for sharing Janine!

Janine Huldie (author) from New York, New York on July 24, 2012:

Oh Bill if you don't want them to stay afloat there is always dunking contests, lol!!! No seriously sorry couldn't resist. Thank you so much for the comment and the laugh i got from it. Much needed and totally appreciated. This one was just born out of that conversation with my mother's group. I literally seem to come up with ideas and jot down notes everywhere now! Thanks again and totally appreciate all your continued support from you!!!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 24, 2012:

You are a writing machine! I have one question: what if you don't want the kid to stay afloat? Okay, I'm sorry, I didn't mean it. LOL Very useful hub for parents of toddlers, which I'm not thank God! :)