Ah, ah, ah, ah staying afloat, staying afloat…
Whether you are heading to the local pool, or hopping on a plane and flying far away this summer, the chances are that you – or perhaps a friend or family member – have raised a question or two about floatation aids. My mother-in-law very kindly bought my little Nemo some inflatable armbands for her first holiday. Armbands were the floatation aid of choice back when she had young children of her own. Today, though, there are plenty more options available. So, how do you select the best one for your child? In this blog, I chat to Theresa, co-founder and director of Nemo Swimming, to find out more.
Hi, Theresa! Let’s talk floatation aids; what do parents need to know?
Every year, at around this time, I get a new wave of questions from parents: What floatation aid should I buy for my holidays? Which armbands are the best? What alternatives should I be looking at? Let me start by saying that, when used properly, floatation aids are a fantastic tool for helping little ones gain confidence in the water. We, along with many other swimming providers, use them for this very reason in our lessons. Those of you who come to our classes regularly will know that we favour woggles (or pool noodles, as they are sometimes known), and the super-cool SwimFins. There are, though, lots of other options out there – and each of these options has its merits and its drawbacks. Whatever aid you use – no matter how good it is – it goes without saying that you must ensure that you supervise your baby, toddler, or young child in the water at all times. It is important to remember that little ones can drown in even one inch of water – so make sure you’re always by their side.
What are the best floatation aids out there?
That’s easy – the best floatation aid is you, the parent! Whether your little Nemo is just a few months old, or about to start school, they could not ask for a better buoyancy aid than their mummy or daddy. Use some of the holds that your learning in your Nemo Swimming lessons, and invest in some fun toys for the pool – rubber ducks, little fish, watering cans. Let them explore, tell you where they want to go, and what they want to see. When they see you having fun, your little one’s water confidence will come on leaps and bounds – it really will. If it’s usually mummy who attends swimming lessons, spend some time showing daddy what you learn in the pool. It’ll give him a brilliant opportunity for some daddy-little Nemo bonding, and it’ll also allow you to have five minutes to yourself!
Armbands always seem like a popular choice; what are your thoughts on them?
Personally, I’m not a fan. They’re still probably one of the most popular and commonly used floatation aids out there thanks to their low cost and durability. They’re certainly not my first choice, though. Although they do, of course, offer many advantages, armbands can really restrict the movement of children’s arms and, in my experience, some kids will become too dependent on them. This may mean that they find it difficult to move to a different swimming aid at a later stage, which can then hinder their progress. It’s also important to remember that, unless both bands have been inflated equally, your child will have to work harder on one side.
What would you recommend instead?
Depending on the age of your child, woggles and/or SwimFins. Woggles, which are sometimes referred to as pool noodles, are great for all ages – even adults! For your little Nemo, they allow a degree of independence, and can be used to play all sorts of games – underneath the rainbow, horsey horsey, and lazy sunloungers are just a few of the ones that we encourage in our classes. They are low cost, too, and can be picked up from many pound shops, not to mention the likes of Amazon.
For slightly older children – two years plus – I absolutely love SwimFins. We’ve used these in our lessons for many years and our little Nemos think they are great! I mean, what kid wouldn’t want to be a scary shark or a friendly dolphin?! Although they are suitable for children from around 18 months, I’d say that children aged two-and-a-half years and up will get the most benefit from them. Use them under the supervision of your Nemo Swimming instructor first but, once your little swimmer is used to the SwimFin, it’s fantastic.
Any other tips for parents this summer?
The summer really is such an amazing opportunity to help boost your little Nemo’s confidence in the water, and to have lots of fun at the same time. You don’t get many summers with young children, so enjoy them while you can. Take some time to make some memories.
Thanks, Theresa, some great ideas and thoughts here. Don’t forget, we’ll be sharing more hints and tips over the next few weeks to help keep your little ones safe in the water this summer.
Written by Emma, Nemo Swimming