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The Best Swim Floaties for Kids

🕚 Updated April 2023

If you're planning a pool day for you and your kids, a top priority is ensuring they're adequately equipped for safe swimming. These kids' swim floaties are reliable options to take with you and will help ensure your little one keeps their head safely above the water as they're enjoying a swim.

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  Top Choice Best for Babies Best for Arms Best Back Float Best Vest
Original Puddle Jumper Kids' Life Jacket
Baby Swimming Float with Canopy
Kids' Begin to Swim Vinyl Basic Arm Bands
Back Float Safety Swim Trainer
Swim Vest Life Jacket
Our SummaryThis Coast Guard-approved floatie for kids helps your child feel confident and safe in the water.Have fun with your baby in the pool while protecting their skin with this safe floatie.These arm floaties are great for kids who are ready for a bit more independence.This back floatie helps a child learn to swim in a natural position while adding buoyancy.This adjustable vest helps a child feel more confident in the water while also providing UV protection.
Pros✓ Great on the go
✓ Dries quickly
✓ Durable and comfortable
✓ Great value
✓ Extra straps
✓ Air pump included
✓ Great for bigger kids
✓ High quality
✓ Dual air chambers
✓ Great swim teaching tool
✓ Belt fastens tightly
✓ Adjusts for little kids or older kids
✓ Lightweight and compact
✓ Freedom of movement
✓ Secure strap
✓ Soft and comfortable
Cons✗ Kids learning to swim may regress✗ May tip over✗ Difficult to inflate✗ Soft foam may become damaged✗ Not U.S. Coast Guard-approved
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How Did We Research?

16 Models Evaluated

7 Hours Researched

38 Reviews Analyzed

The Best Swim Floaties for Kids

A smiling toddler boy in a yellow floatie swim aid standing in a pool.

Buying Guide for Swim Floaties for Kids

Three young kids in colored swim floaties playing in a pool.

Why buy swim floaties for kids?

When warm temperatures finally start to rise, there’s nothing quite like spending a day at the pool with your family. One of the best ways to help new swimmers feel more comfortable in the water is to invest in high-quality swim floaties. While kids should always be supervised around and in the water, swim floaties can help kids feel calmer and more comfortable while swimming. Many swim floaties also help protect your kids from harmful UVA and UVB rays. Swim floaties come in a wide variety of fits, colors, and designs, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding one that suits the needs of you and your kids.

What should you consider in swim floaties for kids?

  • Materials: To ensure your kids are getting the most out of their swimming experience, invest in swim floaties made with high-quality materials. Look for floaties crafted with sturdy nylon or soft polyester, as these materials are comfortable enough to wear all day yet durable enough to withstand rough play. If you’re looking to protect your kids from harmful sun damage, seek floaties that have been made with UPF-friendly fabrics.
  • Safety Features: While swim floaties are designed to help children feel more comfortable in the water, it’s important to note that your child should already know how to swim before using floaties. Swim floaties are designed to encourage children to become more confident in their swimming abilities; they aren’t meant to teach children how to swim. If purchasing swim floaties within the right context, make sure that the floaties come with safety features that’ll help your child feel more secure while swimming. The floaties should fit snugly to help your child develop proper swimming techniques; they should also come with a safety belt that snaps securely in place to prevent your child from taking the floaties off.
  • Weight Limit: Be sure to check the weight limit on swim floaties before you buy them to ensure they are right for your child. Some floaties are made specifically for babies and toddlers, while others are designed for big kids. Using floaties that are too big or too small for your child is unsafe.

How do you know when your child is ready to swim without floaties?

If your child is learning swim basics without their floaties, that’s good! Floaties help keep kids in an upright position, whereas swimming is not done vertically, save for treading water. With supervision and/or professional lessons, it’s great to get kids in the water to learn at least the basics for survival without their flotation devices. Once your child has mastered swim basics and feels confident in the pool (always properly supervised!), it may be time to remove the floaties for good.

Our Picks for the Best Swim Floaties for Kids

Top Choice

Stearns Original Puddle Jumper Kids' Life Jacket

This Coast Guard-approved floatie for kids helps your child feel confident and safe in the water.

Pros: This is a solid pick for most families. It’s all one piece, so you won’t have to worry about leaving one arm floatie behind or having to find one. It’s great on the go because it dries quickly and won’t leave big puddles in your car. Plus, the material is durable, so you can use it for more than one season as long as your child remains within the weight limit. It’s also comfortable for kids to wear and doesn’t leave marks or scrapes on their skin. And the designs are downright cute.

Cons: Some reviewers have reported that the lifejacket may be too small or too tight for their child, causing discomfort or making it difficult to move their arms. It’s important to ensure that you purchase the correct size for your child to ensure a proper fit and safety. It may be best to try on before purchasing to ensure the correct fit.

Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a swim floatie for your little one, this Coast Guard-approved option is a solid go-to! The adjustable buckle and strap help to create the perfect fit for comfort and safety.


Best for Babies

LAYCOL Baby Swimming Float with Canopy

Have fun with your baby in the pool while protecting their skin with this safe floatie.

Pros: This is a unique pool float. You strap your baby in an upright position with straps on the shoulders and one between the legs. The flotation part wraps around the baby from the front and lifts and supports them comfortably and safely. Compared to similar products, this baby pool float with a canopy is a great value. Your baby can float around next to you securely in the pool. It even comes with a canopy to shade your baby from the sun. Plus, the air pump is included.

Cons: You should never leave your child in this float unsupervised. It’s important to always prioritize water safety, especially when children are involved. While a float may provide some level of support or buoyancy, it is not a substitute for adult supervision or proper swim training. Children can quickly become overwhelmed or disoriented in the water, even with a floatie or lifejacket on, and may not be able to call for help or right themselves if they become flipped or trapped. For this reason, it is crucial to never leave a child unattended while they are using a float, regardless of their age or swim ability. Adult supervision and swim lessons should always be used in conjunction with any type of flotation device, and parents should be vigilant in watching for signs of distress or discomfort in their child while they are in the water. By taking these precautions, parents can help keep their child safe and reduce the risk of water-related accidents or injuries.

Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a swim float for a baby with a sun-protecting canopy, this may be a good choice for you. It comes in giftable packaging, perfect for baby showers. Plus, the canopy is removable for traveling purposes.


Best for Arms

Speedo Kids' Begin to Swim Vinyl Basic Arm Bands

These arm floaties are great for kids who are ready for a bit more independence.

Pros: These classic arm floaties are designed to fit kids ages 2 to 12, with a maximum weight of 110 pounds. The heavy-duty vinyl inflatable arm band design provides an added level of safety and durability, making them less likely to deflate or puncture while in use. In addition, the updated kid-friendly shape is designed to be more comfortable and allow for greater mobility, making them more enjoyable for children to wear. They are also great for helping young swimmers build confidence in the water, as they provide a measure of support while still allowing children to move freely and practice their swimming skills. Additionally, the bright inner fabric makes it easier for parents to keep an eye on their child while they are in the pool, increasing overall pool safety.

Cons: These are difficult for some people to inflate. Additionally, some have reported difficulty inflating the product or that it may not fit all children comfortably. These concerns suggest that this product may not be a reliable or safe choice for all children or situations, and alternative options may be worth considering.

Bottom Line: Overall, these swim floaties appear to be a reliable, durable, and effective choice for parents looking to help their children enjoy the water safely and confidently. They can boost their confidence in the water, but they aren’t as limiting in movement as bulkier options. They’re high quality, lasting through several seasons, and they have dual air chambers for added safety. Given the quality, these are a fantastic value.


Best Back Float

TOYSHARING Back Float Safety Swim Trainer

This back float helps a child learn to swim in a natural position while adding buoyancy.

Pros: This is a fantastic tool to help teach your child to swim. You can remove one block at a time as your child progresses. The belt fastens tightly enough for children as young as three years old to start learning to swim, and it’s long enough for older beginners. It’s compact and lightweight, fitting perfectly into a beach bag or backpack. If you’re looking for a swim float that can help your child build confidence in the water, while also providing a measure of safety and mobility, then these swim floats are definitely worth considering. The updated kid-friendly shape and heavy-duty vinyl inflatable arm band design provide a comfortable fit and added durability, while the bright inner fabric makes it easy to keep an eye on your child in the pool. Additionally, the ability to reduce the buoyancy by removing layers is a great feature that allows children to gradually gain more control and learn to swim independently. Parents can also feel secure knowing that the safety button added to the buckle prevents children from removing the floatation device on their own. Overall, these swim floats appear to be a versatile, durable, and effective choice for parents looking to help their children learn to swim safely and confidently.

Cons: The foam is soft, so it won’t stand up to a lot of rough play without becoming damaged. It’s important to keep in mind that not every child may enjoy or benefit from using these swim floaties. Some children may find them uncomfortable or too restrictive, and it’s important to supervise your child closely while they are using them. Additionally, while the strap can be adjusted for comfort, some reviewers have noted that it can be rough on the skin, which may be a concern for children with sensitive skin. It’s also worth noting that some children may not be able to figure out how to use these floaties effectively and may require additional support or a different type of swim float.

Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a tool to help your budding swimmer, this float may be the answer. It has multiple layers of foam that you can remove one at a time as your child becomes a stronger swimmer. Plus, it’s comfortable and fully adjustable.


Best Vest

Gogokids Kids Swim Vest Float Jacket

This adjustable vest helps a child feel more confident in the water while also providing UV protection.

Pros: One of the best things about life vests is that they allow your child freedom of movement as they’re getting used to the water, and they cover more than just your child’s upper arms. If you’re looking for a swim vest to help your child learn how to swim, this model is a great option to consider. Made from durable neoprene and EPE polyethylene foam, this vest provides buoyancy to help your child stay afloat while they learn how to swim. The adjustable straps and crotch strap ensure a good fit, making it comfortable and secure for your child to wear. Plus, the fun and colorful design will appeal to children, making it a great gift idea for summertime.

Cons: It’s important to remember that even with a swim vest, your child should never be left unsupervised in the water, as accidents can still happen, especially since this vest does not have a floatie on the back near the head, which can cause the child to go under the water when they fall. Additionally, the straps might rub against their child’s legs, causing discomfort or even irritation. Some customers have also noted that the vest is not suitable for use in pools, as it does not meet the watercraft/U.S. Coast Guard-approved standards.

Bottom Line: If you prefer a vest-style float for your child or simply want them to have the best possible range of motion, this model just might be an excellent selection for you. This style is especially recommended for toddlers just getting used to the water.

Final Thoughts

Pool floats for kids come in different styles that serve different functions. If you know your child’s needs, you can make an informed decision when searching for a pool float for kids. And, as a reminder, no matter how great pool floaties may be, children must always be supervised by a responsible adult while in or near the water.

Meghan Herlihy Meghan Herlihy
Meghan Herlihy is a full-time writer for LifeSavvy and How-To Geek and has written across a wide variety of topics, genres, and formats, including radio talk shows, local sports journalism, and creative original fiction. She received her bachelor's degree in communications from Ithaca College and a master's in writing from Johns Hopkins University. When she's not writing, you're most likely to find her reading a book, petting every dog within eyesight, and indulging in her love of travel. Read Full Bio »
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