On April 15, 2019, La Petite Baleen celebrated 40 years of teaching...Read More
The Problem(s) with Puddle Jumpers … (and any other floatation device that keeps kids vertical)
Swimming, at its most basic, is a horizontal movement through the water. Puddle jumpers, arm floaties and other similar products train little bodies to remain vertical in the water, which is a drowning position. They also teach kids that minimal effort is required in order to stay afloat, which we all know is not true. Keeping our head above water takes skill, practice, and effort! Building that false sense of safety and security could yield dangerous results for children who find themselves in the water without the puddle jumper’s support.
Puddle jumpers are approved as a Type III personal floatation device by the US Coast Guard. They are a better-than-nothing option for conscious floatation, but they should never be used as an alternative to learning how to swim.
Because they are used to being vertical in the puddle jumper, children will instinctively try to remain vertical without it. They won’t know – and they aren’t learning – how to get their body into a horizontal position, either to swim to safety or to roll to their back to float.
Puddle jumpers will not assist a child in floating on their back (they must already know how), nor will they keep an unconscious swimmer’s face out of the water. They are also not approved for use on personal watercraft or in any kind of rough water.
When it comes to swimming, puddle jumpers type floaties are not great because:
- They encourage (by building muscle memory) a vertical body position.
- They restrict arm movement with their bulkiness, causing kids to rely solely on their legs for any kind of forward movement.
For non-swimming children, the best way to build proper swimming muscle memory is to utilize a tube or a long noodle used in a way to allow a more horizontal, tummy-down position.
The best way to keep kids safe in and around water is constant, vigilant supervision by adults, ideally who are competent swimmers themselves (If you’re not, we offer adult lessons!) and additional layers of protection like adequate fencing around pools, alarms, and swimming lessons.
No equipment can replace the safety of being in the arms of an adult.