Best Swim Aids & Pool Toys

This is the same mistake parents make when it comes to water safety. Teach your child to respect and love the water, not fear it. Fear makes the pool a dangerous place.

At each stage in your child's development, different swim aids or swim gear can be useful in building confidence, while giving you some peace of mind.

Infants

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Mommy and Daddy are the best floating aids for an infant. From birth to around 18 months, a child is in the "trust vs. mistrust" developmental stage. According to developmental psychologist Erik Erikson's stages of psychosocial development, this age group is trying to decide whether to trust the environment around them. They are making their first decisions about fear and safety. Since the goal is to have the child enjoy the water and not fear it, the safety of a parent’s chest is the best place for this exploration.

Toddlers

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As your child gets older, she begins searching for a sense of autonomy. As long as you can see each other, she is usually comfortable exploring and playing by herself. When your child hits this developmental stage, then a float like the Baby Tug Boat is appropriate. This floating aid (for children ages 9 to 24 months) has a wide buoyant ring, so the young one cannot flip or pull herself out. The sun-blocking canopy is one of the most important features; sunburns are horrible for a young child, so keep her under the protective umbrella while she plays. A word of warning: Never leave a child in the pool unattended.

Young Children

Pre-Teens & Teens

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Encourage new skills as your child gets older. Kicking, fluid arm strokes and the ability to switch from face in water to face out of water are key characteristics of a strong swimmer. Life vests are the approved swimming aid for learning these techniques. The American Red Cross offers tips on choosing the right life jacket. Another great swim aid for the young swimmer is a dive mask, or set with fins and snorkel. These allow underwater exploration and help build breath and swim confidence.

Adults

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Grown-ups are notoriously lax when it comes to swimming pool accessories and water safety. While you are looking after the little ones, adult non-swimmers need to also keep themselves safe. If you are an adult looking for full-grown pool toys, check out a floating lounge. These swim aids don't require strong swimming skills, but please note that these are not safety devices. If you are an adult who cannot swim, use a life vest, or hold onto a pool noodle, so you can stay within arm's reach of your children.

Related:
Babies in the Pool! Get Ready for Swim Season
When is a Child Ready for Swim Lessons?
Swim Lesson Plans: Swim College


In The Swim makes every effort to provide accurate recommendations based upon current ANSI/APSP/ICC-5 2011 (R2022) standards, but codes and regulations change, and In The Swim assumes no liability for any omissions or errors in this article or the outcome of any project. You must always exercise reasonable caution, carefully read the label on all products, follow all product directions, follow any current codes and regulations that may apply, and consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures. In The Swim assumes no legal responsibility for your reliance or interpretation of the data contained herein, and makes no representations or warranties of any kind concerning the quality, safety, or suitability of the information, whether express or implied, including, without limitation, any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.