Best Swim Floaties and Swim Aids for Toddlers

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Before kids learn to swim, they need to get used to being in the water. These are the best swim floaties for toddlers and young kids. All of these swim aids will help your little one get used to the water and help build their confidence so they can feel comfortable enough to learn to swim.

There are different types of floaties available for toddlers and young kids. These include swim aids like float rings, puddle jumpers or paddle pals, swim vests, back floats, buoyant swimsuits, and life jackets.

Best Swim Floaties and Swim Aids for Toddlers

Below is a guide to the different types of swim aids available by age and a comparison of them all so you can choose the best one for your child. Not all of them are U.S. Coast Guard approved, so be sure to look out for that if you need a Personal Floatation Device approved for a watercraft or boat.

Best Swimming Aids for 1 Year Old and Younger

1. Free Swimming Baby Inflatable Baby Swimming Float Ring with Canopy

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Free Swimming Baby Inflatable Float Ring
  • ★【Upgrade】Free Swimming Baby New Upgraded baby swimming float is...
  • ★【Recommended】for babies age 3 months-6 years old,check the size...
  • ★【Convenient & Simple】Folds easily for storage and transport in...

The Baby Swimming Float Ring provides the ideal swimming posture for babies. It allows your baby to learn to kick in a horizontal position instead of the typical vertical as in most pool float rings. The raised front and wide sides prevent flipping. 

The bottom has soft support, so your baby doesn’t slide out. There is also a bottom safety buckle, shoulder straps, and a soft chest area to protect your babies belly. The removable canopy has UPF 50+. The Free Swimming Baby Inflatable Float Ring is the best swimming aid for babies 1-year-old and under. 

What we like

  • Portable
  • Keeps baby horizontal
  • Removable canopy

What we don’t

  • It can flip over

2. Laycol Baby Swimming Float Inflatable Float Ring with Sun Protection Canopy

Sale
Laycol Baby Inflatable Float Ring
  • 【Removable Canopy】The baby float for pool come with a breathable...
  • 【Baby-safety material】Made of durable leak-proof PVC...
  • 【Multi-Flod Safety Protection】Double-layered Air Chamber,Raised...

The Baby Swimming Float Ring with Canopy is designed to help babies feel more comfortable in the water. Before you can teach a baby to swim, they need to be comfortable in the water. The removable canopy provides UPF 50+ sun protection, and the sides are mesh for visibility. 

It is made of leak-proof PVC material that has passed all CPC standards, making it safe and non-toxic for your baby’s skin. The softback support goes under the baby’s bottom to prevent them from slipping out. There is also a 5 point safety protection that allows one-click to release your baby from the float. 

What we like

  • Allows for 2 swimming directions
  • Canopy with mesh sides
  • Keeps babies horizontal when on their tummy

What we don’t

  • Users had pump break easily

Best Floaties for Toddlers Under 30 lbs

3. Stearns Infant Puddle Jumper Life Jacket

Stearns Infant Puddle Jumper
  • US Coast Guard Type II approved
  • Crosstech tech flotation
  • Leg straps

The Stearns Infant Puddle Jumper is a US Coast Guard-approved infant life jacket. You can use it for infants or toddlers less than 30 lbs. The head support ensures face-up flotation. It is made with Crosstech flotation foam. There are leg straps and a grab handle for extra safety. 

Now little ones can have fun on the boat, too, with the Stearns Puddle Jumper Infant Life Jacket. The material is soft and lightweight, so it is comfortable for all-day wear. There is a buckled side opening and zippered back, so you can easily put it on and take it off your baby. This is not a device to leave your child unattended. They should be under supervision at all times. 

What we like

  • Coast Guard Approved
  • Great for infants
  • Comfortable

What we don’t

  • if they fall face first, it doesn’t flip them onto their back

4. Vsaten Back Float Swim Trainer Swim Belt 

Vsaten Back Float Swim Trainer
-Great for Beginner Swimmers
-3 Adjustable Thickened Split Layers
-Made of high quality EVA environment-friendly material under high pressure refining

The Vsaten Back Float is great for beginner swimmers. It is a little more advanced than a puddle jumper because it does not restrict hand movements. It forces kids to use their arms more to stay afloat. The layers are adjustable and can be removed as your child improves their swimming skills. 

The foam is durable and high density, so it is very buoyant but won’t be easily smashed or torn by kids. Also, it does not absorb water. Fits kids age 1-year-old to 7 years old. You can add in a kickboard to help your kids learn faster how to swim. 

What we like

  • It doesn’t restrict hand movements.
  • Removable layers
  • Thick, durable foam layers

What we don’t

  • Clasp and straps are not very durable

5. Body Glove Paddle Pals Life Jacket

Body Glove Paddle Pals Life Jacket
-A U.S. Coast Guard Approved Learn to Swim Life Jacket
-The Safety Shoulder Harness ensures your child won't take off the life jacket without parental help
-Fits Children 30-50 lbs with an adjustable chest strap

The Body Glove Paddle Pals Life Jacket is a U.S. Coast Guard Approved “Learn to Swim” life jacket with attached armbands. It has a safety shoulder harness, so your child can’t easily remove the vest without parental help. The shoulder harness also prevents the vest from sliding and prevents chafing. 

This Paddle Pal is an approved Type III Child’s PFD for recreational boating. Your kids will love the comfortable fit and the fun designs. It helps keep your child’s head safely above water while learning to swim. Recommended for child 30-50 lbs. 

What we like

  • Coast Guard Approved
  • Shoulder harness
  • Lots of designs

What we don’t

  • not for smaller children

6. Speedo Child Swim Flotation Life Vest

Sale
Speedo Child Swim Vest
  • Swim Level 2: Water Confidence - These products provide the tools to...
  • UV50+ Block the Burn protection from the sun's harmful UVA and UVB...
  • Soft, durable neoprene construction for warmth and buoyancy

The Speedo Child Life Vest will give your little one confidence in the water while learning to swim. The vest has UV50+ protection. The soft neoprene is durable and comfortable while being very buoyant. The front zipper makes for an easy on and off. There is also a safety closure to ensure the zipper stays upright. 

This is a great learn to swim vest for beginners. It is made to be comfortable and easy to wear while making your child comfortable in the water. There is also a safety strap on the bottom to keep it from riding up. 

What we like

  • Safety strap
  • Great for beginning swimmers
  • Lightweight and thin 

What we don’t

  • Rides up around the neck

7. Stearns Original Puddle Jumper Life Jacket

Stearns Puddle Jumper Life Jacket
  • Brand New Kids Coleman Stearns **Puddle Jumper Life Jacket** Green in...
  • For children 30 50 lbs.
  • Coast Guard Approved

Stearns Puddle Jumper has been tested and is approved by the U.S. Coast Guard as a Type V/III PFD. They meet the requirements for use on boats and watercraft. The Puddle Jumper is a kid’s life jacket that has buoyant armbands attached to the chest. They fit snugly for safety but still allow kids to move freely in the water. 

The Stearns Original Puddle Jumper is great for beginner swimmers. It gives kids confidence while in the water and learning to swim. The strap is adjustable and tightens to fit your child. It clasps in the back so your child can’t take it off themselves in the water. Fits kids 30 to 50 lbs. 

What we like

  • Coast Guard Approved
  • Adjustable
  • Lots of designs

What we don’t

  • Not for chunky arms

Best Swim Vest for 6 year old 

8. SwimSchool Swim Trainer Vest

SwimSchool Swim Trainer Vest
  • SWIM TRAINER VEST: LEVEL 2 PROMOTES CONFIDENCE & PLAY: Swim Trainer...
  • FLEX-FORM, ADJUSTABLE, SECURE FIT: Swim Vest is easy to wear with...
  • BUILT-IN FLEX-FORM FOAM PADS: Balanced flotation and designed to place...

The SwimSchool swim trainer vest supports your child and helps them feel secure and comfortable in the water. It has a chin-up collar that helps keep your child’s head above water. Later the collar can be removed and used as a collect toy for swim practice. 

The soft fabric is comfortable to wear, and it is designed to help propel your child through the water while encouraging them to use their arms and legs. The fabric is UPF 50, so your child’s neck, shoulders, and upper arms are protected from harmful rays. It is recommended for ages 4-6, or up to 50lbs. 

What we like

  • UPF 50
  • Removable chin collar
  • Balanced floatation for the perfect swim position

What we don’t

  • Rides up easily, can cause chaffing

Floaties vs Swim Vests

Floaties are usually the most common swim aid we think of when it comes to young kids. The old-school style was just a blow-up floaty on the upper arms to help your child stay afloat in the water—the new style, also known as a puddle jumper or paddle pals.

These are a type of floatation device that has chest and arm floatation support. The chest panel has flotation foam inside, and the arm floaties connect to the chest panel. They typically buckle in the back with a strap that can be tightened or loosened. 

Swim vests are also considered a swim aid. They are designed to help children feel more comfortable in the water and help them learn to swim. The Coast Guard does not approve them because they are not guaranteed to keep a head above water. These are best for children learning to swim with close adult supervision. 

What’s the difference between a life jacket and swim aids?

Life jackets are made to keep your head above water and are used as a safety measure on board a boat or watercraft most of the time. Life jackets are required by law for children under 13 when they are in a watercraft. Therefore, most life jackets are approved by the US Coast Guard and tested to make sure they perform as expected. 

Swim aids are tools that help a child learn to swim. Most of them are not approved by the Coast Guard as life-saving devices. Swim aids can be puddle jumpers, swim vests, pool noodles, kickboards, inflatable rings, inflatable armbands, and buoyant swimsuits. 

best toddler swim floaties

Life Jackets vs Swim Vests

A life jacket is a personal floatation device that is made of buoyant material. There are 2 different types of life jackets: type II are bulky and more buoyant; these are good for children that do not know how to swim. Type III is not as buoyant and is a lot less bulky; these are good for children that know how to swim. They will keep your head above water but won’t flip you on your back like the bulkier type II.

Swim vests are swim aids to help children feel more comfortable in the water. They are a lot thinner than a life jacket and do not guarantee that they will keep your head above water. That is why most of them are not approved by the Coast Guard. Swim vests are tools that you should use with adult supervision while the child is learning to swim. 

FAQ’s for Floaties for Toddlers

What flotation device is best for 2-year-old?

The best flotation device for a 2-year-old is the Stearns Original Puddle Jumper. They come in a lot of different designs and are Coast Guard Approved. They fit kids from 30-50lbs. But, it can tighten around the chest to fit children if they are slightly under 30lbs.

Stearns Puddle Jumper Life Jacket
  • Brand New Kids Coleman Stearns **Puddle Jumper Life Jacket** Green in...
  • For children 30 50 lbs.
  • Coast Guard Approved

Are swim floaties good for toddlers?

Swim floaties are great for toddlers because it gives them confidence and a little independence in the water. Parents or caregivers should never leave a toddler unattended in the water, no matter what type of floatation device they are using. Toddlers, however, love the freedom of wearing floaties because they can move around in the water without mom or dad always holding onto them. 

What is the best swim aid for a toddler?

There are some things you need to consider before choosing the best swim aid for your toddler. Here are some points to go over before choosing the best one. 

  • Size- what is the weight limit for this device
  • Material- Is it comfortable for their skin
  • UV protection- does it provide any protection from UV
  • Coast Guard Approved- if you are going on a watercraft, the swim aid needs to be approved as a type I or type II PFD
  • Skill level- is your child just starting in the water, or do they have a little confidence in the water already and just need a little boost

What is the safest swim vest for toddlers?

There is a small version of the SwimSchool Swim Vest reviewed above. This one is great for toddlers under 33 lbs. Typically for kids 2-4 years old.

SwimSchool Trainer Vest for Toddlers 2-4 years old
  • SWIM TRAINER VEST LEVEL 2 PROMOTES CONFIDENCE & PLAY Swim Trainer Vest...
  • FLEX-FORM ADJUSTABLE SECURE FIT Swim Vest is easy to wear with padded...
  • BUILT-IN FLEX-FORM FOAM PADS Balanced flotation and designed to place...

Can you use a puddle jumper on a boat?

Puddle jumpers are a combination of a life jacket, swim aid, and swim vest. They are for small children, usually between 30-50 lbs. They keep the chest and arms afloat that helps kids be in a typical swimming position. 

Only a few puddle jumpers are U.S Coast Guard approved and can be used on a boat. The Body Glove Paddle Pals and the Stearns Original Puddle Jumper are great options for toddlers on a boat. For infants, the Stearns Infant Classic is approved for use on a boat or watercraft.

What different types of puddle jumpers are available?

A puddle jumper is a type of floatation device that has chest and arm floatation support. There are many different types, and they all have different characteristics and features.

  • Standard Puddle Jumper- chest panel with flotation foam inside. The arm floaties connect to the chest panel; they typically buckle in the back with a strap that can be tightened or loosened. 
  • Shoulder Strap Puddle Jumpers- puddle jumper with shoulder straps to help the puddle jumper from loosening in the water. 
  • Zip-Up Puddle Jumpers- instead of a back buckle strap, some have a zipper. Some are just a zipper, so you need to choose the right fit. Others are in conjunction with buckles to tighten or loosen once zipped. 
  • Swimsuit Puddle Jumpers- they look like swimsuits but have floatation panels built-in. 
  • Rashguard Puddle Jumpers- these puddle jumpers have UV protection built into the life vest design. 

Are there learn-to-swim vests available for kids over 50 lbs?

Yes, there are swim vests for kids over 50 lbs that are learning to swim. Here are a few great options.  

Are there learn-to-swim vests for adults?

Yes, there are swim vests for adults. The Rrtizan Swim Vest for Adults is a buoyant aid swim jacket. Great to use for low-impact water sports or as an aid for learning to swim. 

Sale
Rrtizan Swim Vest for Adults, Buoyancy Aid Swim Jackets - Portable Inflatable Snorkel Vest for Swimming, Snorkeling, Kayaking, Paddle Boating and Other Low Impact Water Sports Safety(Blue, S-M)
  • 🏊【Inflatable Snorkel Jacket】- Rrtizan snorkel vest is made of...
  • 🏊【Large Buoyancy & Inflated Fast】- When you want extra buoyancy...
  • 🏊【Adjustable Straps】- Suitable for children and adults between...

There is also the X Xben swim belt for adults. It is an inflatable training aid that goes around the waist and is perfect for a beginner swimmer. 

Sale
X XBEN Swim Belts for Kids and Adults, Inflatable Swimming Pool Float Training Aid, Swim Belt with Buckle, Perfect for Learning Swimming Beginner
  • 🏊‍♂️🏊🏊‍♀️[Professional Swim Rings and Perfect for...
  • 🏊‍♂️🏊🏊‍♀️[Portable and Super Convenient] -...
  • 🏊‍♂️🏊🏊‍♀️[Comfortable to Wear and Easy to Wear...

What’s the best way to clean a puddle jumper type swim aid?

Be sure to drip dry before stowing away. They are machine washable, but frequent washing can break down the waterproof qualities of the puddle jumper fabric. If you feel like it needs re-waterproofing, you can use Nikwax Spray On.

How do you make it easier to take off puddle jumpers? 

The best way I found to take off a puddle jumper easily is a liberal amount of sunscreen. Sunscreen can help ensure the armbands don’t get stuck and easily slide on and off. Apply sunscreen all the way up the arms before putting on the puddle jumper. It acts as a barrier and, when wet, makes their arms slippery, making the puddle jumper easier to slip off. 

Conclusion

Floaties are a great aid in helping kids learn to swim. There are many different types of swim aids that you can use. We commonly think of pool float rings or inflatable armbands when we hear floaties for kids. However, there are a lot of different options available.

For infants 1 and under, float rings that help your child stay in a horizontal position are great for getting your little one used to the water. It keeps them in a position that is perfect for learning to swim.

Toddlers have many options for swim aids, including puddle jumpers or paddle pals, swim belts, swim vests, and life jackets. The best type for your child depends on your child’s comfort level in the water and skill level at swimming.

Older kids or even adults can use a swim vest to give them extra confidence in the water. Swim vests give them the freedom to move around but keep them more buoyant.

Don’t forget these Swimming Safety Tips when you are out in the water this summer

  • Always know where the lifeguards are located near where you are swimming
  • Only swim in designated areas that lifeguards supervise
  • Never leave a young child unattended near water
  • Teach your children to ask before going near the water
  • Maintain supervision at all times when near the water
  • Wear plenty of sunscreen and reapply if out for a long period of time
  • Stay hydrated
  • Keep young children in a life vest or swim aid when around water.
Best Swim Floaties and Swim Aids for Toddlers
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