The 10 Best Baby Swim Floats to Buy in 2021

The 10 Best Baby Swim Floats to Buy in 2021

Feel like your little one is ready to hit the pool? Then you’re going to need a baby swim float. A swim float will ensure your little one’s first experience is fun and comfortable, and it’ll also help build their confidence in the water.

In today’s market, baby swim floats come in a wide range of styles, sizes and shapes – some even feature exciting built-in toys to keep your child entertained! Though, with so many options, figuring out the best swim float for your baby can feel like battling against a high tide; an impossible, exhausting task. But don’t worry, we’re here to lend a hand, so it’ll be clear sailing from now on!

What to Look for in a Baby Swim Float

Today we’ll be going over the best baby swim floats to buy in 2021, and in our comprehensive guide below, we’ll be helping you discover exactly which float is best for you and your baby’s needs. But before we let the current sweep us up, let’s first look at the main factors to consider when buying a swim float.

Size

The first thing you need to check before purchasing a baby swim float is its size; if you purchase a swim float that’s too big, it could pose a serious safety hazard – your baby could slip out of it and fall into the water.

Recommended Age

Even if your baby fits in the float, you shouldn’t forget about what age the float is designed for. Floats designed for older babies typically have seats that rest lower into the water and fewer straps (gives more freedom of movement). These aspects can be dangerous for a young baby.

We talk more about the importance of considering your baby’s age when buying a float in our full guide further down.

Weight Limit

Not every swim float details its weight limit (unfortunately), but if the information is available, it’s important to pay attention to it – you don’t want a float that will sink under your baby’s weight! Even where the weight capacity has not been described, we’ve made sure only to select floats that accommodate the average weight of their advertised age range.

Comfort

Your baby will likely be spending a fair amount of time in their swim float, so it’s crucial the float is comfortable; there should be no material or protruding sharp edges that could scratch them, and the leg holes shouldn’t rub harshly against their delicate skin.

Sun Protection

If you’re planning to take your little one to an outdoor pool, a swim float that provides sun protection is a must. Sun protection is especially important for babies under six months (we explain why in our full guide).

Plenty of floats in our list come equipped with a built-in canopy that will keep your baby shaded from the sun. The best built-in canopies offer SPF (sun protection factor) of 50+, are detachable and have transparent sides.

50+ sun protection helps make sure the sun doesn’t harm your baby through the canopy, and a removable canopy is great for indoor and outdoor use; it provides sun protection for your baby when they’re in an outside pool, but can be removed and kept out of the way when they’re inside.

Meshed sides won’t block vision, so you’ll be able to see your baby easily and maintain eye-to-eye-contact no matter the angle.

Safety Features

Safety valves, seat straps, built-in handles – a baby swim float can have a whole range of features that will help keep your little one safe. We’ve made sure to cover the safety features of each product we review. If you’re not familiar with some of the more uncommon safety features (like safety valves), here’s a brief explanation of their purpose:

  • Safety Valves – Prevents air leakage while your baby is using the float.
  • Dual Air Chambers – Provides more stability.
  • Repair Patch – Allows you to easily mend a rip or tear.

Now you know the vital factors to look for in a baby swim float, let’s dive into our reviews – get ready for some splashtastic fun!

Top 10 Best Baby Swim Floats 2021

1. Best Overall Baby Swim Float: SwimWays Baby Activity Float

SwimWays Baby Activity Float

Why we like it: With its fun interactive play station, this sturdy float is perfect for building your baby’s motor skills and confidence in the water.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Size: 34″L x 30″W x 20.5″H
  • Recommended Age: 9 – 24 months
  • Sun Protection: Yes

Does your little one have a case of the water wobbles? If so, the SwimWays Activity Float might be able to help them overcome their fear – it makes pool time a highly enjoyable experience, as it has a built-in play station featuring several fun, adorable and interactive toys. Plus, each toy is unique and requires your baby to interact with it in a different way. This makes the float perfect for improving your baby’s fine motor skills.

Another great aspect of this float is that it’s covered in a fabric layer that protects the inflatable part from damage. It also has a removable meshed canopy, which offers 50+ sun protection. The canopy can be adjusted (to two positions), ensuring your little one will always be shaded from the sun.

This float is hassle-free and boasts great portability – it has a fantastic snap and store feature, is compact when folded, and it comes with a storage bag.

Safety Features

This pool is not just all fun and games – it’s got plenty of safety features, including safety valves and dual air chambers. It even has an innovative inner spring that helps to keep the float stable.

Comfort

If your baby has extra-sensitive skin, this float is a great option: the seat and leg holes are made out of a gentle mesh material, and the fabric that covers this float is soft to the touch.

Though the meshed seat does have some stretch, it tends to drop lower into the water when a baby is sat in it. Due to this, the seat may bring some babies (particularly small tots) a little too deep into the water, which can make for an uncomfortable (and potentially dangerous) experience. If you want to avoid this possibility, the SwimWays Baby Spring Float will keep your baby out of the water.

Pros

  • Fun play station with toys
  • Plenty of safety features, innovative inner spring
  • Removable, adjustable canopy with meshed sides and mesh seat
  • Covered in soft fabric
  • Great portability, folds easily and comes with storage bag

Cons

  • For some, seat can be too deep

2. Best Premium Swim Float: Mambobaby Float

Mambobaby Float

Why we like it: This durable float can grow with your baby and boasts a fantastic range of safety features.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Size: 19.69″L x 18.89″W x 5.91″H
  • Recommended Age: 3 – 24 months
  • Sun Protection: Yes

If you’re looking for a float your child can grow with, the Mambobaby Float is your best bet; it has a highly adjustable harness that can accommodate your little one up to the age of 2. The float’s versatile design also allows for two positions: your baby can lie backwards, or they can lie facing forward.

Unlike inflatable floats, the Mambobaby Float doesn’t rely on air; it’s made from a buoyant pearl-foam material, meaning if it gets punctured you can rest assured it will still maintain buoyancy in the water. Plus, this float is covered in a quick-drying cloth that protects the foam from scratches and tears. The cloth also helps to stop the float from getting too hot under the sun.

This float comes with water toys, a removable mesh canopy, and has two color options (green and pink). It even has a cute cartoon animal face printed on its front (the green version has a dinosaur while the pink version has a unicorn).

While this float boasts easy set up (you don’t need to inflate it), it can be a little inconvenient to store as it can’t be folded up and made compact. That said, you do get a waterproof storage bag with your purchase.

Safety Features

The Mambobaby Float boasts an exceptional range of safety features, including a secure harness vest that has sturdy buckles, and an attachable tail that helps to prevent the float from flipping over. Moreover, it’s exceptionally stable thanks to its widened sides and heightened front.

Unsurprisingly, all these features make the Mambobaby Float the perfect option for a little one who’s a wriggler.

Comfort

As we mentioned earlier, this float is covered in a layer of cloth. While the fabric protects the foam material, it’s also exceptionally soft, so your little one is sure to find this float comfortable.

This float’s raised front is padded, so it can function as a cozy headrest. This makes the float ideal for babies that tend to lean back, or aren’t able to hold their head up.

Pros

  • Grows with your baby and has a canopy with meshed sides
  • Extremely durable
  • Exceptional range of safety features
  • Comes with waterproof storage bag and toys
  • Quick-drying cloth layer, padded straps and back
  • Two color options, plus cute cartoon animal face

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not the easiest to store

3. Best Swim Float for Young Babies: SwimWays Baby Spring Float

SwimWays Baby Spring Float

Why we like it: This float’s soft seat and three-point harness ensure your little one will have a comfortable and secure experience.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Size: 34″L x 30″W x 20.5″H
  • Recommended Age: 3 – 9 months
  • Sun Protection: Yes

SwimWays is one of the most established brands when it comes to swimwear and gear, so it’s no surprise another one of their products is featured so highly on our list. Although this float and the SwimWays Activity Float are both the same size, share similar features and have a removable canopy, they do have some noteworthy differences.

While the SwimWays Activity Float’s seat drops down into the water, this float has a raised seat that your baby can lie down and rest in. This makes it ideal for young babies who can’t sit up, and also the perfect option if you want to get your baby used to the water’s motion, but don’t want them to get into the pool itself.

Keep in mind although this float keeps your baby out of the water, they may get a little wet – water tends to enter and fill into the seat.

Safety Features

Another difference is that this float comes with a secure 3-point adjustable harness

and built-in handles. The 3-point adjustable harness will keep your baby safe and secure even if they wriggle about, while the built-in handles allow you to maintain a strong grip on the float.

Of course, this float has all the safety features the Activity Float has, such as the patented inner spring and dual air chambers.

Comfort

This float is padded and covered with soft fabric, so it’s sure to put your baby at ease. In fact, it’s so comfortable you can even use it as a bed for your baby to nap in when they’re not in the pool!

Be aware that babies tend to lean to one side in this float’s seat (no support to keep them in the center), which can be uncomfortable for some tots.

Pros

  • Extremely comfortable
  • Keeps baby (mostly) dry
  • Secure three-point harness
  • Built-in handles and comes with storage bag
  • Wide range of safety features and a removable mesh canopy

Cons

  • Doesn’t keep your baby entirely dry
  • Seat makes baby lean to one side

4. Best Swim Float for Learning to Swim: Free Swimming Float

Free Swimming Float

Why we like it: This float will prepare your little one for their first swimming lesson.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Size: 21.65″L x 18.11″W – 23.2″L x 20.47″W
  • Recommended Age: 3 months +
  • Weight Limit: 11 – 48 lbs
  • Sun Protection: Yes

Hoping to prepare your baby for their first swimming lesson? Then the Free Swimming Float has got you covered – its design lets your baby splash and kick about with ease in a natural swimming position (front-facing, lying on tummy).

Another great feature of this float is its built-in bells. The bells make soothing sounds with every movement, ensuring your little one will feel relaxed while they float about.

The Free Swimming Float comes in a wide range of sizes and accommodates babies up to 48 pounds, so you’re sure to find a size perfect for your little one. The removable sun canopy offers fantastic coverage, plus it has see-through sides.

This float is easy to inflate, and it comes with a convenient small hand pump. Keep in mind that while useful, the hand pump doesn’t have the best durability, and it may break with frequent use.

Safety Features

Is your little one a bundle of energy? Then you’ll appreciate this float’s adjustable shoulder straps and secure bottom support – it prevents your baby from slipping out if their kicking and splashing gets a little too energetic!

However, be aware that the straps and bottom support are connected and held together by a buckle, and the buckle isn’t the strongest. Although unlikely, it may come undone if a strong baby persistently twists and turns.

If your baby is a strong wriggler, the Mambobaby Float is better suited.

This float has a raised front, meaning your little one’s head will always be above water level. It also has safety valves, dual air chambers and widened sides. The widened sides help to keep the float stable and reduce the chance of it flipping over.

Comfort

This float has a padded chest support area, so your baby will feel comfortable no matter how much time they spend lying on their tummy. Plus, the straps are soft, lightweight and don’t dig into your little one’s skin.

Pros

  • Removable canopy and built-in bells
  • Comfortable padded chest support area
  • Wide sides, raised front, dual air chambers and safety valves
  • Shoulder straps and bottom support
  • Range of sizes

Cons

  • Included hand pump not the best quality
  • Buckle could be stronger

5. Best Budget Baby Swim Float: Intex My Baby Float

Intex My Baby Float

Why we like it: For the price, you can’t get better: it’s sturdy, easy to inflate, and it even has a built-in backrest.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Size: 26.5″ Diameter x 8″H
  • Recommended Age: 1 – 2 years
  • Weight Limit: 33 lbs
  • Sun Protection: No

This budget-friendly no-frills float is hassle-free to inflate and a breeze to fold up. Plus, it’s fairly spacious, so your baby will be able to move their arms and legs relatively easily. This makes it perfect for babies wanting to explore the water more, and the extra freedom of movement will help build their gross motor skills.

However, it doesn’t come with a canopy, so it’s not ideal for outdoor use (since it offers no sun protection). If you plan to take your baby to an outside pool, we strongly recommend you go for a float with a canopy, like the Free Swimming Float.

Safety Features

This float is very stable thanks to its dual air chambers and large outer ring and inner ring design. This makes it ideal for a tot who can’t help but rock the float.

Comfort

This float comes equipped with an inflatable pillow backrest for your baby, so they’ll be able to lean back comfortably. The cut-out leg holes are smooth against your baby’s skin. However, the holes are on the small side, so they may be too tight or too small for some babies’ legs.

Be aware that the seat is quite deep, so it’s not suitable for a small baby – the water will likely go up to their neck.

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Gives freedom of movement
  • Easy to inflate and fold
  • Stable design; dual air chambers and two rings
  • Inflatable backrest

Cons

  • Leg holes fairly small
  • Seat deep

6. Cutest Swim Float: Peradix Baby Float

Peradix Baby Float

Why we like it: If your little one loves animals, they’ll definitely love the Peradix Baby Float – it’s shaped like a whale!

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Size: 28.7″L x 25.2″W x 25.2″H
  • Recommended Age: 3 months – 3 years
  • Weight Limit: 35 lbs
  • Sun Protection: Yes

Wanting a stylish inflatable float that will make your child look adorable? Then search no further – the Peradix Baby Float is shaped like a cute whale, so your child will quite literally be swimming like a fish! Plus, as it looks like a whale, an animal-loving baby is sure to fall in love with this float the moment they set their eyes on it. It comes in two colors (blue or orange), both are bright and eye-catching.

Besides adorable looks, this float has plenty of other noteworthy pros. It has a built-in honking steering wheel that makes for interactive play. The Peradix Float is also perfect for those who plan to take their baby to the beach: it comes with sand play molds, an adjustable removable canopy and even a sunhat!

That said, be aware that the sun canopy can be easily moved out of a place. If your baby is fairly tall (and likes to grab things), they’ll be able to reach up and push the sun canopy back.

This float boasts great durability – it’s much thicker compared to other inflatable floats on the market, making it able to withstand a baby that plays rough. Even the seat is thick and durable.

Safety Features

With this float you get a handy repair patch, so if a rip does occur you’ll have a way to quickly (and safely) patch it up. The float’s “flippers” help to keep the float stable, and it also has a safety valve. The seat is very safe, as it’s reinforced with three layers.

This float lacks straps, and the seat is spacious. While this enables your infant to move freely, it might be too much freedom for a curious baby – if they lean too far forwards, it could potentially cause the float to flip over. That said, this float does come with two convenient built-in handles, which will give you full control.

Comfort

The seat is comfortable, and it doesn’t dip too low into the water. This float also offers some back support, though it doesn’t provide as much back support as the Intex My Baby Float does.

Pros

  • Durable and environmentally-friendly
  • Cute design; shaped like a whale and comes in two colors
  • Ideal for the beach: adjustable, removable canopy, sunhat and sand molds
  • Handy repair patch, flippers, safety valve
  • Built-in steering wheel, interactive fun

Cons

  • Canopy a little flimsy
  • Seat a bit too spacious

7. Most Chew-Proof Swim Float: SwimWays Baby Tug Boat

SwimWays Baby Tug Boat

Why we like it: This extremely durable float is chew-proof, shaped like a boat and grows with your child.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Size: 29″L x 22.5″W x 26″H
  • Recommended Age: 9 – 24 months
  • Sun Protection: Yes

Have a little one who can’t resist biting everything they find? Then the SwimWays Baby Tug Boat will be your savior. Unlike most other floats, this float is made of hard plastic (which is exceptionally durable and chew-proof!), so no matter how much your child chews on it, it won’t get damaged or break.

This float is also shaped like a boat and even has a built-in steering wheel! If your little one is a vehicle lover, they’ll definitely appreciate this float. Plus, this float will likely stimulate their creativity as they can imagine they’re “driving” the boat in the pool.

The SwimWays Baby Tug Boat comes with various bell toys that make sounds. The toys are securely attached, so there’s no chance of your baby throwing them off the float.

The float has an adjustable seat (four positions), meaning as your child grows you can alter the seat to accommodate their size. It also has a bottle holder where you can store your baby’s drink. Though, if your child loves to rock the boat, you probably shouldn’t use this holder – the bottle (and its contents) will likely end up in the pool by the end of the day.

This float does come with an attachable fabric canopy, but unfortunately, the canopy is on the flimsy side, and it doesn’t cover the float fully.

While easy to set up (no inflating required), the float’s design does feature some graphics (like the smiling face at the front of the boat) which are actually decals you have to stick on manually. As they’re simply stuck on, they will likely fall off over time.

Safety Features

This float has raised sides that help keep the float stable and prevent your little one from falling out.

Comfort

This float doesn’t really offer fantastic comfort for your little one – the float itself is hard, and it’s not covered with a soft material like the SwimWays Activity Float is. However, it will definitely be comfortable enough if your baby isn’t in the float for a long period of time.

Pros

  • Exceptionally durable, chew-proof and easy to set up
  • Adjustable seat grows with your child
  • Adorable boat design with built-in steering wheel
  • Interactive bell toys and bottle holder
  • Attachable fabric canopy, raised sides

Cons

  • Expensive and not that comfortable
  • Canopy is flimsy
  • Graphics are decal stickers

8. Easiest Swim Float to Inflate: Intex Kiddie Float

Intex Kiddie Float

Why we like it: This affordable float is really easy to inflate – it doesn’t even require a pump!

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Size: 32″L x 26″W (when deflated)
  • Recommended Age: 1 – 2 years
  • Weight Limit: 33 lbs
  • Sun Protection: Yes

Let’s be real: inflating a float is pretty tough if you don’t own a pump – it takes a good amount of lung power, and it can be incredibly time-consuming. Thankfully, the Intex Kiddie Float makes inflating hassle-free – you won’t need a pump, and it only takes about five minutes to inflate.

This float also makes for great fun: it has a unique, built-in inflatable handle that has plastic balls and a rattle ball inside it. Though, as the handle is connected to the main air chamber (not separate), this float is not ideal for a baby who bites or plays roughly: if the handle gets punctured, the entire float will be ruined. If your baby is a biter or chewer, the Swimways Baby Tug Boat is a great chew-proof float.

The Intex Kiddie Float does have a cute built-in canopy, but it isn’t adjustable or removable. That said, the canopy’s front part can be lifted up (not fixed – attached with Velcro), which allows you to easily put your baby in the float, as the canopy won’t be in the way.

Be aware that because the canopy’s front part is attached with Velcro, if your baby plays with the Velcro parts it could cause the canopy to detach.

Safety Features

The Intex Kiddie Float has high sides and dual air chambers, which helps to keep the float sturdy.

Comfort

The float’s seat is fairly comfortable, but it’s a bit too spacious for our liking – a small baby could (quite easily) wriggle out, so it’s best to avoid this product if you have a tiny tot.

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Super easy to inflate
  • Canopy and a built-in interactive handle
  • Dual air chambers and high sides

Cons

  • Seat too spacious
  • Canopy not removable or adjustable
  • Inflatable handle connected to float itself

9. Best Swim Float for Twins: Poolmaster Baby Rider (2 Child Version)

Poolmaster Baby Rider (2 Child Version)

Why we like it: This float can accommodate twins and comes equipped with a half-ring – perfect for parent-child bonding.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Size: 46″L x 43″W (when deflated)
  • Recommended Age: 8 – 24 months
  • Weight Limit: 40 lbs each
  • Sun Protection: No

Trying to manage two babies in two separate floats is a recipe for disaster – it’ll be a struggle to maintain a secure grip on each float, and it’ll be near impossible to supervise them both. Fortunately, the Poolmaster Baby Rider float makes pool time with twins a breeze – it accommodates two babies, meaning you’ll be able to easily manage both your tots at the same time.

Yet there are plenty more reasons why this product is sure to float your boat. For example, it has a half-ring opening that allows you to get up close to your little ones, making it great for bonding time. Plus, it comes with four inflatable water toys that can be attached to the float. There’s even storage space in the middle, though keep in mind that this space is within your baby’s reach!

While we’re reviewing the float’s two-child version, it does have a one-child version. The one-child version has the same features, but it also comes with a canopy—though it won’t accommodate your twins.

Safety Features

Unfortunately, this float is lacking when it comes to safety features – it doesn’t have dual air chambers, straps or built-in handles. However, the half-ring opening does mean you can always stay exceptionally close to your babies. You should also be aware that the Pooolmaster Baby Rider isn’t the most durable, so you’ll need to be extra careful with it.

If you want a float that’s built to last and has plenty of safety features, check out the Mambobaby Float.

Comfort

Though it’s designed to accommodate two, this float won’t tip or slant if it’s only being used by one child.

The drop-down seat is a perfect size for most babies – it allows them to splash with ease, but the water won’t come up too high on their body. However, if your baby struggles to keep themselves sitting upright, they’ll likely fall forwards in this float; it doesn’t give them any additional support (no backrest or straps).

The seat also provides generous legroom (diaper style rather than cut-out leg holes), making it spacious enough for babies wearing thick swim diapers. Though, the legroom would definitely be too much for a small baby – they’d be able to easily climb out the float, and may even fall through one of the leg holes!

Pros

  • Accommodates two babies
  • Half-ring opening, ideal for bonding
  • Attachable toys
  • Storage space in middle

Cons

  • Lacks safety features
  • Seat and its leg holes definitely too spacious for a small tot
  • No support to help them sit upright

10. Most Versatile Swim Float: SwimSchool 4-in-1 Baby Float

SwimSchool 4-in-1 Baby Float

Why we like it: With 4 different ways to use it, this float is exceptionally versatile, and it’s also ideal for older infants.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Size: 27″L x 24″W
  • Recommended Age: 18 months – 3 years
  • Sun Protection: No

Wanting a float for your older infant that they can still use in their toddler years? Then the SwimSchool 4-in-1 float has got you covered. Thanks to its unique design, this float is extremely versatile: it can be used as a baby swim float, cruiser, kick float and even a kickboard. The cruiser and swim float options are ideal for your child in their infancy, while the kick float and kickboard options are perfect for when your child is older and has outgrown the float’s built-in seat.

This float is colorful and features various aquatic animals, so your little one is sure to feel like they’re exploring the sea!

Be aware that the kickboard is attached with Velcro strips, and the Velcro isn’t very strong. If your child wriggles about a lot, the kickboard will likely fall off.

Unfortunately, this float lacks durability compared to others on our list – it has a tendency to tear at the seams (which can cause it to deflate). For this reason, this float is not great for frequent use. When your little one is using it you’ll need to check for air leakage regularly. If you want a float that can survive frequent use, we recommend the SwimWays Baby Tug Boat.

Safety Features

This float’s seat is reinforced with three layers, and it comes with a repair patch. It also has safety valves and two easy-grip handles. When this float is being used as a kick float, the handles are particularly useful as your child can grip on to them to help them maintain balance while they kick.

Comfort

Unfortunately, this float isn’t that comfortable – when the kickboard isn’t attached, the Velcro strips can rub against your baby’s skin and snag on clothing. If your baby has sensitive skin, it’s best to avoid this float. Stick to the SwimWays Activity Float instead.

Pros

  • 4 in 1 design; extremely versatile
  • Colorful design featuring aquatic animals
  • Reinforced seat
  • Easy-grip handles and comes with repair patch

Cons

  • Poor durability
  • Not comfortable
  • Velcro strips can be a hassle

Guide to Buying the Best Baby Swim Float

In this guide we’ll be covering the ins and outs of baby swim floats to help you choose the best option for your little one. We’ll then answer some frequently asked questions about baby swim floats.

Why You Should Buy a Baby Swim Float

Buying a swim float for your baby will truly benefit their well-being – here, we’ll cover exactly how.

Boosts Confidence in Water

Aquaphobia (the fear of water) is typically developed during childhood – a child can even have aquaphobia by the time they’re a year old!

To keep away the water wobbles, it’s best to introduce your little one to the water early, and in a way that allows them to feel confident. A baby swim float is ideal for this, as it lets them splash, play and explore the water with a sense of security.

Preparation for Swimming Lessons

We all want our little ones to grow up to be confident swimmers that’ll impress everyone with their mastered strokes and dives. But to get to that point they’re going to need plenty of swimming lessons.

The first swimming lesson can be an exciting experience, but for some kids, the pool’s vastness can be daunting and overwhelming, and actually entering the pool can be a challenge in itself.

However, if your child has grown up with a swim float, they’ll be comfortable around the pool by the time they start their lessons. After all, as we mentioned above, a swim float will boost your baby’s confidence in the water, which is sure to help them see the pool as a fun place rather than something to be afraid of.

As a side note, the Free Swimming Float is perfect for preparing your little one for their swimming lessons!

Developmental Benefits

Introducing your baby to the pool early on can be highly beneficial to their development. For example, it can help to build their gross motor skills, as they’ll be kicking in the water and splashing about – movements that use their arms, legs and torso. It’ll also expose them to new sensory experiences.

Plus, you can encourage your little one to play with water toys while they’re in the pool. Play involving hand, finger and wrist movement is sure to improve fine motor skills.

Keeps Baby Shaded

As we discussed earlier, many swim floats (like the SwimWays Baby Activity Float) have built-in canopies that keep your little one shaded and protected from the sun. We talk more about the importance of limiting your baby’s sun exposure further down.

Strengthens Parent-Child Bond

Swimming with your baby is a great way to strengthen the bond you share, as it involves giving them your undivided attention – something that’s sure to make them feel important and loved.

Swimming also requires you to be close to your baby at all times, which provides plenty of opportunity for skin-to-skin interaction.

What Swim Float Is Right for My Baby?

Besides the features we’ve already touched on, like size, comfort and safety features, there are a few other factors worth thinking about when you’re choosing a baby swim float.

Age

If your baby is more than a year old, it’s best to go for a float that enables them to move their arms and legs with ease – an older baby tends to be more adventurous and playful, so they’ll definitely want to interact with the water.

On the other hand, if your infant is under six months of age, they probably won’t be able to sit up unaided, meaning they’ll benefit more from a float that lets them lie down comfortably. The SwimWays Baby Spring Float is a great option for babies that can’t sit up.

Keep in mind sun protection is exceptionally vital for a baby under six months (we explain why below).

Some swim floats can grow with your baby (come with adjustable seats). If your baby is only a few months old, they’re going to be experiencing growth spurt after growth spurt, so going for an adjustable swim float will likely be cost-effective in the long run. If you’re looking for an adjustable float, check out the Mambobaby Float.

Aim

Have a particular goal in mind? Then you’ll need to ensure the float you buy is appropriate for that goal. For example, if you’re hoping to improve your child’s motor skills, you should opt for a float that has built-in toys and gives them enough freedom to kick their legs and splash about.

If you’re ultimately wanting to strengthen your parent-child bond, you should go for a float that has a split-ring opening, like the Poolmaster Baby Rider. A split-ring opening enables you to get in close with your little one and float beside them.

Interests

Picking a float your baby is sure to love will make their pool time more enjoyable. If your baby has shown a clear interest in animals, why not go for a float shaped like an aquatic animal, such as the Peradix Baby Float?

Where Will You Be Swimming?

Don’t own a pool? Then chances are you’re going to have to travel some distance to access one, meaning you’ll need a float that can be easily packed away in a car. We recommend the SwimWays Activity Float, as it’s compact when folded up and even comes with a convenient storage bag.

As a side note, if you’re planning to visit a public pool, make sure it’s suitable for babies and check if it allows you to use swim floats!

How Often Will You Be Swimming?

If you’ll be taking your baby to the pool on a regular basis, you’ll need a float that can survive frequent use, like the SwimWays Baby Tug Boat.

On the other hand, if you’ll be taking them once every month or so, you probably won’t need to fork out for a float with exceptional durability – an inflatable float like the Intex My Baby Float will last until your baby outgrows it, and is a more budget-friendly option.

How Do I Introduce My Baby to Their Float?

Before you attempt to put your baby into a swim float, it’s a good idea to get them accustomed to being in the pool. First, hold them close to you in the pool, then gently bob up and down with them in the water. Make sure this experience is as enjoyable and relaxing as possible – incorporate toys, make soothing noises and praise them while they splash about.

If your baby appears to be comfortable and enjoying themselves, have another adult bring the float over and get them to hold it securely. Slowly put your baby into the float, but if they start to resist, stop immediately and hold them close to you.

Once again, praise your little one and make soothing sounds. When they seem relaxed, try again to put them into the float. While doing so, you can give them a toy to play with to keep them distracted. If you manage to put them into the float, make sure to fasten any straps.

If your baby is still resisting the float, it’s best to stop and try again another day – forcing them will just strengthen their fear of the float (and the water), rather than foster their love for it.

Extra Tips

If your baby seems fearful of the pool itself, it’s a good idea to get them first accustomed to smaller bodies of water – try starting with a baby bathtub, or a baby pool.

Keep in mind some floats are particularly effective at gaining a baby’s interest. For example, the SwimWays Activity Float has an enticing built-in play station that will delight any little one.

If your baby is nervous of the water or has resisted previous floats, the Poolmaster Baby Rider might be what you need; it has a split-ring opening which will allow you to float right next to your baby – this can help them feel safer and more secure.

Pool and Swim Float Safety

Before taking your baby to the pool, make sure to familiarize yourself with the following safety information:

We all know the dangers of water, but did you know drowning is a leading cause of injury death in children? In fact, an infant can drown within 30 seconds, meaning looking away for a single moment can result in tragedy. For this reason, it’s important to supervise your baby at all times while they’re in the pool.

Speaking of which, make sure you know the signs of drowning, and the steps to take if your baby is drowning or has a near-drowning experience. What to Expect has a useful guide on all of this information. We cannot stress this point enough: learn how to perform baby CPR before your tot gets within even a few feet of the pool.

If you own a pool, set up a child-proof fence (should be at least 4 feet in height and have a self-closing gate) around it. This will prevent your infant from wandering into harm’s way if you accidentally turn your back for a moment. When entering a pool with your baby, make sure you know how to carry out a safe entry and safe exit.

Check the temperature of the pool before you take your baby into it; babies can’t properly regulate their body temperature, meaning they’re more sensitive to heat and cold. The pool should be fairly warm, with a temperature of 84°F to 87°F.

Always examine an inflatable float for tears before use. Even if your baby is using their swim float, keep them away from the pool’s deep end. Stick to shallow water.

Chances are your little one isn’t potty-trained, so you should invest in a swim diaper to prevent any (messy) accidents! And, once your little one hits toddlerhood, it’s a good idea to purchase a swim vest for them.

Will a Swim Float Keep My Baby Safe?

A baby swim float can be a useful swimming aid that helps keep your little one safe, but it’s not intended to be a life-saving device. As such, it should never be a replacement for supervising your baby, and you should certainly never leave them alone in one – even the most well-designed swim float has the potential to tip over or break. Always have your attention on your little one, and stay within arm’s length (using touch supervision).

Limiting Sun Exposure

Below the age of six months, a baby’s skin is extremely sensitive and can burn easily. For this reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies younger than six months should be kept out of direct sunlight. Of course, even babies older than this still have delicate skin that needs protection from the sun’s rays.

While you can purchase a float with a canopy that’ll keep your baby shaded, there are a few other measures you can (and should) take to limit your baby’s sun exposure:

  • Purchase gear that’ll protect your baby’s skin from the sun. For example, you can buy a sun hat with neck flaps, sunglasses, or swim clothing that’ll keep their arms and legs safe.
  • Once your baby is older than six months, they should start wearing sunscreen. Stick to SPF 50+ for the best protection. When applying sunscreen, ensure you cover every part of their body, including their ears, hands and neck, and reapply every few hours (the water will eventually wash the sunscreen off). Oh, and don’t forget to first do a patch test on your baby!
  • Avoid taking your baby to the pool when the sun is at its peak point (10pm – 4pm), as this is when its rays are strongest – stick to cooler times, like mornings and early evenings.

Of course, it goes without saying you should know the signs of sunburn and the steps to take if your baby gets sunburned.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here we’ll touch on the most common questions parents have when it comes to baby swim floats and pool time.

How Soon Can a Baby Go in a Pool?

A baby can enter a pool at any age, though it’s best to wait until they’re at least two months old; a newborn’s immune system is very weak, which makes them vulnerable to picking up infections from pool water. That said, every baby is different, so it’s always best to speak to your pediatrician about this.

Keep in mind new moms shouldn’t be entering a pool until six weeks after childbirth, or until postpartum bleeding has stopped. For more information about this (and an explanation why), click here.

Can My Older Child Supervise My Baby in the Pool?

It may be tempting to get your older child to supervise your little one in the pool while you go finish off some household tasks. However, you should never leave them alone with your baby, no matter how responsible they seem!

Can I Use a Baby Neck Float?

A neck float is an inflatable ring that goes around your baby’s neck (pictured below).
baby in pool wearing green inflatable neck float

According to the Swimmers Teachers’ Association (STA), a neck float has many hidden risks and should be avoided. For example, it can put strain on your baby’s neck, and can even obstruct breathing if it’s too tight.

When Can My Child Start Swimming Lessons?

Usually, a child is ready to start swimming lessons by the time they’re a year old, though this is not true for every child. The AAP has a useful guide that can help you tell if your little one is ready to start lessons.

Taking the Plunge

With a swim float that takes into consideration your little one’s needs, their first dip into the pool will be a fun experience and they’ll gain confidence around water – something they’ll benefit from for years to come.

Whether you’re looking for baby swim float that has built-in toys, or a swim float that your little one can grow with, our list has got you (and your water baby) covered.