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Your Input is Needed! What Flotations Devices Work Best for Little Ones?

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Flotations Devices

Check out this email from reader, Jenny:

With summer in full swing, I am so interested to know what kind of flotations devices work best for the pool and/or beach? I have already bought 2 different types and I am not impressed… I would LOVE to hear what other Hip2Savers have to say! ๐Ÿ™‚

Share your thoughts in the comments below!


Starfish Puddle Jumper Floatation DeviceOne flotation device that always comes highly recommended each time it is posted on Hip2Save.com is the Stearns Puddle Jumper Basic Life Jacket. Designed for children between 30-50 pounds who are learning to swim, these life jackets offer great stability and confidence building while in the water while allowing free range of motion. And the buckles in the back make it easier to put on and take off than other life jackets.

And for a limited time, you can grab this Starfish Puddle Jumper Floatation Device from Jet.com for just $11.99. Shipping is $5.99 or free on an order over $35. And, if youโ€™re aย new Jet.com customer, you can save an additional 15% off your first 3 orders of $35 or more (up to a $30 discount) when you use promo code TRIPLE15 at checkout.

Why readers like these puddle jumpers:

These are great! My daughter used hers for a few years and we loved it. It gave her independence but still much safer than the arm floats.

These are fantastic – my two year old has so much more fun now that she can โ€œswimโ€ freely in the pool with her puddle jumper. So great that they are now approved as a safety device for boating, too!

Love love love these. Grandbabies, even though they swim, wear these at the pool because they are comfortable for them.

Join The Discussion

Comments 116

  1. Summer

    My neurotypical child never had a floatation device – we just taught her to swim

  2. Scnewport

    I only completely trust the certified life jacket with the crotch clip. These keep the jacket from floating up to the head of the little user.

    • Michelle

      I used a life vest with the clip around the front to back!

  3. Tiffany

    In a pool I love the puddle jumpers, but for the lake or ocean I, too only trust the life jacket with crotch clip.

  4. Jessica

    Puddle jumper!

  5. Samantha

    Love the puddle jumpers!

  6. Heather

    Puddle Jumpers for sure!!!

  7. Jill

    My son started swimming at 6months. And I think the perfect flotation device depends on age and activity level.

    Most pools around me require them to be coast guard approved which leaves me with a puddle jumper or a life jacket.

    Between the ages of walking-2years we kept my son in a life jacket that buckled under the crotch. However my son would not wear the type with the head pillows. He screamed non stop (made our first lake trip unforgettable!) So we searched high and low for a life jacket that didn’t have the head pillow. Costco had one and we loved it until he was 2.

    Once he hit 2, we wanted him to start swimming on his own more so we switched to a puddle jumper (it allowed him to practice dunking his own head more). From 2-4 a puddle jumper worked great (especially when he was 3.5 and we had our second baby and I was no longer always directly next to him).

    At 4 we have him on a swim team swimming laps. So my recommendations are based on kids who aren’t scared of the water. If your child is scared I would stick with the traditional lifejacket which keeps them more upright in the water, and makes it hard for them to go under water.

  8. Lupi

    Puddle Jumpers all the way!!!! So wish I had gotten them earlier. My twin boys did so well swimming in these and this summer we are going to just the arm floatation since they just finished their first swim lessons. They just turned 4.

  9. Kristin

    Puddle Jumpers are by far the best floatation devices around. We’ve tried life veats, arm floaties, inner tubes, etc. The kids love the Puddle Jumpers best

  10. Teresa

    Definitely the puddle jumper

  11. chrissy

    We love our puddle jumper!! My daughter is a small 6 year old and this works perfect for her. We use it for the boat every summer on the lake.

  12. brooke

    Due to the fact that they are coast guard approved, we use Puddle Jumpers on our boat for our petite 4 year old twins. They have the option of using a life jacket with the under buckle and MUCH prefer the Puddle Jumper for the ease of movement.

  13. Brittany

    For those of you who love the puddle jumper, try the Body Glove Paddler. It is the exact same concept of the puddle jumper, but it also has straps that go over the shoulders. The worst thing about the puddle jumper is that it sometimes slides down to far on kids arms and tummies. This one stays place and doesn’t slide down. Target sells the body glove paddler and so does Sam’s Club and Amazon.

    http://m.target.com/p/body-glove-paddle-pals-lifejacket-purple/-/A-18758752

  14. Sarah

    I would love any advice on Convincing my two-year-old put on any type of flotation device. She’s not in anyway scared of the water, but we cannot put a life jacket arm floaty’s anything on her. She’s terrified of them. Never had a bad experience she’s never worn she won’t put them on. Has anybody experienced the same thing? Anybody know how to overcome this? Thank you in advance for any advice

    • heidiwildauer

      I think explaining that it’s for safety and it’s a must then letting them pick the design or color maybe could help? I feel like the more choices I gave helps sometimes – depends on kid

  15. Michele

    My kids got swim lessons at the ymca. They use a “bubble”. It goes on their Back and allows their arms to do the strokes freely. You can buy them at any YMCA!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Sarah PM

    We prefer well-fitted life vests/jackets for safety ๐Ÿ˜Š

  17. CourtneyFranklin

    We always used the ones that go around your chest and arms like the one pictures with a crab.

  18. Kim

    The puddle jumper is awesome! My 5 year old has been using his since he was 3 and he loves it.

  19. Erica

    I’ve seen all of my mommy friends using the puddle jumpers and they look awesome, but if your child is small for his/her age, it may not work for you. The weight range is 30-50 pounds. My 5 year old just finally reached 30 pounds so the puddle jumpers were not an option when she was younger. I tried one on her last year when she was 4 and it was still way too big. Good old fashioned arm floaties seemed to work the best for her.

  20. Jen Ward

    Puddle jumper keeps little ones heads out of the water and are very sturdy and well made

  21. opstephaniec

    When first being introduced to water – puddle jumpers hands down. As they are learning to swim more on their own, I love the Speedo fabric swimmies as they slide on nicely and are comfortable for the kids to wear because they are fabric. The puddle jumper keeps the kids out of the water, which is great for little ones and the swimmies introduce them to actual swimming, which is great as they get older and learn to swim on their own.

  22. Theresa S

    Puddle jumper by FAR

  23. Krystal

    we have used both the body glove brand as mentioned above in the comments, and while it worked for a time, she preferred the puddle jumper style, it allowed her to move more. our son who will b 2 this july will b in the 2nd puddle jumper. as out now 7 year old has graduated to NO LIFE jacket in the pool only. we have not been out on the lake with the kids so I cant attest to how they work in that situation. we have a private pool. so its just us no lifeguard, and I feel like it works for us. may not b for everyone

  24. Kcmiami88

    I have two, a life vest type, and the one mentioned (the puddle jumper) and although I like that the best doesn’t over pad the arms it slides up around my sons neck and the belt that should prevent it is very uncomfortable. So we have moved to the puddle jumper which hasn’t given us problems and is coast guard approved, but i personally don’t like how it’s so padded on my 3 year olds arms since I enjoy my son moving more naturally in the water.

  25. Rochelle

    Puddle jumper. Gives a bit more freedom to swim and still get peace of mind about safety.

  26. Jana

    I used the Konfidence Jacket for my son – definitely a bit more pricey but I LOVED it. You can remove the interal bouys in the jacket as they learn to swim to allow them to hold up their own bodyweight more.

  27. Beth

    I have bought tons of floatation devices and Puddle Jumpers are the only ones that actually work!

  28. Sue

    As a former lifeguard and swim instructor my only recommendation is to make sure that it’s Coast Guard approved. I know “floaties” are pretty common but if one or both is worn or punctured it’s not safe, plus they encourage improper swimming form. My other recommendation is to get your little ones used to the water as soon as possible and, (if you can be in the water one-on-one with them), to forego the life jacket as much as possible to help them learn how to swim. When I worked at the YMCA there is always a lesson plan but the basic plan is always the same: 1. Getting the children in the water where they can stand. 2. Have the children practice blowing bubbles in the water (i.e. getting their face and nose wet and learning to blow through their nose so water doesn’t get in it – we used to ask them to “blow out their ‘birthday candle’). 3. Have the children practice kicking while holding onto the wall. 4. Have the children practice kicking with a kickboard to strengthen their legs and promote a good solid kick that propels them forward. 4. Have the children practice their “scoops” on the wall (i.e. using a cupped hand to practice reaching all the wall down to their pockets and over as far as they could reach to practice their freestyle arms). 5. Having the children practice their scoops (we used to say ‘scoop your ice cream!’) on a kickboard with their face in the water, one arm at a time. This was the basic lesson plan for all the levels. You can also have the children hold a kickboard against their chest while swimming on their back to build strength and a strong kick and having the children practice floating on their back. But the main things are getting the kids comfortable putting their face in the water, building a strong kick, and making a full rotation with their arms (i.e. no ‘doggy paddle). The reason for this is that is because the process of a person starting to drown starts with them becoming vertical in the water, which starts with their head lifting up. This makes it easier for the head to then bob below the water and for the child to take on water in their lungs. Also, last thing before I step off my little soapbox (apologies, all my paranoid lifeguard thoughts are coming back to me), please please please never ever for even a moment leave your child unattended in a pool, no matter how good of a swimmer. If there are children in a pool there needs to be an adult or trained lifeguard to watch them. That does not mean reading a book or being on a cell phone. I personally have had to save children whose parents were only steps away but were reading or texting or making a call. Anyway, hope that helps!

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