Flotation device for small toddler?

DD is 20 months old and weighs 22 lbs.  I'm planning on taking both kids to the pool a lot this summer and am trying to figure out what type of flotation device to get her.

We got the puddle jumper for DS around the same age, but he was within the 30-50 lb weight range.  There are a couple of other threads where people said their toddlers were 20-25 lbs and fit in them just fine.  Both kids are in swim lessons and I obviously don't plan on letting her swim completely on her own, I'm just looking for something to give her a little independence.  If anyone has any other suggestions, I'm open to anything!  Thanks.

Re: Flotation device for small toddler?

  • My only advise is to find one that is approved by the USCG----US Coast Guard.  Otherwise, as told to me by my childrens swim teacher when they were infants, if they tip upside down they could get stuck underwater.  I realize she will always be within arms reach, but it was just advise I always remembered.

    She actually recommends going to a boating store and buying as USCG approved life vest for little ones.

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  • Puddle Jumpers are USCG approved. 

    I would not stray from the limits by that much, though.  My DD, G, is still just 26 lbs at 2.5 and I would not even use it now....within 1-2 lbs, maybe, but not 8.  You can find USCG approved life vests at Walmart/Target/Meijer/etc...just look for the seal - it will be on the vest, and there will be an additional tag along with the brand/pricing tags.



  • FWIW - My kids are all very tiny HATED the infant life vests and those are the only ones that I could find approved for under 30lbs.  DS is 27 months and is barely 22lbs.  We tried the infant vest on him last summer and he was miserable.  He couldn't swim or anything because an infant vest is designed to flip kids on their backs to keep their mouths above water.  Great for safety and survival, but not the best for kids playing in a pool.  On top of that, because all the padding was on the front, he could barely walk in it and kept falling over.  It was a mess.  We ended up using the little arm floaties.  I found some that start at 20lbs and even though he wasn't 20 lbs yet, they worked great.  By the end of the summer (about 18-19 months), he was jumping off the edge and swimming to the stairs "on his own" with the arm floaties.  He was also jumping off the edge, popping up and swimming to DH or I a few feet away without the floaties.  I don't think we'll use them this summer because we stop using floaties when the kids start swimming lessons and DS has been in them since January.  Obviously, they are NOT coast guard approved and I would never use them without very close supervision, but we used them with all three of our kids to give them a bit of independence and to give us the ability to watch all three of them in the pool at the same time.
  • Ditto the PuddleJumper.   My little guy was 22 lbs 10 oz at his 24 month appointment.  He HATED the infant life vest.  It kept flipping him on his back and he couldn't move.  The puddlejumper keeps him in a more natural (head up out of the water, body in a swim position) position in the water.  I don't think he is in the weight limit for it but it works for the most part, sometimes the arms slide off but he is never not supervised in the pool.  
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  • We had this one for DD.  She was small too.  It allowed her to swim around without chafing.  You do have to watch, as they can still tip over, but it allowed her to get the motion of swimming and move around independently more safely.

  • DD2 is about 29 lbs now, and we just started trying out the puddle jumper with her at the pool. I think because she's on the smaller side of the weight range, it tends to try to flip her on her back. The arms still fall down sometimes, and we end up tightening it almost all the way once it's wet.

    DD1 was 3 yo the first time she used one, and it worked perfectly for her right away.

    Since you already have one, I don't think it would hurt to try it and see if it might work. I wonder if you could buy the bubble belts that they use for swimming lessons. That combined with swimmies might help. They're so squirmy at this age that I know it's nice to have something holding them up if they squirm out of your hands.

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  • Target sells swim vests that worked great for both of my tiny girls.  They zip on like a vest and have a strap that goes between the legs.  The girls could very easily move around and swim on their own and we never had issues with them at all.
    Jenni Mom to DD#1 - 6-16-06 DD#2 - 3-13-08 
  • We use the arm floaties in the pool for swimming DS can jump in and swim to us.  We have a normal life vest for the boat but it doesn't work for swiming holds him up to much.  He is 26 pounds now but has been in the water since 1 month old with us and he wants to swim and kick
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