10 best swimming aids

Help little ones gain confidence in the pool with the right equipment

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The Independent Online

Whether the family’s off to sunny climes, or just the local pool, inspire their confidence from as young as two years old with these pool-ready swimming aids. Getting toddlers into uncomfortable plastic armbands can be a struggle, so we've found some alternative floatation solutions. The items on this list will help youngsters find their flippers in water – and some double-up as protective swimwear. These all have the approval of our mini testers but as with any swimming toy or device, remember that adult supervision is essential.  

1. Splash About Go Splash Starter Float Jacket: From £15.99, Amazon


This jacket is great because it has eight removable floats that can be adjusted depending on your child’s ability. It works best once they are big enough to stay upright and hold their head out the water, so we’d recommend it for children aged two and above. It doesn’t restrict their arms like armbands and is also ideal for children with sensitive skin as it doesn’t run the risk of rubbing under the arms. 

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2. Swim School Aqua Tot Trainer: £24.95, Amazon


A great alternative to the usual vest-type aids which can ride up and rub under the chin, this one stays in place, giving brilliant independence when learning to swim. Baby can simply jump into it at the steps, making it far easier than arm bands which can be a pain to get on and off.

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3. Zoggs Kids Float Discs Learn to Swim Arm Band: £12.95, Amazon


With armbands that you don’t need to inflate, there’s no risk of punctures and you won’t have the hassle of deflating them after each swim session or lesson. You reduce the number of rings as your child grows more confident in the water. The idea is to get your child from two Zoggs down to one, until eventually they are swimming by themselves.

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4. JoJo Maman Bebe Child Float Suits: £23, JoJo Maman Bebe


This is a swimsuit and a swimming aid in one, so your little one (hopefully) won’t even notice they’re wearing a flotation device – armbands can often lead to a lot of fuss. The eight floats can be removed and adjusted so that the buoyancy is right to suit each individual child as their swimming develops. Make sure you look at weight limits, not just ages, as the sizing of these is crucial.

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5. Speedo Begin To Swim Fabric Armband: £14.57, Amazon


A great alternative to plastic armbands, these fabric armbands are perfect for children whose confidence is building in the water. The material makes them much more comfortable, and as an added bonus, they have a UV 50+ block so your child will stay protected from the sun's harmful UV rays. If traditional inflatable armbands are your preference, then make them these ones.

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6. Speedo Neoprene Life Vest: £16, Amazon


When it comes to wetsuit-style life vests, consider this one the best. It’s perfect for children who are now more familiar with the water but still dependent on full flotation. But mainly it includes the vital crouch strap, making it extra secure and safe. It also comes in bright and colourful prints that kids will love to wear.

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7. Sevylor Puddle Jumper Deluxe Flotation Device: £14.99, Amazon


This US Coast Guard-approved vest fits comfortably over a child's chest, with arm pieces that allow for free range of motion in the water, while still keeping them safe. Made from soft but durable polyester, it’s available in several designs and colours for both boys and girls.  

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8. Splash About Kids Sun Protection Float Suit: £25.99, Amazon


This suit is ideal for tiny travellers off to a sunny destination. As with others on the list, it comes with detachable floats that you can adjust as their confidence grows. It comes in three sizes, catering for ages one to six, and the extra coverage on the arms, legs and neck make it great for keeping them protected in the sun.

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9. Zoggs Training Toy: £6, Amazon       


These are great fun. The idea is that you blow bubbles into the water to try to flip over the toys, getting little ones used to having their face in the water. However, they are also great for just throwing and collecting, and younger children will also love learning and saying the colours. They can also double up as a great bath toy.

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10. Splash About Fings: From £14.99, Amazon


This buoyancy aid allows children freedom to move their arms, and it sets them up in the optimum position to develop their swimming skills. It’s ideal for children who are almost swimming independently. 

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The Splash About life vest adapts with your child’s skill level and is so comfortable they will most likely forget they are even wearing a buoyancy aid. 

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