These flotation devices keep disabled kids safe in the water
Water wings don’t' work for everyone.
Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
As a parent of a 10-year-old son with cerebral palsy, I am always looking for ways to adapt activities to include him more easily. He loves to swim, which provides great exercise, is therapeutic, and is lots of fun, but he needs assistance. I often spend time holding him and helping him in the pool. Like any kid, he wants his independence, and the right floatie can make that happen.
I reached out to friends, physical therapists, and the internet at large to create this list of disability-friendly flotation devices for kids.
1. Kiefer Cushion Float Collar
The design of the Kiefer Cushion Float Collar is a similar concept to the Water Way Babies float, but instead of a circular plastic ring, this collar is a flat, 2-inch-thick, foam oval that does not need to be inflated. The foam collar goes around the user’s head and can be fastened with a clip.
2. Water Way Babies neck flotation device
Water Way Babies makes a float with a very simple design. It’s a blow-up ring that circles the individual’s neck, keeping their head afloat, but their body free to move about the water. It comes in three different sizes, small, medium and large, that are all priced at $45 each. Their website touts the strength-building properties of hydrotherapy for people with developmental needs.
3. Life Jacket-Adapted Inc.
The Life Jacket-Adapted Inc. site carries several life jackets for people with disabilities. Each model is slightly different, and these variations give the user flexibility depending on their ability to tolerate more or less of the water. For example, one model allows the user to float on their back or their stomach as well as to stretch their body out flat. Another looks more rigid and only allows the user on their stomach or back, but not lying flat. A third looks the most solid and the user remains in a horizontal position while wearing the float. These items range in size and price to accommodate people between 18 to 250 pounds and from $170 to $440. The Life Jacket-Adapted Inc. factory is located in Canada, but they ship internationally.
The Theraquatics site sells a large variety of different fabric floatation devices that are chlorine resistant and latex free. The flotation products range from a simple neck collar, which supports the head, to a swim ring that goes around the waist, or a body sling that supports both the neck and the back. This site also sells pool games, flotation mats, kickboards, swim diapers, pool toys, and even a water collar for dogs.
5. Danmar Sectional Raft Swim Aid
The Danmar Sectional Raft Swim Aid is a float made of eight foam panels, a head support, and two shoulder straps. Unlike a traditional floaties that keep an individual above the water, the Swim Aid supports the body in the water. It’s available in small or large, and ranges from 36 to 74 inches long.
6. Dolphin Buoyancy Float System
The Dolphin Buoyancy Float System for Aquatic Therapy is better for a user who has trunk control and some experience swimming, but still needs help distributing body weight in the water. The foam pads are not supposed to sink or absorb water, and the product is available in small or large sizes for around $200.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.