She Says… Water Baby

We spent most of the weekend submerged in pools. Owen has always enjoyed the water, but this weekend I think he fell in love.


The kid would easily be outside all day long if he had his way.


Rain or shine, hot or cold.


The boy is fearless. He splashes and jumps and launches himself into the water without a second thought. He rides on rafts and even tried putting his head underwater a few times (once or twice by accident and once or twice on purpose).

Even Schnitzel got in on the pool action (he would jump in anytime anyone was underwater, presumably to “save” them). He’s our lifeguard.

Of course with the introduction of pools came the introduction of LOTS of new rules for Owen to keep him safe. No running by the pool. You MUST hold an adult’s hand when you get in the water. Do not lean over to play in the water unless you are laying on your tummy (he almost fell in head first several times while I was RIGHT THERE next to him).

While I loved being with Owen in the water and I hope to encourage his love of swimming and get him in some swim classes whenever they will be useful to him, TODDLER + POOL = SCARY to me. Even with so many eyes on him.

We capped off the weekend with the quintessential summer treat. Ice cream cones! I have offered Owen ice cream a few times and he has turned it down and opted to just eat the cone instead. This time he finally tried a lick and was immediately smitten. “I LIKE IT!” he proclaimed, as he went back for lick after lick after lick.

Kara once told me that I was lucky my kid only ate the cone because I didn’t have to share with him. I’m afraid those days are over. Someone seems to like ice cream as much as his mommy.




Do your kids use floaties/life vests in the pool/ocean? I have read that some people think they are detrimental to learning how to swim and they give kids a false sense of security. Sort of like training wheels on a bike. And become a hard habit to break. That theory makes sense to me, so I was thinking of not really relying on them. However, after playing in the pool for a weekend and seeing just how easy it is for him to go underwater even when he is holding onto me… I see the appeal of a safety vest or water wings. What are your thoughts/experiences? I’m totally new to the kid water safety arena.


19 responses to “She Says… Water Baby

  1. I had heard the same types of things as you have about the floatation devices/water wings, but then someone told me about these:

    I think the reviews probably speak for themselves. They are rated for kids 30-50 lbs. Not sure if Owen is 30 lbs. yet, but if you read a lot of the reviews and ask around with people who have them, they say that the weight range seems “off,” because it actually fits smaller children and WOULDN’T fit larger ones.

    I haven’t purchased one myself yet, because unfortunately we do not have regular access to a pool 😦 , but I am planning on getting one if we end up taking a trip somewhere with water this summer.

    If you watch the videos and read the reviews, it looks like these actually help encourage the kicking/doggy paddle motion–moreso than holding the child seems to do.

  2. I taught swim lessons for 9 years, and I have never been a big fan of water wings because it instills a false sense of confidence in the kiddo. I was big on having something like a kickboard or noodle that the kid could hold onto or rely on, but they learned really fast that if they didn’t have their “safety toy” they would sink. it also gave them the confidence to develop water skills in their own time, and when holding onto the thing (I usually used a noodle) they could practice a lot of skills like kicking and floating. Another big thing to work on is floating on their back. it’s a great thing to teach kids when they’re still really young (I generally started around 18 months) because they learn to associate putting their face in the water with rolling over to their back – a natural way to get air, and the body position for which is inclined to stay afloat. The biggest thing NOT to do is to teach a kid to lift his head to breathe, because that will push his body down in the water and be counter-productive. A great place to start is just lying on his back, head back and belly button “saying hi” (out of the water as much as possible) like taking a nap, and relaxing and getting comfortable in that position as much as possible. That way, the automatic association with getting your face wet becomes rolling over onto your back. It also prevents a lot of bad habits from forming when its time to start learning the strokes.

  3. Faith is on her second session of toddler swim classes and I think it’s been great for her. Until she’s three, a parent has to go in with her, which I really wish was my husband because I freaking hate the pool, but it’s not that bad. It’s 40 minutes of upper body workout for sure! Faith now has advanced bubble blowing skills.

    We don’t use any flotation devices right now, but we probably would for the ocean. Actually, the ocean terrifies me so I don’t want her to go in there until she’s at least in high school. 🙂

    Also, as someone who has all of her food jacked at every meal, I really enjoy that Owen is stealing your ice cream.

  4. My little one (who is actually 9 now) wore all kinds of floaties as she got used to swimming. She was very daredevilish at first – but she had 2 incidents where we had to jump in and grab her because of her overconfidence. After the second time (where my mom had to jump in fully clothed – she took ONE step too far into the deep end – absolutely TERRIFYING!!) she wouldn’t get in the water without someone holding her, so that’s when we tried using floaties. At first she wanted a full life vest and a raft to sit on, then she got a little more confident and we could get her in with the arm floaties. We also signed her up for swimming lessons ASAP to give her knowledge of swimming – and they definitely don’t use floaties. It was the swimming lessons that got her completely confident and used to the water again. So to sum it up, I see no problem with floaties. In fact, I wish we had made her use them earlier, but we didn’t want to take any of her confidence away (which ultimately bit us in the behind). And if they become dependent on them, it’s just like any other habit you have to wean your child off of. I’m sure floaties won’t be the last struggle you have with him! And the reassurance of knowing they’ll be safer is totally worth it!!!

  5. We use puddle jumpers for our kids when we are at the pool or ocean. For me, the safety outweights the concern that they will become dependant on floaties for swimming. My husband and I don’t take our eyes off our kids, we don’t let them get into the water alone- BUT, both have fallen under water at some point. They are both in swim lessons now, so I think we will lose the PJs this summer (they are 4 and 2) but I LOVE them. So worth it!

  6. Jessica M J

    I think it depends on the kid. Both my niece and nephew wore life jackets until they could swim. They didn’t care they were on because they had more freedom. They both took swim lessons and are fine without the life jackets now at 9 and 5, but the 5 year old still puts her life jacket on sometimes when she gets tired so she can keep up. I loved that they wore them, it gave us more piece of mind.

  7. I’ve never heard that about the life vests before! We bought one for Cameron and he used it while we went swimming in the pool in california. Quite frankly, my concern is his safety first and foremost at this age. I’m certain he will not grow up not knowing how to swim because he wore a life vest as a toddler. It’s like saying they never learn to do anything that you assist them with when they are young, kind of? While he’s still of the age that he doesn’t truly understand the danger, I’ll be slapping it on him!

    Cameron loves ice cream and it must be a DEEP love because he’s only had tastes of it like 3 times and every time we come across ice cream cones in books, he pretends he gobbling it up off the page! lol

  8. Check out the Safe T Seal. Provides some buoyancy but my guy must use his arms and legs to really stay afloat. There are several layers of flotation material inside and you can remove a layer at a time as their skills improve without them even knowing you did it.

  9. Clara is 16 months and has been in swimming lessons (weekly) since she was 8 months. They don’t use floatation devices for this reason, so we don’t either. It’s amazing what she has learned (they are first taught not to panic and to make it to the side of the pool, then how to climb out). when we went to the beach, we wanted her to hang out in a float so we wouldn’t have to hold on to her the whole time and she wouldn’t have it!

  10. I heard the same reason as you so no we don’t use floaties. I like the idea of using a noodle so that at least it can be detached and the child would know that it’s because of the noodle that he’s floating. I also heard that it’s good for them to learn how to swim horizontally the way we actually swim instead of vertically which floaties tend to make you want to do. Let me know what you decide! We’re totally new to this whole thing too.

  11. My son has always had a bit of fear with the water. He hated to have his head go under. We never used a floatie and put him in swim lessons at 3. Last summer (now 4 yrs) he still took swim lessons, still hated his head going under, and we bought a puddle jumper. He LOVED it. Gave him some much needed confidence and he became more and more relaxed in the water. Also it allowed him to play in the pool a little more independently (a couple of feet away instead of right by my side). This summer (5 years) he is again in swim lessons, completely over his fear of going under, and has quickly become an independent swimmer. I think part of why that has happened is because he used the puddle jumper last year and I plan on letting my daughter use it when she is a little older(she is only 13 months and 21 pounds, so not quite big enough).

  12. Carrie Pope

    I am from Florida and we grew up around the pool. If you go to you will be amazed! My sister and cousin did the program starting in 1983 and my children took the lessons starting at 6 months, they are 9 and 10 now. They teach survival swimming, not just swim lessons. The program was started by a professor at the University of Florida after he had a neighbor drown in a “ditch” in the backyard. I think you will find their website VERY informational.

  13. I’ve heard about the false sense of security with the water wings/vests, too. Elle started the ISR program that Carrie mentioned a few weeks ago – the literature talks a lot about how kids who have used the flotation devices often take longer to learn the survival principles because they’re used to that false sense of security and need to “unlearn.” I did a lot of research on the program and am really impressed with everything I’ve learned – the testimonials are amazing, and for our Florida baby, we felt it was something that was very important.

  14. I used to rent in the house right next to that ice cream spot — so funny to see the house in your pictures! Memories … especially of good ice cream … Happy summer!

  15. tryingtoheal

    My parents used those arm floaties on us when we were really young, but by the time we hit 5 or so we started taking swimming lessons and we never went back. I don’t think we ever gave the floaties a second though!

  16. I’m of the mindset that it’s never too early for swimming lessons! We did them last summer when Bennett was 6 months, and we’re signed up again this summer (21 months). We’re taking them at the Y. I know there’s one in your town, so maybe see what’s available? You don’t need to be a member, but non-members have to wait until a week or 2 before classes start before they can sign up.

  17. @Chris, We would love to start lessons! In fact, our music class is over for the season and doesn’t start up again until fall and I’ve been looking for a swim class that suits our schedule. Haven’t found one yet, but I’ll definitely check out the Y. Thanks!

  18. We did an Infant Survival Swimming ( course for our son when he was 2 and he is a complete fish now. It was so cool to see him progress through the program to being able to float (in clothes) at the end and get to the side of the pool on his own. I wish we could have afforded it for our daughter, but it’s pricey and being on one income now, we just couldn’t swing it. She did take mommy & me swimming lessons with me though, and she loves the water just as much as her brother. You may want to look the program up online to see if there is an instructor near you.

  19. My 2 year old son has been wearing floaties since he was 6 months old. I thought they were fantastic, giving him a sense of freedom in the pool and the ocean until today when I brought him to his first swim class (they do not use any floatation devices). All kids are different, and not all will react the way my son did, but he did not seem to understand that he was no longer wearing floaties. All he wanted was for me to let go of him, and he became very upset when his face got wet or was submerged for a split second. I do think the floaties gave him a false sense of security and encouraged him to keep his head above water instead of getting wet. I sort of wish I would have taken him to swim classes at a younger age and did away with the floaties all together.

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