You may have seen images of babies suspended by their necks in water by semi-solid or inflatable rings, the photographs generally display babies looking serene and relaxed, enjoying a so-called ‘Pampering Experience’. For as little as £2.49 you can purchase your baby an inflatable neck ring online and recreate a baby spa in your own bathroom! These products are sold as “Safety Aids” and “Unique Swim Gifts”, it is claimed that they “Exercise your baby’s strength and ability to grasp” and that they “Encourage early mobility, exploration & a love for water play” but in our opinion (and many other professionals) we believe this device is completely overlooking the real benefits of introducing young babies to water.
At Aquatots Swimming Ltd we strongly believe in and actively promote the bonding opportunity that our courses offer. The closeness between parent and child is necessary to encourage the confidence the child needs to learn water skills such as kicking and reaching. Being in the water together gives the opportunity for a child to explore in a safe and fun environment. Using a neck float is effectively isolating the baby and restricting free movement, how much can they really explore whilst hanging vertically beneath the float!
Now for some medical evidence! Did you know that infant development is cephalo-caudal, which means it starts from the head and works down? Take a minute to think about suspending a young baby in water with only its neck supported, even with the natural buoyancy of water imagine of the strain the ligaments and muscles have to endure, even for a short period of time. Fortunately one of the world’s leading experts on baby swimming, Françoise Freedman, has worked with the STA and Shawn Tomlinson to produce a “message of caution” which provides in-depth information about the damaging effect this newest ‘Pamper Experience’ could have. Whilst it may not be a short read it does explain about how babies ‘work’ and provides links to all the relevant and current data to substantiate it. Read the full report ‘The Hidden Risks of Floating Neck Rings for Babies’ HERE
The original idea behind this ‘fad’ came after it was recognised that water floatation tanks can be used to help adults disengage from the stresses and strains of everyday life and somebody, somewhere felt that babies were missing out on this experience! Despite us meeting thousands of children we are yet to meet a baby that was worried about paying the mortgage!
- In 2015 a leading supplier of their own branded neck floatation device recalled THREE THOUSAND units due to them posing a risk of drowning!
- Babies already spend a lot of time in contraptions that isolate them from human contact.
- It will set you back more than £60 an hour to take your newborn to a baby spa!.
“I think it looks horrific; it doesn’t give any consideration to the body posture underwater, and I’m sure could, therefore, do lasting damage. Teaching any age of a child that it’s ok to put things around their neck (which could become instilled behaviour through repeated use) can never be a good thing, and as you say that whole bonding experience of swimming with your baby is lost through the use of these devices.
I would imagine it could also breed complacency in some parents; putting 100% confidence in anything around water will, unfortunately, lead to a terrible accident, and heaven forbid it would take that to end the use of something which looks entirely unbeneficial in the first place.” – Pippa (Aquatot Parent)
We do hope we have provided you with enough information for you to make an informed decision.
Thanks for reading