When it comes to floatation devices, there are many factors to consider. You can’t simply pick anything at the store and hope it will be secure. After all, our children’s lives rely on the safety of these products. Today, we are taking a closer look at puddle jumpers.

What are Puddle Jumpers?

First, let’s talk about what makes a puddle jumper. Puddle jumpers are similar to a life jacket, but specially designed for young children. They are very different from floaties or swimmies, which are quite dangerous.

The best way to describe puddle jumpers is that they are sort of a combination between a life jacket and swim vest with extra support. To use them, a child slips his or her arms through the arm floats. After, the device is buckled behind the back.

Are Puddle Jumpers Safe to Use?

As for whether or not a puddle jumper is safe to use, that is a complicated question. As we have mentioned, floaties used to be the old standby for children in the water. Over time, these devices have become widely known as dangerous and prone to potential drowning danger. These water wings can pop or even leave kids in unsafe positions while floating in the water.

Put simply, puddle jumpers are the evolution of this idea, but with additional safety features. Unlike floaties, many puddle jumpers are considered safe by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). As we have mentioned in the past, floatation devices should always be approved by the USCG. They provide necessary safety checks to ensure maximum protection from drowning. As always, choose a USCG-approved device and follow all instructions to stay as secure as possible.

What Could Go Wrong?

That said, there are still a few reasons to be leery about using puddle jumpers. For one, they are not built for children after they’ve already learned to swim. They also shouldn’t be used while trying to teach kids how to stay afloat. Unfortunately, most parents tend to use these floatation devices before the child knows how to swim.

By design, the puddle jumper forces the child to face upright, as though they are standing in the water. That is good when the device is on, but it can teach a dangerous lesson for later. Staying upright requires more energy to stay afloat and ignores the body’s natural buoyancy. With this method, it takes much more effort to keep the mouth and nose out of the water.

To avoid drowning, a person should be horizontal. Preferably, kids should learn to float on their backs when they are in danger. In essence, it is possible for puddle jumpers to teach impressionable children some bad lessons or give them false confidence.

This story from Good Morning America highlights one family who fears that using a puddle jumper contributed to their child’s drowning incident:


Swimming Lessons and Active Supervision Are Best

When it comes to water safety, swimming lessons should always be the first step. It’s never too late to learn, and many parents might be surprised by just how early our little ones can start lessons. To learn more, read out article about swimming lessons. There are useful links and tips to get started.

Beyond that, always employ active supervision when a child is in the water. Active supervision is much more than simply being near a little swimmer. It requires dedication and zero distractions. An active supervisor should be alert to any potential dangers and ready to act at a moment’s notice.

This piece is not meant to shame anyone who is using puddle jumpers. These products have a place and purpose. However, the main takeaway is that these floatation devices should not be used without proper precautions. Always choose a USCG-approved puddle jumper and be sure to read all of the written instructions.

For true water safety, knowledge is power. The instincts of knowing how to best handle a potential drowning situation will be far more valuable to a child in the long run.

Finally, once a child has learned to swim, stop using puddle jumpers. These may accidentally teach bad lessons or undo some of the good lessons.