Have you heard of this new thing – the baby neck float? The first time I saw a picture of a baby in these neck floats, I thought it was a joke.. I HAD to do some research about this, cos it just looked unsafe to me. But if it’s on the market it has to be safe, right? Well, the results I found have proven otherwise!
What is the baby neck float? It’s basically an inflatable ring that sits around your baby’s neck while they float in the water. It keeps your baby’s head, and ONLY his head, above water! I mean, when you think of your child’s safety, is a tight plastic ring around their neck something you would consider as safe?
Some of these neck floats advertise that they will “help your baby learn how to swim”. Babies don’t learn how to swim with an inflatable ring around their neck.. All it will help him do is learn how to dangle in the water like seaweed under a boat.
The Swimming Teachers’ Association (STA), an independent charity, and Birthlight, a non-profit organisation have highlighted the “damaging” effects placing babies in floating neck rings could have on their physical, neurological and emotional development.
Apart from looking extremely uncomfortable and unnatural, this float restricts head and neck movement. Experts are also warning parents about the risks behind this neck float. Françoise Freedman, founder of Birthlight, said,”There are the potential risks linked to the frequent use of a neck device that claims total safety and apparent comfort for babies, yet deprives them of the freedom to move, which we now know can have long-term implications.”
“When babies hang vertically in water with their heads supported by a semi-rigid foam structure – particularly those under 5 months – concern arises about compression of the soft and subtle vertebrae in their necks, and strain in ligaments and muscles.”
“When babies over three months are placed in neck rings, this may also interfere with the neuro pathways associated with the head-righting reflex that helps babies aged between 3 and 6 months respond to their spontaneous desire to sit up. It takes a disproportionate effort and muscular tension for babies in neck rings to try and right themselves up, which they are naturally driven to do.”
“This isolated activity completely goes against the very essence of baby swimming, which is human contact: bonding with your child so they can explore the water in a safe, relaxed, fun environment.”
You can read the full report here if you need more convincing. If you’re thinking, “Then what do I do if I want to take my little one swimming?”. Well, you have two options:
- Hold your baby in your arms while you ‘splash’ in the water. It is the best bonding experience, and they enjoy it so much!
- You can always go for much safer baby float options, there are plenty of them on the market!