So you’re in the market for a baby float? Congrats to baby, because she is in for some fun in the sun! But before heading outside, learn which baby float is the best baby float for your child. It all depends on baby’s age and personal preferences—but there are a few other general guidelines to keep in mind when purchasing a baby float. Read on for The Bump guide to baby floats as well as a list of our favorites!
What to Look for When Buying a Baby Float
When shopping for a baby float, there are a few things to keep in mind—including what it’s made of and how much it costs. (On average, a baby float costs between $10 and $30.) But perhaps even more importantly, you’ll need to remember the three S’s: sun protection, safety and size.
Sun Protection Most pediatricians agree that babies should be kept out of direct sunlight until they’re at least 6 months old. But even after those first 6 months—and lathered up with your favorite sunscreen for babies—baby’s skin is still extremely delicate. That’s why you may want to invest in a baby float with a canopy, which is specifically designed for extra sun protection. (But don’t forget the baby sun hat when you’re headed to the pool too!)
Safety When it comes to baby floats, there’s one question people are always asking: Are baby neck floats safe? That’s an important question (and read on for more about that!), but when considering safety, we’re talking about the safety of all baby floats.
So what, in general, makes a baby float safe? Features that prevent and act against leakages, safety valves and seat straps, to name a few. All the things that will keep baby upright, should an accident happen.
Because even with the safest baby float, accidents can happen, which is why you must also remember this: a baby in a baby float must always be supervised. Babies’ muscles are just starting to develop, so you always want to make sure you’re within arm’s reach of the float. That way, you can help prevent any accidents.
Size Baby floats come in all sizes because they’re made for babies of all ages. But here’s something to keep in mind: Some baby floats are designed to actually grow with baby. These baby floats expand as your child gets bigger, so you don’t have to purchase a new float in the future. They also come with added features for the more experienced swimmer, like a handle for the toddler who’s ready to do some kicking.
Best Baby Floats
The best baby floats aren’t just safe for baby, they’re cute too! Some of these baby floats are designed to look like kids’ toys, while others look like miniature versions of our favorite adult floats. (We’ll love you forever, unicorn float!) Scroll to see our favorite baby pool floats.
This junior pool lounger, suitable for babies from 8 to 24 months old, comes complete with a headrest and cushy leg support, plus the ever-necessary repair patch kit. And it’s shaped like everyone’s favorite rubber ducky, which makes it pooltime primed.
Sunnylife Baby Duck Float, $30, Saksfifthavenue.com
Watermelon at the pool? Yes, please! Baby will be irresistible (and hard to miss!) in this bright, poppy baby float, which features features a comfy headrest and leg supports.
Sunnylife Baby Float Watermelon, $20, Amazon.com
This SwimWays baby float is a triple threat: 1) It’s a spring float, which means it has an inner spring that adds comfort and stability. 2) It includes a canopy, which means extra sun protection for baby! And 3) The octopus design is super-cute and offers built-in toys and teether!
SwimWays Baby Spring Float Activity Center, $23, Amazon.com
If you’re shopping for your toddler and are in the market for arm floats, we had to include these: inflatable blue arm floats, or “swimmies,” complete with a big red crab on each arm.
Sunnylife Inflatable Arm Band Crabby, $10, Amazon.com
If Mama’s must-have pool accessory is the unicorn float, then, it only makes sense that baby matches. This baby pool float by pfloat is crafted from PVC material that’s 3mm thick, making it extra secure. It also boasts two airbags for rollover prevention. And it comes with a handle at the front, making it easy for parents to hold on at all times while also floating along.
Float Unicorn Baby Float, $23, Amazon.com
Keep baby close and comfortable with this mommy-and-me baby float by Aqua Leisure. Suitable for baby from 6 to 18 months, it offers a bright, colorful design, and built-in play center and headrest for baby.
Aqua Leisure Baby & Me Baby Boat, $13, Bedbathbeyond.com
Speedo’s baby float with a canopy, available in blue or pink, can hold a baby up to 33 pounds. But the true star of this baby float? Its cushy, well-padded fabric-covered seat, which elevates baby well above the water level for safety and comfort.
Speedo Kids’ Begin to Swim Fabric Baby Cruiser With Canopy, $27, Amazon.com
What’s cool about this baby pool float is that it’s shaped like a boat, complete with a steering wheel (and horn!), so baby knows that she should get moving! It’s suitable for babies 6 to 36 months, and crafted from eco-friendly PVC and non-toxic ink. It even comes complete with a broad canopy for extra sun protection.
WXDZ Baby Pool Floats With Canopy, $19, Amazon.com
While the majority of baby floats on here are ring floats, we would be remiss to leave out this excellent baby float option for babies 12 months or older: a baby float suit! It’s adjustable in size and comes with eight removable floats. As baby learns to swim, you can slowly remove the floats, but in the meantime, you can rest easy knowing your baby has the extra protection she needs. While this baby swim float jacket is pink with a white ribbons, the suits are available in many different colors and three different sizes to grow with baby.
Zerlar Swimwear Float Suit With Adjustable Buoyancy, $35 to $45 (depending on size), Amazon.com
Finally, a pool float for twin babies. (Or siblings very close in age!) This double-harness float, made by Stuff 4 Multiples, seats the babies in two connected rings, facing each other, making it easy for them to play together—and for mom and dad to keep an eye on both. The float holds up to 30 pounds per seat, making it suitable for babies from 6 to 36 months.
Stuff 4 Multiples Duo Twin Pool Float, $40 (to pre-order now), Stuff4multiples.com
Best Baby Neck Floats
Now onto a more hotly debated topic in the baby float world: baby neck floats. As the name suggests, baby neck floats circle a baby’s neck, leaving the legs and arms free to explore. True, they do look a little strange on, perhaps even uncomfortable, but according to those that sell them, they encourage muscle coordination, strengthen the respiratory system and ease digestion, to name a few reported perks.
But are baby neck floats safe?
The jury’s out on this one. Some pediatricians support the baby neck float craze, saying by putting the float at the neck instead of the waist, more of baby’s body is able to move freely. More movement means more muscle development, right? Still, other pediatricians note that much of a baby’s development is happening at the head and neck, which means you have to be extra careful with those areas. Those doctors don’t support baby neck floats, recommending traditional floats—like those listed in the section above—instead.
If you want to try a baby neck float, either in a pool or in a bathtub, The Bump recommends pediatrician-tested Otteroo. Designed for babies 2 months and older, Otteroo baby neck floats feature a chin rest, click-in safety belt and toxin-free materials. Nevertheless, we still recommend discussing with your doctor before using a baby neck float on your own baby.
Otteroo Baby Floatie, $35, Shop.otteroo.com
Best Baby Floats With Canopy
One thing we can all agree on when it comes to baby floats: The more sun protection, the better! Which is why parents love baby floats with canopies. Those little baby pool float attachments are like umbrellas, blocking out potentially harmful UV rays. Of course, babies still need sunscreen—at least 50 SPF is best. But canopy baby floats are just one more way to ensure that baby stays shaded.
This super-cute and colorful baby float buggy has a Flinestones-style topper that keeps the rays away—while also looking like a pretty cool sports car for baby or toddler, because it can safely hold up to 60 pounds.
Poolmaster Baby Buggy, $32, Target.com
Poolmaster’s nautical-themed duck baby float with canopy is a cutie. The comfortable drop seat will hold children up to 2 years old (or 40 pounds), while that striped topper blocks the sun.
Poolmaster Baby Duck Rider, $22, Target.com
A baby pool float with a palm tree that doubles as a canopy? Talk about good vibes. This one has a frog-shaped bottom and comes with an inflatable frog toy for pooltime play. Pop-up eyes also give baby something fun to hold onto while whizzing around the pool.
Poolmaster Baby Frog Rider, $14, Amazon.com
Attack mode! This bright blue, shark-themed baby float with canopy is part of Aqua Leisure’s Swim School Swim Training System. Recommended for ages 6 to 18 months, it introduces baby to the joys of the water while keeping baby safe and cozy, thanks to a reinforced web seat, which makes it a particularly secure ride.
Aqua Leisure Friendly Shark Baby Boat, $16, Amazon.com
Intex’s Kiddie Float, meant to hold babies up to 33 pounds, offers a burst of sunshine yellow and a play bar to keep baby busy. Plus, it’s crafted from 10-gauge vinyl, making it one of the strongest, most secure baby floats on the list.
Intex Kiddie Float With Sun Shade and Toys, $13, Bedbathbeyond.com