Why the FDA Is Asking Parents to Stop Using Neck Floats

Why the FDA Is Asking Parents to Stop Using Neck Floats

Marketed for bath time fun and water therapy, neck floats have now been attributed to the death of one baby and the injury of another.
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profile picture of Wyndi Kappes
Assistant Editor
June 30, 2022
baby wearing a neck float in bathtub
Image: New Africa/Shutterstock

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now cautioning parents against using baby neck floats after one child has died and another has been injured while using the product.

Baby neck floats were introduced as a fun and functional water accessory designed to support baby’s head so they can float freely in the water. Commonly used in pools and at bathtime, over the past few years, the device has even been marketed to help with water therapy, especially among babies with special needs or disabilities.

While the FDA is aware of these claims, the agency insists that “The safety and effectiveness of neck floats to build strength, to promote motor development or as a physical therapy tool, have not been established.” Not only are these statements unsupported though, but they also pose a great risk to babies and their caregivers who may believe their child to be safe and supported.

In the warning, the FDA outlines the significant dangers to baby, saying, “The risks of using baby neck floats include death due to drowning and suffocation, strain, and injury to a baby’s neck. Babies with special needs such as spina bifida or SMA Type 1 may be at an increased risk for serious injury.”

This is not the first red flag raised against the neck floats. In a 2019 interview with Good Housekeeping, Kyran Quinlan, former chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention, said that neck floats were “Potential death traps…To have your precious baby one poorly sealed seam away from going under at the pool is frightening."

For years the AAP has been against the use of floaties in any capacity for this reason. The organization has stated in its pool safety guidelines that “Inflatable swimming aids such as floaties are not a substitute for approved life jackets and can give children and parents a false sense of security.” Instead, the AAP recommends that whenever a child under five is in the pool, an adult should be within arm’s length, providing “touch supervision.”

For more on approved devices and products to keep your child safe, check out these pool safety tips sourced from Bump parents or read more about summer safety here.

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