In the past, it was pretty easy to find the best baby floats out there. There was probably only one option. However, as with most things, people have improved and innovated new designs to make baby floats more fun, safe, and helpful in preparing your child to learn to swim independently. How can a baby float be that amazing? Well, it’s pretty surprising some of the options available now, so read on to find out the 5 best baby floats out there.
Or if you want to read a bit more in-depth about each one individually, check out my posts below:
LAYCOL Baby Swimming Float with Canopy
Since most parents’ number one priority is safety, I of course want to cover that first in my reviews of pool floats. The LAYCOL Baby Swimming Float has a special design with high and wide sides. This wide base makes it difficult to flip and even the wildest child won’t be able to do it.
The front of the float has a pretty large hump and it is a perfect little pillow for your baby to rest on while he or she is in the backstroke position. This hump also makes it difficult for your baby to put their arms straight in front of them. Instead, they have to paddle slightly forward and to the side where there is a slight divet perfect for baby arms. A passing glance may not notice that this makes it nearly impossible to flip this baby float. With your baby positioned diagonally in the water and their arms to the side, they are well balanced in the water.
The LAYCOL Baby Swimming Float with Canopy is made of PVC materials. It has passed the CPC standards for child safety, which is the highest standard to meet. It is completely safe for baby skin and will be difficult to pop.
Since the LAYCOL baby float is inflatable, it is easy to transport from place to place. Deflated it can fit into a purse. Even while it is inflated, it could be easily strapped to a diaper bag handle and be toted along into the pool, if you don’t want to trouble yourself while you’re there.
One thing that makes the LAYCOL Baby Swimming Float even more convenient than other inflatable floats is that it comes with a hand held pump. This pump can fit into your purse and it saves you your breath when you take it on the go. Most people could easily handle pumping up this inflatable float, because it isn’t huge, but it is nice to have the option of not having to put your lips on it.
This float also comes with a couple toys that are similar to your classic rubber ducky. These will encourage your child to learn how to paddle and navigate around the pool by kicking and splashing.
The LAYCOL Baby Swimming Float does come with a removable canopy. On hot summer days where the sun is blazing down, this is a nice little feature that will keep your child safer from the sun’s rays. And when you go to the indoor pools you can remove it and have one less thing to carry.
One of the reasons I love the LAYCOL Baby Swimming Float, along with the Free Swimming Float and the Mambobaby float is that they prepare your baby for swimming better than other floats on the market. Most baby floats up until recently have had your baby sitting upright in a floatation ring of some sort. But that isn’t how anyone normally swims. When you learn to swim, you position yourself more horizontally, which is what the LAYCOL Baby Swimming Float does.
This float prepares your child to be in the correct position to learn how to swim, which is helpful for swim instruction as well as water safety.
You can view the positioning in the video below. This is a different design that you are perhaps used to from your own childhood, but it is obvious how this position can help your baby learn to swim.
Free Swimming Baby Inflatable Baby Swim Float
The Free Swimming Baby Inflatable Baby Swim Float is similar to the LAYCOL in its design, so many of the features are the same. When it comes to safety, the Free Swimming Baby Float is just as safe as the LAYCOL for the same reasons. It has a high front that will keep your baby from flipping forward. There is a notch for your child to hold his or her arms out to the side but they cannot easily go in front of them. And there are back floats to keep your child’s torso up on the surface of the water.
Flipping this floaty would be a huge challenge for any baby. However, you should always be within arms reach of your child while they are in a pool or body of water.
The Free Swimming Baby Float is made from vinyl, which is typical for pool floats. It might not be the most durable thing on the market but should take you through at least a swimming season if not until your baby grows out of it. Of course, just take extra care not to drag it on cement or leave it on sharp rocks at the beach. It is similar to any other pool floaty, so take the same precautions as you would with those.
This, like the LAYCOL, is very easy to transport because it is inflatable. You can easily fit it into a beach bag and tote it around with you places.
The Free Swimming Baby Inflatable Float comes with a pump and two rattling balls that are within the float itself.
I do have to say that as far as the extras go, I’m not as impressed with this one as some of the others. Kids do like to make noise and it is exciting for them to realize that they are making noise when they move. However, I think it’s more interesting for them to be able to chase a pool toy.
Pool toys are cheap though, and you can of course buy your own separately. So this little detail has nothing to do with how the float performs or the design of the float.
The Free Swimming Baby Inflatable Swim Float does have an option for a sun canopy. Some sellers have that one in stock and others sell the older version that does not have the canopy. So if that is a feature that you want, make sure that you are selecting the one with the canopy.
This one is similar to the LAYCOL and the Mambobaby because it has your baby positioned horizontally. This will prepare your baby to swim on its own later. If you want to increase your child’s comfort level in the water, then help them practice maneuvering their body around by giving them objects to try and swim towards.
Swim School Baby Boat
The Swim School Baby Boat has an inner inflatable ring that your baby sits in and then an outer ring that is connected with a mesh fabric. This gives the floaty a very wide base, making it nearly impossible for your baby to flip. Most babies flip floats because the base is not wide enough or because they are reaching too far over the side and flip it over. The Swim School Baby boat has a wide base and the mesh fabric allows water to rise above it. This serves as a perfect play area for your baby to splash in and will avoid your child reaching too far over to paddle around.
Although the inner ring of the Swim School Baby Boat is made of a similar material as the outer layer of the LAYCOL and the Free Swimming float, the Swim School Baby Boat is just a little more durable. I say this because it is covered in a fabric liner that is much less susceptible to pops. This fabric layer may drag along the concrete edge of a pool or be pushed aside onto some rocks, but it will still stay strong because the outer fabric layer protects the inner tube.
The Swim School Baby Boat is very portable. It is lightweight and can be compressed down to a very small size. All deflated, it is about the size of a windshield protector screen. It is very easy to inflate and deflate at a moment’s notice. In fact, this particular floaty is even easier to inflate than some of the others on this list because it doesn’t have the high volume of air that needs to be blown into it.
This floaty is much thinner than some of the other ones, though it has a widespread out base. It takes very little effort to blow it up.
One thing that I love about the Swim School Baby Boat is that it has an inner ring and an outer ring with a mesh liner between the two. This gives your baby a solid base that will never flip while also allowing them space where they can play safely in the water.
Your child can play with toys without dropping them or having them float away. They can splash around without stretching too far over and flipping the float.
This floaty comes with a removable canopy. You can use it on sunny days or opt-out when you go to the inside pool.
The Swim School Baby Boat does not prepare your child to swim like the LAYCOL, Free Swimming, and Mambobaby floats do. It doesn’t put your child in a horizontal position. However, it does offer a fun and easy way for your baby to be introduced to the water. A horizontal position may be scary for some children, especially for those who are wary of water to begin with. The Swim School Baby Boat is a perfect option for children who are just starting to familiarize themselves with the water.
You can see how your baby would be positioned in the video below. It is apparent that it is a very fun float for your baby and comfortable for them to be in, even if it doesn’t position them for independent swimming.
Mambobaby Non-Inflatable Float
Mambobaby has made all the necessary developments in this baby float to ensure that your baby will be as safe as can be in the water. This baby float has a wide base, safety straps, and a floaty tail that will keep your baby from flipping over. All these work together to make sure that your baby is comfortable and safe at all times.
The Mambobaby Non-Inflatable Float is among the most durable baby floats on this list. The biggest reason for this is that it isn’t inflatable. What is the reason most pool floats are thrown away? Because they pop.
If you don’t inflate, then there’s no way it can pop. It really is a genius idea and one that most parents love. No one wants to go to the pool just to realize that their float has a leak.
The Mambobaby float is made from pearl foam. This is best described as small beads of a styrofoam kind of material. It can be manipulated slightly, but the outside layers of waterproof surface and faux leather make it hold its shape. All of these materials are very difficult to scratch or tear and this product just might be the most durable pool float ever.
Although this pool float cannot be deflated, it is very lightweight. You can easily tote this float around with you, but you could never deflate it or compress it down to something that you could fit into a purse. It is definitely not the most portable float on this list, but it is definitely doable. In fact, if you have a stroller or a free bag handle, you could hook it onto one of those things to tote it around.
The Mambobaby float does not have any extra toys but it does come with a pair of baby sunglasses. These are fun for your baby to wear or play with and it’s also such a great way to protect your child’s eye from the reflecting sunlight in the pool.
As mentioned above, the Mambobaby float comes with sunglasses, which protect your baby’s eyes. This float also comes with a removable canopy.
Like the LAYCOL and Free Swimming floats, the Mambobaby float puts your baby in the horizontal position that makes learning to swim much easier. The transition between playing suspended in the water and learning to swim independently will be much smoother when your baby already knows what position to be in. Some children are nervous putting their faces so close to the water, but a baby that uses the Mambobaby float will be very used to this position.
SwimWays Baby Spring Float with Activity Center
The SwimWays Baby Spring Float is nearly identical to the Swim School Baby Boat. This one has an inner inflatable section where your baby sits and then another outer inflatable ring connected by mesh fabric.
As mentioned with the Swim School Baby Boat, this allows your baby to have a fun area to splash around in and doesn’t encourage them to reach too far over the sides, which can flip the inflatable. It also provides a wide base, which makes it nearly impossible to flip.
I do feel that the floaties that are encased in some sort of fabric are much more durable than the ones that are only made out of vinyl. Vinyl plastic is so easy to pop by dragging it on the ground or on the concrete. It can also be damaged by being out in the scorching sun. The fabric provides just an extra layer of protection between the poppable plastic and the ground. The Swimways Baby Spring Float is completely covered in fabric, so you know it’s going to last a long time.
The SwimWays Baby Spring Float is easy to tote around. It even comes with a carrying case, which makes it just that much easier to bring along with you and keep tidy in the times between uses.
The SwimWays Baby Spring Float comes with an activity center. This consists of:
I don’t know about you, but my kids love anything with a face. Your child can turn the octopus around 360 degrees and it has a cute, friendly face that your baby will love to interact with.
Babies love textures and the soft start is a great texture to explore.
As your child gets a bit older, they will enjoy stacking rings while working on fine motor skills.
This fish toy is interesting and squishy! Your little one will love to feel the different textures and explore them with their hands, eyes, and mouth.
The squeaker fish is one of the best toys on the SwimWays Baby Spring Float. It has an interesting shape and bumps sticking out of it. Your baby will love exploring it and learning about cause and effect with the squeaking function.
I always enjoy when a baby product comes with some extra toys because my babies have something to look forward to when they are put into that baby product. This can be especially helpful when you have a child who is a little nervous about the water. If you can get them distracted with some toys, you might have a little more success getting them into the seat and playing happily in the water.
The SwimWays Baby Spring Float also comes with a removable canopy. YOu can be sure that your baby will always be safe and protected with this floaty. And for the times taht you don’t want to use the canopy, you can still store it in the carrying case while using the rest of the base.
Like the Free Swimming Baby Inflatable, the SwimWays float doesn’t exactly prepare your baby to be in the right position for swimming. Your baby will be sitting suspended vertically in the water. Your child will be very comfortable, but probably won’t naturally know that you should position yourself horizontally in the water when the time comes.
However, getting your child comfortable in the water starts with being okay getting wet, and having fun in the water. If you have a child who can get nervous in the water, I would imagine that this is a float that will make them feel much more at ease than perhaps the ones that position your baby horizontally in the water.
Overall, the baby floats have two similar camps, the horizontal position and the vertical. Both are great options and both are floats that your child will likely enjoy on a hot summer day. Here are my favorite features of each one:
Any one of these options is safe and fun for your child. You will enjoy seemingly endless hours of fun in the pool playing alongside your baby. And this offers you a small break from carrying your baby on your hip. These baby floats are all great options, but you can decide which one would be best for you and your family.