Do or Don’t: A Floatie for Babies

Have you seen the Otteroo? It’s a floatie for babies eight weeks and older to use in the bath or pool. Since the inflatable circle attaches around your baby’s neck, their arms and legs are free to play.

My first reaction was: Insane. It looks uncomfortable! And their heads seem so close to the water. But apparently people swear by them. And, if it worked well, how awesome would this be on vacation? When we’re visiting family in California, Toby wears puddle jumpers, but one-year-old Anton is still too little. The Otteroo might be a great solution. So much better (and less tiring) than bouncing babies the whole time at the pool!

Here is a video of the Otteroo in action:

Kind of bizarre, right? Thoughts? Would you ever try it?

P.S. More do or don’ts.

  1. Krista says...

    My concern would be if it have too much strain on the baby’s neck/vertebrae.

  2. Hi all,

    This is Tiffany Chiu, founder of otteroo.

    We have decided to post a voluntary recall on the otteroo float because a small number of the flotation devices sold between January 2014 and November 2014 were reported to have prematurely worn out or deflated prior to or during use. No infant has been injured or hurt as all otteroo parents have to date been responsible and vigilant when using the float as we clearly and repetitively state on our packaging, insert and product. However, as we truly value and want to ensure our customers’ comfort and continued enjoyment when using our products, we have decided to offer a complimentary swap of the 2014 floats with floats produced in 2015 that have a higher level of durability, thicker plastic and new testing standards for air leakage.

    We have been actively working in partnership with the CPSC to establish a new and high standard on infant floats being sold in the USA. Our aim has been to ensure that companies are taking all necessary and cautionary steps to pre-circumvent all hypothetical instances of product malfunction, improper use and unreliable adult supervision that may lead to a child being hurt.

    Please feel free to call or email us if you would like to request any additional information or have any questions about the alert, replacing your 2014 otteroo or on the air leakage tests outlined on the alert, directions and our website.

    Thank you!

  3. Rachel says...

    Hey thought I would comment and let everyone know they just recalled this product because it can break at the seams!

    • Tom says...

      That is only partially correct. According to what otteroo posted, it’s only for floaties sold in 2014

  4. shelly says...

    The lifeguard in me is terrified by this. Echoing what other have said it would give parents a false sense of security. And while most sensible parents would still be vigilant I think its safe to say there are plenty of parents out there who aren’t sensible. The pools I worked at didn’t allow any floats of any sort for children or adults.

    • Tom says...

      I had the same reaction the first time I saw it but I figured my daughter’s development and joy is worth trying new things. She loves it.
      I think the “false sense of security” is an issue with the parents and not the product. Regardless of what I let her do (on land or water) I don’t let her out of my reach.
      Overall, after seeing my LO’s reaction to the otteroo over time – I am a FAN! (and I buy it as a present every chance I get)

  5. We used the Otteroo to help our son transition from his infant tub to the adult bath when he started figuring out how to wiggle out of his infant tub. He wasn’t too interested in the floatie; he just wanted to play in the tub like a big boy. He’s 16 months now and we haven’t ever really used it again. With summer and swimming pools approaching, I think we’ll just try some swimming lessons and see how that goes.

  6. I don’t know if it’s this exact one, but there is a little boy who suffered a serious brain injury when he was hit by a limb that fell from a tree at his day care. His family has posted videos on their facebook page of him using a similar item in the pool. It’s a heartbreaking and inspirational story.

  7. 1) We just tried this thing out with our 5 mo old in a pool and she LOVED it! We alternated between holding her and letting her float around. 2) People are too quick to judge and jump to conclusions about this without knowing anything about it. No one is letting their newborn float off in it, come on. Ours floated for about 5-6 minutes and then we held her in the water for a bit. If you think this thing is a babysitter/lifeguard maybe parenting is not for you…

  8. Just like Keikomermaid, I got a Swimava as a hand-me-down from a Japanese friend. I was horrified by it at first.

    But! My son loved it. It made it easy and fun to take him to the pool and he felt independent and free. I used it from 5 or 6 months old until he hit the maximum weight limit. I can’t wait to take my little daughter to to the pool with it!

    I totally recommend this. Btw, the kid is not getting choked in any way and is not going to fall out. And you are not chucking them in the water or abandoning them–you obviously need to stay right next to the baby.

  9. I second what Monica says. This is not a swimming instructor!
    All the same, while all this plastic is creeping into our lives, what use are we as parents? Couldn’t we just hold our little ones while in the pool??
    Isn’t skin to skin touch and the knowledge that safety is with the or care giver/parent etc.? I think or children have better chances of learning, acclimatizing, developing etc. Withen the save arms and full attention of a family member/care giver. Good for her. Not for me.

  10. seems like the device could potentially create a false sense of security for parents with their babies in water. i’m sure it’s great in some situations but i just couldn’t do it. interesting concept though. i would be nervous to be the creator and manufacturer of this product in our litigious society.

  11. Just wanted to mention to everyone that the Otteroo and other devices like it are not meant to teach the baby how to swim. I think the main purpose is to give babies a chance to be in the water and have a little freedom to move their own arms and legs.

  12. As a parent, swimmer, swim instructor and former lifeguard I think this is ridiculous. This isn’t how we learn to swim. If you’re heading to the water with a kiddo who is in arms and is too young to be submerged you can always get yourself a water ring sling to use. I’m also a babywearing eucator and found the water ring slings perfect with smaller babies. When my son was younger it was perfect. He would rather splash and play now that he is older but, putting an inntertube around his neck is the last thing I would do to promote his love of water.

  13. My friend pulled this out for her little one at a pool party last year and at first the idea seemed terrifying to me, but her little boy had such a blast. We still stayed in the shallow end of the pool and stayed RIGHT next to him at all times. It just gave the baby a bit more freedom to move his limbs and he loved it.

  14. I can see it with little littles, but my son, who is the same age as Anton, would hate it. He likes to do his thing and with this over his head he’d go apesh@t.

  15. Joanna,

    It looks very intimidating and easy to knock as crazy at first but is amazing for the little ones. In Houston, we have something called Float Baby, which is one of the first Water Therapy places for babies in the US.
    Sue, a previous commenter mentioned that it is unsafe which is very inaccurate. I have taken my daughter there from 5 weeks and have loved it. I can personally say that is extremely safe and very well monitored by Kristi Ison the owner.
    Benefits include: increased Muscular and skeletal strength, increased lung capacity and respiratory strength from breathing against the water, improved blood flow AND they sleep really well after a float session.
    I highly recommend it and even looking at the website for more information.


  16. Seems like a nice way for me to be able to join the family in the pool rather than being sidelined with the new baby or having to carry her constantly. Think I might try it this summer. I’m confident I wouldn’t be taking my eyes off her…I’m less confident about my ability to keep her sunproofed in it though. Maybe a big floppy sunhat would provide enough coverage?

  17. It is too terrifying to me, sorry! I don’t like how it constrains the neck and head. The baby’s vision also seems limited by this…I don’t know. I can understand how it can be a solution for some parents but I cannot get past my issue with the neck and that their arms and hands are under water. No, thanks.

  18. I found no evidence online of this product being Coast Guard Approved. I urge you to consider the safety risks before the attractiveness of having your baby in the water.

    Puddle Jumpers are Coast Guard Approved though so right on! :)

  19. Swim lessons!!!! Start em early and continue throughout toddler years. Especially if you have a pool or live near the water.

  20. No, I would never try it and especially for a kid as small as 8 weeks; I would never give it a second thought ! Why to take a risk?

  21. I would be a nervous wreck using this, but I could see why others would like it. In Amy Poehler’s words, “Good for her! Not for me.”

  22. this is ridiculous looking! Couldn’t they come up with a smaller cuter ring?! We put a man on the moon, I think we could! Come on America!

  23. It’s very common in Russia. Asia influence, I guess. I used it with my kid. I was skeptical at first, but It’s very convenient and the baby loves it! Then, after the baby sits up, it’s no use.

  24. I grew up swimming at the National Seashore on the Cape. Any type of flotation device was strictly forbidden. The theory is that little kids could just float away if you aren’t paying attention.

    My takeaway has always been that flotation shouldn’t be a stand in for learning to swim (early!) and parental supervision.

    Like Betsy mentioned above – this is terrifying.

  25. I don’t think I could handle it. I don’t want to be more nervous at the pool than I already am! For carrying a baby around in the water, a water sling is very handy and a little less nerve-wracking.

  26. Just looking at it makes me feel claustrophobic! The video made me slightly more comfortable with it but still, I probably couldn’t bring myself to use it if I had a baby!

  27. I’ll second what a few others have said. I think it is much better to get babies acclimated to water and used to having their faces and heads wet. It is so hard to overcome a kid’s natural desire to keep their heads out of water when you are teaching them to swim. Ban the floaties and get kids swimming.

  28. amoscari, apparently there are little holes to drain any water that splashes up. it’s clever but so odd!

  29. I don’t have any kids, but when I do you won’t catch them in that thing. What if water splashes inside the floaty where the baby’s head is? Seems really dangerous.

  30. Er… no. I can’t see why wrapping a giant piece of plastic around your kid’s neck would be a good idea.

  31. i used to be a lifeguard at my local pool and the reason that floaties were banned at our pool was because parents tend to let them be the babysitters and more accidents happened with them than without them. obviously you wouldn’t be leaving such a tiny baby unattended but i’m still wary of them. life vests (for older kids, at least) are better for flotation assistance since at least the kids are floating on their tummies/back which is the correct way to learn to swim. kids that learn to swim after relying on arm floaties have a hard time figuring out correct technique because they’re scissoring their legs vertically and it’s not as productive. my daughter is only 18 months old so i guess we’ll see if i end up practicing what i preach ;)

  32. I would highly recommend something like the Swimways “Baby Spring Float” — it keeps the baby upright, but their legs and arms are free to splash around. Our 14-month old LOVED it on vacation last month, after getting used to it. There’s something very unsettling about the way that head-floatie looks!!!

  33. I want an adult version. We could call it the Walruso. Imagine being on vacation and floating up to pool bar in one of those bad boys?! Complete with drink holder and straw that is placed right in front of your mouth so you don’t have to use your hands?! I say brilliant! Get the whole family in on the insanity.

  34. I agree with all of the “don’ts”. This goes against almost everything we are taught when we have little ones; mostly, don’t put anything around their necks and don’t go far from them when they are in water. I think this will give some people a false sense of security. You should never be farther than an arms length away from your young children in the water.

  35. What a disturbing item!!
    I think I prefer to hold my one-year-old girl with my hands…Next Summer she can use puddle jumpers, like Toby and my eldest girl.

  36. jj says...

    Oh please NO Joanna! I’ve run a swim school in LA ( for the past 20+ years and always advise against floaties of all kinds (yes, even for Toby!). If you notice, floaties, this one included, encourage kids to keep their head out and force their legs to the bottom. Really, we want kids horizontal in the water with their face down and turning onto their back for a breath. Get Toby in swim lessons this summer!

  37. Wow! Joanna it’s weird. Last night I had a dream in which your and my family were vacationing together(LOL) At one point I had to take care of all the kids when they were in the pool and Toby dove right in, Anton was with me but I was having a hard time carrying him and trying to keep his slippery body up in the water. Then I woke up! When I got to the office, I checked out your page, saw this post!

  38. Being Dutch and growing up with water and babies needed to learn how to swim, this thing scares the hell out of me. It is sonincrrdibly dangerous!! One wave, the otterloo will fill up an your baby can drown jn seconds. It seriously only need one wave. These things should be banned and I am not even joking. Please, ifbyouvare around water, put your baby in a class that teatches this:

    I may sound overly protected, buy i am very serious. A lot of childeren die in Holland on a yearly basis. Most of them foreigners who haven’t learned their childeren to deal with water. Please don’t use or recomment these Otterlo’s!

  39. If you would have posted this a few days ago I would have thought it was an April Fool’s joke! The ad could be an SNL skit. I can’t imagine suspending my 8 week old’s head in a pool toy but the video is oddly mesmerizing haha I’m almost tempted to get it :D

  40. Just showed this to my husband and he was like, awesome, let’s get one!

    I’m not sure why this scares people. I mean it’s not like you’re gonna put this on your baby, throw them in the deep end and go get a drink. Of course you would still watch them the whole time and be close enough to grab them. It just looks like a cool way for them to explore!

  41. I have 3 girls and there is absolutely no way I would ever have used this. Freaky Deaky!

  42. The only thing I kept thinking was “I wonder how many babies they had to try this on to get ones that smiled…” it’s an interesting concept but my little guy would have FLIPPED out if I put something for around his neck I think!

  43. When I went to China, I worked in a hospital where they routinely did this daily in the newborn nursery. Parents paid extra to have it done — said to promote digestion and prevent colic! Who knew! The babies loved it – would be screaming before and asleep during and after :)

  44. Unknown, laughing out loud at your note as well!

  45. Brady, just laughed out loud at your comment. (And I know, right??)

  46. We actually have one – am friends with the woman who started the company. My little one tried it at 6 months and loved it. We stayed by her the whole time and it’s definitely a little weird at first but she had a grand ole time in it. We’ve used it since and she loves it.

  47. OMG! As a pediatric nurse this is the stuff of my nightmares!

  48. I bought one over a year ago and used it for my then 6 month old and she loved it! Personally, I would never take it out of the tub. I didn’t view it as a floating alternative, just as a way for baby to move around and be comfortable in the water.

  49. I saw someone use one of these at an onsen in Japan a few years ago-my friend and I kind of freaked out as the family laughed and played with their baby in the water. It seemed SUPER unsafe and really hard on the baby’s neck.

  50. I’m going to tryout one of these when the little man is a bit older, it’s like a shark fin float! Apparently it helps them learn how to swim independently much quicker..
    They sell it on Amazon too.

  51. I checked the date on this post to make sure this wasn’t an April Fool’s Day joke! After I got over the shock, though, I thought it kind of looked like fun!

  52. My sister had an Otteroo for my nephew and he LOVED it. She only used it in her bathtub. Moving around in the water seemed to tire him out in a good way, and she never let him stay in it for too long. It was adorable seeing him grin when she pulled out the Otteroo!

  53. I actually felt nauseous when watching this because I kept thinking of that baby (and my own) slipping through and just sinking like a stone. No way for me!

  54. I’m curious to know what paediatricians and chiropractors think of this device. I wouldn’t be comfortable using this product on a baby. I can just see so many hazards resulting from this floatie.

  55. Joanna — my very first reaction was: no way. Then I watched the video and bought one. What I’m saying is that I’m a sucker.

  56. Hi! I am from singapore and it is really common here. Every mall has this “baby spa” as they call it. They even have packages at few hundred . I personally do not like the look of it and never tried it with my baby.

  57. I really don’t have an opinion…my grandchildren are past the age where this could be used…BUT I doubt that this is designed to be used so an 8 week old would be in a pool without a parent right next to her…or any age baby!

  58. xx says...

    I would be concerned about the pressure rout on the head and neck when using something like this. Would you lift your baby by the head? This product effective does that.

  59. I’m confused on how they don’t slip out but then also don’t get choked at the same time? Or have that bit of plastic edge (where the plastic comes together) rub allover their little necks? I’m not a mom… so maybe I just don’t get it?

  60. Yeah I don’t think I would use this! Just seems sketchy having something hold your baby up by its neck! I would be a nervous wreck so it wouldn’t work for me. Xo

  61. In Japan the Swimava is really popular so I was given a hand-me-down (a great way to try it for free!). My baby seemed to like it but it did kind of make us nervous so we still kept our hands on him. He’s four months old and it sometimes seemed like his chin could easily slide into the opening so maybe with a bigger baby it would be safer?

  62. As a former swim instructor, I don’t understand floats anywhere other than around a child’s waist. Since the waist/back are the areas that need to be high in the water when floating, floats in that area are the only areas that should be used as they’re helping with body placement. This looks like it will keep the baby from getting comfortable with getting their head underwater and it’s also encouraging the baby to be straight up and down in the water – doesn’t make a lot of sense.

  63. Oh My Gosh. I don’t know…maybe? I love that it has handles on it, as if you should pick up the child with the handles on the otteroo. I am sure that they are there for a different purpose but all I can imagine is picking up the otteroo by the handles and the kid hanging there, feet wiggling, head ready to pop through the hole.

  64. This thing…. is actually awesome. We have a handicapped son and I use this for his therapy in the tub and pool. As wierd as it looks it is totally brilliant so it gets a DO.

  65. It looks a little crazy, but I HAVE been wondering how I am going to handle my 2 month old AND my 2 year old in our pool this year. Maybe this is a good solution?

  66. I feel like this will be like a selfie stick – funny at first, but could be really fun and useful. But not gonna lie, I would giggle if I saw someone put their kid in a pool with one of these bad boys.

  67. great idea if it didn’t look so terrifying!

  68. This makes me uncomfortable, as well. I agree with the other concerns mentioned already…And what if there are other kids in the pool, and the water is not calm.

  69. Oh! And it was great to use when we went on vacation and baby was way too young to use a puddle jumper. He could actually move around by himself with this type of floatie!

  70. this made laugh, but also gave me anxiety just watching it! it does look like the baby is having fun (that baby is all kinds of adorable), but i just dont know. i would be terrified my son would tip over or something!

  71. I used the Swimava (similar product) with both of my boys at one month old and they LOVED being able to float around in the water, kick their legs, and just hang out like they used to in the womb. The ring rests under their chin and there is space around the neck so it’s not restricting. It’s adorable to watch them! Plus, helped them sleep well afterwards.

    It seems maybe weird, but it is more common in Asia I think.

  72. This is more common and more widely accepted in asia for use in the bath. Its great exercise and helps baby sleep a lot better. A lot of baby spa places offer this in London. I think its a great idea but a lot of westerners think it’s cruel blah blah blah….

  73. Seems like a very late April Fool’s joke!

  74. No!! I’m really claustrophobic around the neck. I think I’d rather just go into a pool with my kid haha -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

  75. At first glance this was terrifying, but after watching the babies in the video it seems fantastic! Such a good way for babies to discover how to move and control their little bodies.

  76. It’s an interesting idea. I can’t help but wonder, why the rush to get kids to “have fun” and explore in the water at such a young age? I prefer waiting until kid’s bodies are naturally able to do certain activities. That way everyone enjoys the experience!

  77. One of my friends posted photos of her kid in one of these, and my first thought was the same as your’s. Then after thinking about it, I think it’s a great way for kids to get used to being in the water and learning how to move and plan in the water?

  78. Oh man. I’m a pretty laid back parent but this is too much, even for me. I wouldn’t be comfortable wrapping a bunch of plastic around my kid’s neck and chucking them in the water. Besides, I quite like carrying my buoyant babies around the pool, so it doesn’t seem like a problem that needs solving.

  79. That is terrifying! I love the water and really love playing with my little ones at the pool and beach, so I would never use this based on personal preference.

    My concern is that it would lull some parents into a false sense of security about their babies’ well-being in the water, not unlike when parents pay less attention when a lifeguard is on duty.

  80. There is a spa in Houston that has something similar to these and advertises all kinds of benefits. It looks insanely unsafe, but maybe babies love it.

  81. After watching the video, it makes a little more sense… but it still looks ridiculous! Especially the shot of the baby just floating around in the small pool by itself!

  82. This made me laugh out loud/ I kind of want to get one for myself — imagine using it in ocean and just floating around on a hot day. it could probably put you to sleep!