All through high school and college, I spent my summers sitting on a lifeguard chair and blowing my whistle to enforce pool rules and keep kids safe. While most parents agreed with the majority of the pool rules, there was one that many seemed to have a hard time understanding – no water wings allowed. While parents often saw water wings as a way to keep kids safe and happy at the pool, as a lifeguard I saw them as a danger. As a parent myself now, I definitely see the convenience of water wings but, knowing how dangerous they can be, I don't allow my son to wear them. Here are three big reasons why many pools don't allow water-wings.
Water wings lead to a false sense of security
While you would never turn your head away from a little one splashing in open water, when you feel confident that your little one is being held safely above water with their water wings, it can be tempting to turn your attention elsewhere. Whether you're watching an older sibling going down the slide or scrolling through your newsfeed, it only takes a second for disaster to strike. Water wings can slip off little arms or deflate very quickly and, with your attention elsewhere, you might not notice right away.
When a toddler is wearing water wings, their arms are usually spread at an unnatural angle, making it really difficult for them to paddle or maneuver around the pool. One of the most important water-safety skills your child can learn is effective swimming, but if they spend the summer in water wings they won't have the opportunity to do so.
Never going under water can make kids more fearful of going under water
Going under and kicking your way back up (with supervision of course) is just a part of learning to swim. When kids spend all their pool time with their hair dry and face above water, they can develop a fear of going under that could linger for a long time. Help your little one learn to be comfortable blowing bubbles and going under by removing the water wings and supervising them as they learn to bob up and down.
While it can be tempting to stick your child's arms into water wings before heading to the pool this summer, you might want to reconsider. It can be scary to watch them splash and get wet without a floaty but with your love and attention (and maybe some swim lessons) your little one will be comfortable in the water in no time!
Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. Julia lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. You can find more of her work at JuliaPelly.com ... More
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