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The 5 Best Arm Floats & Life Jackets for Kids [2023]

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Amar Hussain
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Amar Hussain

Senior Content Contributor

774 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 63U.S. States Visited: 9

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now Editor-in-Chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Swim aids help keep your child afloat and give them more confidence in the water. From life jackets that are worn across the chest to armbands that can be slid on and off easily, the right swim aid for your little one will help you both feel more relaxed in the water.

Things To Consider With Arm Floats

Although they may all work in pretty much the same way, not all life vests and arm floats are the same. Before you buy, consider the following:

Size

Arm floats size
Most arm floats will come with age and weight recommendations. Image Credit: Amar Hussain

Different makes and models are designed to be worn by children of different sizes and weights. Most will come with age and weight recommendations, and you should always ensure that the floatation device you choose isn’t too tight — or too loose — on your child.

Design

Arm floats design
Some arm floats are simple inflatable rubber pieces that are worn on the upper arms. Image Credit: Amar Hussain

Some arm floats are simple inflatable rubber pieces that are worn high up on the arms, while others are attached to a vest to ensure that they stay in place and offer increased protection for younger children and babies.

Whatever style and design you choose, they each have their benefits. For example, chest vests offer greater protection and increased buoyancy but can feel restrictive. Arm floats on their own make it easier for beginner swimmers to enjoy an increased range of movement in the water.

Material

Arm floats material
Most arm floats are made from non-toxic PVC. Image Credit: Amar Hussain

Most arm floats are made from non-toxic PVC that won’t lose buoyancy in the water. Modern-day arm floats are designed not to chafe the skin or cause nasty rashes in the water, but they can still be a little harsh on delicate skin, especially in saltwater.

Hot Tip: If you’re worried about your child’s skin, look for brands that offer a fabric cover on the floats to ensure the same level of buoyancy without worrying about damage to the skin.

Benefits

Arm floats let your child enjoy the feeling of buoyancy in the water. This, in turn, gives them the confidence to move their arms and kick their legs, which is a great way to start them off swimming.

On the other hand, some parents are not huge proponents of using swim aids, as they feel that children become too dependent on them and that the floating position causes incorrect posture for efficient swimming when it’s time to take the swim aids off.

The 5 Best Arm Floats & Life Jackets for Kids

There are lots of great arm floats and life jackets to choose from, but here are 5 of the best:

1. Cutest Chest-and-Armband Swim Aid

Stearns Original Puddle Jumper Kids Life Jacket

This snug-fitting life jacket is available in a range of cute designs and is perfect for infant swimmers.

Approved by the U.S. Coast Guard for Type V/III personal use, it will keep your little ones safe in the water.

With adjustable straps to fit children between 30 and 50 pounds, and safety buckle straps at the back to ensure that it remains secure. It’s made from soft and skin-friendly polyester to prevent rashes and chafing in the water.

In addition, the attached armbands offer increased buoyancy, and the design leaves your child’s body, arms, and legs free, urging them to kick to keep themselves afloat.

What We Like

  • This is a must-have for little swimmers

What We Don’t Like

  • Colors aren’t as bright in person as they are on the screen

Hot Tip: For more fun in the sun, check out our guide to the best pool, beach, lake, and river floats.

2. The Best Combo Float

Check on Walmart

Body Glove Paddle Pals Life Jacket

Approved by the U.S. Coast Guard, these life jackets have attached armbands to help teach your children to swim safely.

The integrated shoulder harness prevents young children from removing the vest on their own, keeping them out of any potential danger, and the soft, durable polyester material and multi-panel design are comfortable against delicate skin.

With an adjustable chest strap and a quick-release safety buckle, this life jacket is also an approved Type III child’s flotation device for recreational boating, and the fun holographic design is sure to be a big hit with small children.

What We Like

  • It’s a safe and cute life jacket

What We Don’t Like

  • It does seem a little tight on children over 30 to 50 pounds

3. A Great Multi-Pack Value

Check on Walmart

Corrines 7 Pack Kids Children Adult Swimming Arm Float

Perfect for family vacations, this set comes with 3 pairs of arm floats and a useful pump to blow them up. Made from high-quality, non-toxic PVC material that comes in a selection of colors, your little ones can be in and out of the pool all day.

Easy to inflate using your mouth or with the included pump, these armbands are a trusted favorite with parents everywhere. When not in use, they can be folded up for easy storage in your suitcase or back at home.

What We Like

  • Simple and effective

What We Don’t Like

  • There’s a chance they’ll irritate sensitive skin

4. The Softest Arm Floats for Delicate Skin

Speedo Kids’ Begin to Swim Vinyl Basic Arm Bands

Cute and easy to use, these arm floats from the swimming experts at Speedo are a great choice for younger children.

Available in a choice of bright and colorful designs, they’re made with a soft polyester cover to prevent rashes or chafing.

The highly visible, brightly colored inner fabric makes them easy to spot in the pool. Suitable for little swimmers between the ages of 2 and 12, they offer support and buoyancy for children weighing up to 110 pounds.

What We Like

  • The fabric covers are a genius idea

What We Don’t Like

  • They are quite wide

5. The Best Value Everyday Arm Floats

Topsung Floaties Inflatable Swim Arm Bands

With a double airbag design, these offer extra security and safety for little ones in the water. Suitable for children weighing up to 22 pounds, they’re made from non-toxic PVC material, and this set includes 1 pair of blue and 1 pair of orange arm floats.

Easy to inflate, they can be gently slipped over the arm, and when it’s time to dry off, they can be deflated and stored away until next time.

What We Like

  • These awesome armbands can grow with your children and be used for years

What We Don’t Like

  • They tend to deflate quite quickly

Final Thoughts

The right pair of arm floats will help your child feel safe and confident in the water and make the overall experience more enjoyable for the child and their parents.


All information and content provided by Upgraded Points is intended as general information and for educational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as medical advice or legal advice. For more information, see our Medical & Legal Disclaimers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are arm floats safe?

Arm floats can give new swimmers confidence and offer some buoyancy but are never a substitute for adult supervision. Many are also not recognized as personal flotation devices.

What age are arm floats for?

Most arm floats, particularly for very young children, are rated for weight rather than age. Smaller arm floats are for children weighing around 30 pounds, which is usually around the 2-year-old mark.

Do water wings work?

There are many different water wings on the market which have varying levels of effectiveness. Additionally, manufacturers such as Body Glove and Stearns produce water wing/mini lifejacket combos that are approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.

What are arm floaties called?

Arm floaties are often called arm floats, inflatable armbands, and water wings.

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About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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