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The Most Dangerous Pool Toy For Your Baby?

Kyran Quinlan, an associate professor of pediatrics at Rush University Medical Center, told NBC affiliate WDSU that these devices “scare me to death.”

They come in many different types, shapes and colors. You can get them at every Walmart, every supermarket and they have been recommended as 'safety' products for babies and children since we can remember. So, what is the most dangerous pool toy you own? 

Answer: Any inflatable aids that help your child float in the water.

The Good Housekeeping Research Institute (GHRI), the foremost consumer product-evaluation laboratory in the USA, found enclosed, inflatable pool toys to be especially dangerous. The toys were found to flip easily, putting children at risk for injury (from striking the sides of the pool) or drowning (especially if the children were ejected into deep water).

Some of the toys were so slippery, children fell into the water while attempting to climb them during testing. Testers also noted that some enclosures had “blind spots” that prevented parents and other supervisors from safely monitoring children inside. Other toys were so flimsy as to easily collapse under the weight of one child. The GHRI advised parents to avoid the use of inflatable toys altogether.

Also, it’s possible for the float to puncture or deflate, which needless to say is a scary thought for any parent while their child is in the float. GHRI advises parents to explore air-free float alternatives that do not require inflation and hence are not at the risk of puncturing or deflation. 


Two of the UK’s major bodies involved in infant swimming teaching, Swimming Teachers' Association (STA) and Birthlight, are also urging parents to seriously think about the potential dangers of using inflatable swimming aids and floating neck rings on babies. 

Co-author of the report, Shawn Tomlinson of Birthlight and a STA baby swimming tutor, says further: A neck ring creates a vacuum where the baby is incapacitated and cannot connect with anyone or anything. There are no safe boundaries to touch or feel. Self-expression through body language, which the water ideally facilitates, is lost because movements are restricted.

The STA put out a warning against the “routine use” of floating neck rings, questioning the effects that the device could have on the development of babies’ spines, and therefore their nervous systems and brain:

When babies hang vertically in water with their heads supported by a semi-rigid foam structure—particularly those under 5 months—concern arises about compression of the soft and subtle vertebrae in their necks, and strain in ligaments and muscles. Infant development is cephalo-caudal (proceeding from the head down), and head control is the first huge task babies master in their early months, followed by rolling. The main body movements that help babies to achieve these first milestones are restricted by neck rings. Even allowing for buoyancy, active kicking, (first involuntary and later voluntary), may put undue pressure on the neck because the neck ring makes the integration of upper and lower body movements difficult, if not impossible.

Furthermore, this has an impact on the optimal development of the spinal curves. By maintaining a locked position of the upper back and pectoral muscles involved in early head movements, neck rings artificially create a spinal extension that may weaken rather than strengthen babies’ lower backs in the medium to long term.