Recommended Swim Equipment for Beginning Swimmers

Walking into a ‘Swim Equipment’ aisle at a store can be like walking into Babies R Us during your first pregnancy! Overwhelming! Floaties, inflatable tubes, swimsuits stuffed with floating material, life-jackets with neck rests and without, bubble float belts with one, two, or three bubbles, etc. Not to mention all the swimming toys!

PFDs {Personal Flotation Devices} are very important for pre and beginner swimmers, but which ones are best? How do you know what float your child needs and at what age? How do I properly use this equipment? Are you hindering them from learning to swim if you use PFDs? 

If you have any of these questions, this post is for you, and your child! We want to first and foremost protect your child and reassure you, that you are best preparing your young children to be safe in the water! 

Disclosure: We are not being sponsored by of the companies below. These recommendations are based on our own opinions and experiences in teaching swimming lessons and working with children. 

Infants & Babies

Swim Ways Baby Float: Swim Ways has created an awesome product for babies! These floats fold up flat, easy to transport, easy to quickly inflate, include an optional awning covering for your baby, and have an inflatable ring for babies of all ages to rest their head or chin on as they chill in the water! As a parent, I feel this product provides one of the best ways to begin swimming with your infant in a way that helps baby and parent to both feel relaxed and comfortable. It also helps your young baby to begin feeling comfortable in the water without a tight grasp around your neck!

Swim Shirts/Rash Guards: Swim Shirts are also known as Rash Guards, and have a year round purpose.  In the winter in indoor pools they can help to keep your child warm, in outdoors in the summer they help to protect against the sun.  Babies should not wear sunscreen before 6 months of age, so a swim shirt offers great protection for your little one’s sensitive skin!

Solar Sheet  (Solumbra)- We received a solar sheet (scarf) for a baby shower gift when I was pregnant with our first child. This has been one of our most-used, most-practical, gifts! They are perfect for babies in the HOT summer sun! Solar Sheets are light weight, include SPF 100+ in the material (perfect for babies under 6 months who cannot yet wear sunscreen, can be used as a summer blanket, and fit great as a cover for a carseat or stroller! They are a 34″ square and come in several different colors.

Solar Sheet (scarf)– (Click Here to Visit the Sun Precautions Website!)

Toddlers-Young Children

Puddle Jumpers: You may have seen these in stores this summer season or at your local pool. As a mom and a swim teacher, these are one of my ALL-TIME FAVORITE NEW Swim Product! I have been emailing several companies trying to get these for giveaways because I want you all to have one! They are perfectly designed for your little beginning swimmers!  The puddle jumper is made from foam – you don’t have to inflate them and they are easy to put on.  The belt fastens in the back without any flotation on the child’s back; this prevents them from ending up face down in the water! They also combine the idea of a flotation belt and floaties all in one; keeping your child’s chest and arms out of the water. Two other benefits are that they help position your child in a ‘swimming position’ and making it easier for your child to use their arms correctly to swim; not doggie paddle. The lack of flotation on the back strap allows you to use them to ease your child into comfortably floating and or swimming on their back. The recommended weight is 30-50lbs.

The Cheerios and Lattes family has been using these all summer long. Big Brother is closer to 40 lbs allowing him to instantly feel comfortable in his Puddle Jumper. Little Brother was too light, however with lots of practice and allowing him to slowly get used to his Puddle Jumper, he now loves it and will float all around the pool on his back! WE LOVE PUDDLE JUMPERS! :)

Please remember, as we mentioned before, any ‘good’ thing can become a ‘bad’ thing if used improperly or too often. DO NOT allow your child to rely on their PFDs; have them practice both with and without their PFDs! 

Water Wings/Floaties: Chrissy (the series co-author) recommends these for older children who are learning to swim. With water wings you have the option of going cloth or plastic. The cloth water wings tend to be a little more durable and leak air less than the plastic ones. For children under 50 lbs, get a Puddle Jumper! :)

 GogglesIt is important that your child becomes comfortable with having water in their face and or eyes, goggles are a great way to ease your child into obtaining that comfort level.  They can help your child to swim underwater or to get his or her head wet.  Speedo googles are great for adults, however child googles need to be fitted specifically for your child’s head.  It is important that you use goggles and not a face/snorkel mask (these don’t promote proper rotary breathing that is used when swimming).  Goggles that are too tight can cause red rings around a child’s eyes that will stay red for hours. It is also recommended, that your child uses their own goggles, while it is not heavily researched children can get pink eye or other infections from sharing goggles.   

Kick BoardA kick board is a great teaching aid! They are great for teaching children proper kicking and arm motions in the water. For safety purposes, it is important that they are used properly! Arms should always be straight with the board out in the front of the child. Although it may be tempting, they are not surf boards and should not be placed under the stomach.  

 Great Toys for Learning to Swim

Sponge Balls: Sponge Balls are great to get wet and squeeze on top of your child’s head getting their face wet.  They are also great to have for children to throw and swim to.  Always leave your Sponge Balls out to dry to prevent bacteria or mildew from growing. 

 Sponge Balls DIY Tutorial– (Click here to learn how to make your own!)

Sinking Toys: It is important for all children to learn to swim underwater.  An important skill for children to learn is, how to swim under water and then return for back for a breath of air.  Sinking toys can encourage children to swim under water and provide entertainment for older children.  Chrissy recommends diving rings because of their easy grasp and the ability for children to collect multiple rings on their arms. 


Nose PlugsWe do not recommend nose plugs unless your child cannot handle water going up their nose.  Only introduce a nose plug if your child refuses to have their face in the water.

Ear PlugsEar plugs are important if your child has a history of ear infections or tubes in their ears.  Ear plugs can be uncomfortable so I recommend  There are also methods out on the web to help with swimmers ear.




  1. Definitely going to get some of those googles. Thanks for sharing at Mom’s Library!

  2. Hi Mackenzie,

    Thanks for all of the sweet advice on sporting equipment for beginners. Being involved in the marketplace I would definitely vouch for most of your information above. It is vital that all beginners learn how to swim properly and also buy protective gear for their eyes (more importantly) so a good pair of Googles will see you through.

    Check out this site for cheap swimming equipment.

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