Parents urged to rethink use of baby neck floats

10 August 2017

The Royal Life Saving Society WA is warning parents of the dangers of baby neck floats, after an investigation by Fair Trading Queensland found that some available products don’t meet mandatory standards for swimming and floatation devices.

The neck floats - an inflatable plastic ring that is placed around the child’s neck to support their head above water - were originally designed as medical aids for children with a disability, but have recently become more popular as a recreational item.

Royal Life Saving Society WA’s Senior Manager Health Promotion and Research Lauren Nimmo says there are several concerns with these floats. “They can pose a drowning risk to children if the device deflates or topples over, or the child slips through. If a baby is in the water a parent should be in the water with them and within arm’s reach at all times. Unfortunately we know that using any type of floatation device can give parents a false sense of security and lead to lapses in supervision.”

The floats can also pose a problem for children’s development, by unnaturally restricting their movement and placing them in a less than ideal position. Ms Nimmo says this can have a detrimental impact longer term. “The way the float suspends the child doesn’t give them the opportunity to develop correct positioning in the water, which may disadvantage them as they prepare for the transition to learning to swim.”

Royal Life Saving Society WA encourages all parents choosing floatation devices for their children to ensure they only purchase products that comply with the mandatory Australian standards, follow all safety instructions for use, and never leave their children unsupervised in any kind of floatation device.

Consumer Protection is urging parents who’ve purchased devices that are not compliant with standards to return them to the point of purchase for a refund. Information on the products that have been recalled can be found on the Product Safety Australia website.