The “floating neck collar”– Your baby can swim!
© 2013 Roy Benaroch, MD
Continuing what one commenter described as my “personal vendetta” against unsafe baby products, I’ve found something even worse. You might think kooky Dr. Roy is just making this up, but it’s for sale at Amazon: a floating inflatable neck collar thing to keep Junior’s head, and only his head, above the water! Only $6.07!
The full name, from Amazon’s listing, is “YOUR BABY CAN SWIM! Inflatable Learner Swim Float/Swimming Float Neck Collar – Offers best protection for your Child/Baby while they REALLY learn to swim! Color & Design May Vary.” [sic, their caps, I lack their knack for product naming.] It’s yellow or pink, and it seems to fit tightly around a baby’s neck. Because tight plastic rings around baby’s neck are what safety is all about.
Among the product features and claims (I’ll leave out the [sic]. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel here. Fish with little inflatable collars around their little fish necks.):
“lexibility of use at home in our Baby pool, in the bathtub, the water level should always be high enough so your baby’s feet can only touch the bottom of a pool/bathtub”
“Suitable for babies 3-18 months old.”
“Your baby will learn to swim in no time.”
“Provides a sense of security and comfort for you baby in the water.”
OK, just for the record, do NOT fill up a bathtub for a 3 month old baby all the way up so his feet just touch the bottom. Do not trust this thing to keep his head above the water. Don’t trust anything to keep a baby’s head above the water other than you, sitting there and helping and playing during bathtime.
And: your baby won’t learn to swim with an inflated collar holding his head up. He will learn to dangle in the water like seaweed under a buoy.
And: for those of you with toddlers, can you imagine even trying to put this on your 18 month old? Here, Junior, let me put this inflated ring around your neck so you can float around the pool like a ducky chlorine dispenser.
There are currently 50 comments on this thing, including several from people complaining that they sent it in pink instead of a “boy color.” Other people pointed out that it’s fun and cute. A few reviewers said that their baby drowned in it, or that they knew a baby who died in it, which may be an unacceptable trade-off– especially if it comes in the wrong color.
Seriously, folks, this thing is a death-trap. Sure, go swim with your baby—and use those things called your arms, and common sense, to keep your child upright and safe and happy in the pool. You cannot depend on a $6.07 inflatable ring to keep your baby alive.