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Your complete Guide to Floatsuits for Toddlers and Kids

The huge variety of flotation aids now available for children means you’re no longer limited to putting armbands on your child before they go into the pool.

One of the most popular swimming aids on the market, floatsuits are ideal for helping little ones gain confidence in water while being supported by the suits’ integrated floats.

In this guide:

  • What are floatsuits?
  • Comparing floatsuits, float jackets and Fings™
  • Best floatsuits
  • How to care for floatsuits
  • Floatsuits vs armbands
  • Floatsuit FAQs

What are floatsuits?
Floatsuits are swimming costumes with integrated floats to help children stay buoyant in water and position them correctly when they are learning to swim.

The suits feature foam floats that are inserted into pockets around the tummy and back. You can remove these individual floats in pairs, gradually as your child becomes more confident in the water.

Floatsuits are available as a classic swimming costume style Floatsuit, or in designs with fabric to protect arms and legs from the sun, like our UV Floatsuit.

At what age can children wear floatsuits?
Children can wear flotation suits from one year old, right up to the age of six. Younger babies may not be able to balance themselves or have the strength to keep their body above water, meaning they may tip forwards or backwards when wearing a floatsuit. You should always ensure that you hold baby’s hands until they find their balance and remove floats one at a time until they are held stable under the water with just the tops of their shoulders out of the water

When choosing the right size of suit for your child, don’t go by their age. Instead, measure their chest circumference, body length and weight, to ensure the best fit possible.

If you’re looking for a buoyancy aid for your child, you can purchase a Kickboard floatation device or see our section on babies and floatsuit alternatives.

Benefits of floatsuits
Floatsuits are essentially a swimsuit and swimming aid in one. Using them means you don’t need to worry about getting your child to wear armbands or rely on them to hold on to floats when they are in the water.

Foam floats are integrated into the swimming costume, so you can adjust the buoyancy as your child becomes more confident in the water and as their swimming abilities improve. It also means your child can’t easily remove the floats, which is a potential hazard with armbands.

The floats go around the child’s torso, leaving their arms unrestricted. This helps them develop a more natural swimming position in the pool, rather than lifting them upright out of the water, which is what armbands do.

A further bonus is that some suits feature UPF 50+ fabric that covers arms and legs, making them ideal for swimming outdoors in warmer weather.

 

Comparing Floatsuits, Float Jackets and Swim Vests

 
  Floatsuit Go Splash Float Jacket Go Splash Swim Vest
Descripton
  • Helps teach children to swim
  • Detailed instructions included
  • Made from chlorine-resistant fabrics
  • UV versions available (see below)
  • Made with soft neoprene for a "no rub" swim
  • Provides warmth to chest area
  • 8-piece Adjustable buoyancy 
  • Chunky zips available for added security
  • Ideal for holidays with a flat pack design
  • Non-removable floats ideal starter swim vest
  • Best travel float vest
  • Super soft binding to prevent chaffing
Sizes Available  1-6 Years  1-6 Years  1-6 Years
Colours Range of designs Range of designs Range of designs
Gender

Floatsuit Original - Girls
Short John Floatsuits - Boys
UV Floatsuit - Unisex

Unisex Unisex
UPF 50+ Sun Protection Yes Yes Yes
16 Adjustable Floats System? Yes 8-piece adjustable float system Floats are non-removable
Price From £25.00 From £23.00 From £20.00

 

Best Floatsuits for:

Everyone - Floatsuit (Original)

  • Designed to help you teach your kids to swim
  • The unique Splash About 16-piece adjustable system
  • Helps children maintain the correct swimming position
  • High-quality, chlorine-resistant fabrics
  • Available for 1–6 years old (see below)

 

From £25.00

Review: 

“This is such a great idea, my daughter had so much confidence when wearing it. We could enjoy some play time as a family in the pool without any fears and it's really helped my daughter learn to swim, with removable inserts you can balance it perfectly and reduce them as they become more confident. Eventually no floats required and she's confidently swimming at the age of 5. Everyone's happy!” – C. Limb (Amazon review)

Boys - Short John Floatsuit

  • An adjustable buoyancy floatsuit for boys
  • The unique Splash About 16-piece adjustable system helps the child maintain the correct swimming position
  • Knee length design with a full zip at the back—easier to get on or off
  • High-quality, durable, chlorine-resistant fabrics

 

From £25.00

Review:

Swimming teacher recommends highly! Fantastic item!

“I absolutely love this. I am a swimming teacher and cannot recommend these enough. I have just bought this for personal use for my 26 month old boy—until then I had taken him in the pool without any floatation aids.” – Debbie Harwood (Amazon review)

UV Protection - UV Floatsuit

  • Provides extra coverage over legs, shoulders, neck and arms
  • Perfect for outdoor pools and beaches
  • UPF 50+ and full sun protection
  • Nylon Lycra fabric for protection against wind and sand
  • Range of designs for boys and girls

 

From £27.00

Review:

And this one is by miles the best.

“Indispensable on holiday with our 3 year old. Gives her confidence in the water, as well as complete peace of mind for her parents! Tried many variations on this theme over the years for our now elder children, and this one is by miles the best.” – Mr. MacPhisto (Amazon review)

Floatsuits vs armbands
For decades, armbands have been parents’ go-to buoyancy aid when taking their children swimming. However, floatsuits have many more advantages over these traditional swimming aids. 

 
  Floatsuit Armbands

Descripton

Keeps child buoyant and helps them achieve a more natural swimming position

Raise arms out of the water, making it difficult to achieve a natural swimming position

Sizes Available

 1-6 Years

 1-12 Years

Colours

Varied, colourful and fun designs available

Usually orange or yellow—some different colours and patterns available

Gender

Unisex

Unisex

UPF 50+ Sun Protection

UPF protection can be integrated into the suit

Do not provide sun protection

Adjustable Floats System?

Yes. Integrated foam floats can be gradually removed as child’s confidence increases

Inflatability isn’t adjustable, although there are float disc armband systems available where float discs can be gradually removed

Safety

  • Integrated floats are difficult for children to remove

  • Durable

  • Easy for children to remove

  • Susceptible to punctures and air leaks

Comfort

  • Arms free to move naturally in the water

  • Easy-change zip and soft fabric

  • Restrict arm movement

  • Awkward to get on and off and plastic can chafe

Price

More expensive than armbands—cost around £20–£30

Very affordable—cost as little as a few pounds

 

Babies and flotation suits
Unfortunately, floatsuits aren’t suitable for babies under one year old. At this age, babies tend not to have the balance and strength they need to support themselves in the water when wearing a floatsuit.

How to care for floatsuits
Although Splash About’s floatsuits are made from chlorine-resistant fabric, you still need to care for them as you would any regular swimwear.

  • Rinse the floatsuit thoroughly in cool water after use and leave to dry naturally, out of direct sunlight.
  • Regularly check the zips for sand—this could cause the zip to deteriorate over time.
    Clean soiled suits in a washing machine on a warm wash with a gentle detergent. Don’t use fabric conditioner as this can damage the material’s UPF coating. Remember to remove all the floats first

Floatsuit FAQs

Are floatsuits safe?
Floatsuits work with your child’s natural buoyancy, preventing them from sinking while enabling them to put their head underwater if they want to. Although they help keep the child safe in the water, they are swimming aids and aren’t intended as a safety device.

A floatsuit won’t turn a child the right way up if they are struggling in the water, or keep their head above water in the same way a lifejacket would. As such, they aren’t a substitute for adult supervision.

Safety tips for floatsuits

  • Babies should have the strength and balance to sit up confidently before they are able to use a floatsuit. Splash About floatsuits are suitable for babies aged one year and above, but older babies and even toddlers may find it difficult to stay upright. If you find your child is struggling in this way (for example, if they are tipping forwards or backwards), start with the minimum number of floats and gradually introduce them two at a time until your child is positioned so just their head and shoulders are above the water. Then hold both their hands in front of them and gently steady your child until they find their balance. This may take a few attempts.
  • Don’t use floatsuits as a substitute for a lifejacket on boats or during watersports.
  • Wearing the correct size of floatsuit will help keep your child as safe as possible. So choose a suit based on their weight, chest circumference and height, rather than just their age.
  • Supervise children closely—preferably one-to-one—when they are in or near water.
  • Check that the suit you choose has a British Standard safety mark. This means the suits have been tested to a rigorous safety standard to ensure they perform as the labelling states.

Can my child wear a floatsuit with armbands?
No. Wearing a floatsuit with armbands will provide too much buoyancy, which could be dangerous.

Can my child wear a floatsuit with swim nappies?
Yes. If your child isn’t potty trained, they will need to wear a swim nappy under their floatsuit. Splash About’s reusable Happy Nappy range can be worn under a floatsuit for a confident, leak-free swim.

What flotation suits are available for children over six?
Float jackets are suitable for children aged six to 10 and are ideal for providing support when learning to swim. They are worn over a swimming costume and, like floatsuits, have adjustable floats you can remove as your child’s grows more confident in the water.

What alternatives are there to swimsuits with integrated floats?
Float jackets are a superb alternative to floatsuits and are suitable for older children and even adults. They feature adjustable floats that are integrated into the vest and can be removed gradually as the swimmer’s confidence grows.

What if my child won’t wear a floatsuit?
If your child isn’t keen on wearing a floatsuit, these tips should help them feel more comfortable:

  • Let them choose the style they prefer—there are plenty of options available, including bright patterns and colours to suit every child’s taste. Many of Splash About’s designs come in classic or long-sleeve designs—for example, our navy with white strip design is available as a sun protection floatsuit and in a classic swimsuit design.
  • Let your child see how a floatsuit feels once they are wearing it—they tend to be much more comfortable and less restrictive than armbands.
  • As the floats are integrated into the swimming costume, your child needs only to put on one garment to have everything they need, rather than having to negotiate a swimming costume and a flotation device.

You can view Splash About’s full range of Floatsuits here.

Related content

See our essential guide to baby swimwear to go back to the basics.
View our style guides for girls and boys.