Babies Safety Outdoor Safety The Best Baby Pool Floats for Safe Splashing in the Sun It’s time for baby’s first frolic in the water By Maya Polton Updated on May 31, 2023 Medically reviewed by Lyndsey Garbi, MD Fact checked by Rich Scherr Share Tweet Pin Email We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more. Photo: Parents / Jaclyn Mastropasqua As any parent knows, toting a baby to a new place or entering a new season likely requires a new piece of gear. So when you’re planning a vacation or the weather heats up, it’s time to look up the best baby pool floats—a helpful, safe way to introduce your baby to the joys of swimming. “Pool floats are worth their weight in gold for that one summer when babies can't yet walk confidently and your back is so sore from carrying them around,” Jamie Truman, a New Jersey-based mom of three shares. “The baby can sit in the float, happy as a clam, and you can be somewhat hands- (or more accurately, hip-) free for some precious minutes.” No matter what type of pool float you choose, there are general swimming safety guidelines that parents should always follow and be mindful of for themselves, their baby, and any other children. “Caregivers must always stay arm’s distance from any child in a float, and remain attentive to the well-being of the child. Never leave a child alone in a float. Never leave a float, or any toys in the pool which can act as a lure for a child to enter a pool unsupervised,” shares Jennifer May, certified lifeguard and member of the United States Swim School Association, one of the experts who helped us choose baby pool floats for this list. Baby pool floats range in cost from under $15 to nearly $100, and many include canopies, which are so useful for sun protection but be sure the canopy never blocks your view of your baby. As you shop, factor in the safety features, ease of use, and sun protection that each float provides. These were the criteria we used to bring you this list of our favorites. Our Favorite Baby Pool Floats Best Overall: Swimway Baby Spring Float Best Non-Inflatable: Mambobaby Non-Inflatable Swim Float Best Budget: Intex Baby Pool Float Best for Toddlers: Fun Boy Pink Convertible Float Best Canopy: Swimways Sun Canopy Spring Float Best for Learning to Swim: Swim School Progressive Training Cruiser Best Inflatable: Intex Kiddie Float Best Portable: Swimway Baby Spring Activity Center Best With Parent: Poolmaster Mommy and Me Pool Float Best Overall: Swimway Baby Spring Float Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Buy on Target Why We Like It: Built-in handles provide parents or caregivers with an easy way to hold on at all times. But Take Note: This float is recommended only for babies 3 to 9 months old, so they’ll need a different one soon. A great first step in introducing your baby to pool life and floating in the water, this baby pool float is made especially for babies ages 3 to 9 months old, and it’s got several important safety features to land it at the top of our list. Instead of having holes for a baby’s legs to rest in, this pool float is more like a lounge chair, with a soft seat for the baby to lie back in while remaining clipped in with a three-point harness. The wide base of the float has two inflatable air chambers and child safety valves to keep your baby upright. We especially like the built-in handles on both sides of the float that provide an intuitive place to grab, so caregivers can securely hold the float at all times. Because sun protection is another must, there’s an adjustable (and removable) sun canopy with UPF 50+ fabric. We appreciate see-thru mesh on the canopy’s sides, so you can always keep your eye on the baby at every angle. When it’s time to pack up, this float deflates and folds by looping into three compact circles that’ll fit right into the included storage bag. The only drawback of this float is it’s only appropriate for younger babies. There is no weight limit listed on the float and only a recommended age range, but you’ll likely be able to tell when they’re ready to kick under water instead of floating on top of it. Price at time of publication: $42 The Details: Recommended age: 3 to 9 monthsWeight limit: Not listed Best Non-Inflatable: Mambobaby Non-Inflatable Swim Float Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Why We Like It: Made of sealed pearl foam, it’s not going to deflate. But Take Note: This float is more expensive and harder to store than others on the list. Some parents might like the reliability of a non-inflatable baby pool float. While this option does cost more and take up more space than other baby pool floats on our list, there’s no risk of the float deflating while the baby is in the pool—or of finding a hole in it right before your pool fun begins. Made of sealed pearl foam, the float is available in three colorways. No matter the color, they all come with a three-point harness strap, a removable sun canopy, and a removable footrest. When using this pool float, your baby can be positioned in two ways. The brand refers to the directions as “breaststroke,” which is a forward-facing position with legs in the water, and the “backstroke” position, which is more of a lounging position with legs out of the water. In either position, it’s a cinch to adjust the UPF 50+ sun canopy to cover your baby’s delicate skin. When not in use, the canopy will fold flat, but the pool float doesn’t pack into a storage bag, so be prepared to tote it, along with any other pool essentials you’ll need for your baby. Price at time of publication: $94 The Details: Recommended age: 3 to 24 months old Weight limit: 13 to 40 pounds Best Budget: Intex Baby Pool Float Walmart Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Buy on Ace Hardware Why We Like It: Inexpensive and inflatable, this is a helpful float to pack for vacation. But Take Note: There is no sun protection, and it’s not recommended for babies under 1 year old. For a wallet-friendly pool float, this inexpensive pick is a no-frills option that may be just what you need. The bright yellow float is fully inflatable and, of course, deflatable to a small size that’s perfect for packing in a suitcase for vacation or a day trip to the pool. When inflated, the float features an inner and outer ring, measuring 26.5 inches in diameter. The two rings help keep the pool float stable. The diaper-style seat means your kiddo is positioned in the middle of the float with their legs submerged in the pool water. Recommended for kids from ages 1 to 2 years old, there’s a weight maximum of 33 pounds for this float. Do note, there is no sun protection or canopy with this pick, so sunscreen, rash guards, and a sun hat are a must if you choose this float. Price at time of publication: $11 The Details: Recommended age: 1 to 2 years oldWeight limit: 33-pound maximum The Best Baby Walker Alternatives for Tots on the Move Best for Toddlers: Fun Boy Pink Convertible Float Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Dillards.com Buy on Revolve Why We Like It: This adorable float has a moveable steering wheel and detachable pink sunshade. But Take Note: The car is available in pink only, so you’ll have to pick a different design if that’s not your color. Stand out in style with this splurge-worthy pink convertible car-shaped pool float! Sure to be noticed, the float measures 42 inches long, so make sure you’ve not only got room in the pool for this one but enough air in your lungs to blow it up. It will take some time (or help from an electric air pump) to get this car ready for the pool. Safe for kids from ages 1 to 2 years old, this car has a 33-pound weight limit. Once inflated, the car goes in the pool and your kiddo’s legs go through the leg holes into the water. There’s a backrest for some additional support and an integrated steering wheel to add to the fun and enjoy some sensory play, while a removable sunshade provides sun protection. The sunshade is also inflatable and made of plastic, so it’s a bit more cumbersome to deal with than some of the fabric shades on other pool floats. Unfortunately, this convertible pool float is only available in pink, so if you’re looking for another color, you’ll have to opt for one of the other Funboy designs. Price at time of publication: $49 The Details: Recommended age: 1 to 2 years old Weight limit: 33-pound maximum The 10 Swim Diapers That Parents on Amazon Trust Most for the Beach and Pool Best Canopy: Swimways Sun Canopy Spring Float Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Buy on Target Why We Like It: This pool float is affordable, folds flat, and can be used by a wide age range. But Take Note: The wide mesh ring makes it a bit tricky for some babies to reach and splash directly in the pool. Affordable, safe, secure, and well-reviewed, this baby pool float is suitable for babies from 9 to 24 months old, one of the widest age ranges on this list. To use this device, an adult must inflate the inner and outer rings, which are connected via a mesh liner. The popular float has been updated with a special valve that will inflate up to three times faster than previous iterations of the same product. You’ll be in the water soon and save your breath! The stand-out shade-providing canopy on this float pivots up to 60 degrees, blocking the sun at various angles. The sides of the canopy are see-through mesh, so your baby is never out of sight. If you don’t want the canopy, it’s easy to remove (and put back on when you change your mind). The entire float is made of comfortable fabric, which means it’s not rigid when you put the baby's legs through the holes and into the pool. One drawback some users find is that the rings keeping babies safe are too big for them to reach past and splash directly in the water. When pool time is over, the entire float folds into three rings and packs into the included travel bag, making it a portable addition to all your pool gear. Price at time of publication: $28 The Details: Recommended age: 9 to 24 months Weight limit: None listed Best for Learning to Swim: Swim School Progressive Training Cruiser Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Why We Like It: It’s four floats for the price of one. But Take Note: The Velcro kickboard connection can be scratchy when exposed. An amazing four-in-one pool float, this transforms and can be used in four different ways, helping your child progress their swimming skills. This float measures 27 by 24 inches when inflated and consists of two parts, the main base and the removable kickboard. They both inflate pretty quickly, but due to their size, you may want the help of an electric pump. The float can move through four phases of swim development: a baby boat with legs through the holes and back support, a kid cruiser with less back support, a baby boat to lay on and kick through the water, and a kickboard for swimming off of the float. Each is useful in its way and can likely be useful for a whole summer season and beyond. One thing to note: The kickboard is attached to the base via Velcro, so when it’s out of position and the exposed Velcro rubs against the skin, it can be a bit scratchy. Price at time of publication: $19 The Details: Recommended age: 18 months and upWeight limit: Not listed Best Inflatable: Intex Kiddie Float Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Buy on Target Why We Like It: For added fun, there’s a built-in rattle with enclosed balls. But Take Note: The canopy can’t be moved or removed, so squirmy babies may be tricky to take in and out. Blow up this two-chambered baby pool float and you’ve got everything your kiddo needs for fun in the sun. Not only will your kiddo love floating and splashing in the pool, but this baby pool float features an interactive (inflatable) handlebar that houses three balls that move through the clear bar as your kiddo moves in the float. The seat has two smooth leg holes, so when you put your child in, their legs will be immersed in the pool water. The canopy inflates just like the rest of the float, and it’s always in place. Note that the fact that it’s not retractable may make it a bit tricky to get kids into the float, and depending on the angle of the sun, it won’t always provide full shade. Price at time of publication: $18 The Details: Recommended age: 1 to 2 years oldWeight limit: 33 pounds Best Portable: Swimway Baby Spring Activity Center Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Buy on Target Why We Like It: The float, canopy, and octopus activity center all fold flat and fit in the small carry bag. But Take Note: The inflation valves are a bit tricky to figure out. Heading to the pool, or truly anywhere, with young kids always requires lots of extra stuff. You’ll love that this super-portable pool float folds flat and fits into the included carry bag. The bag has a long shoulder strap, so it’s easy to tote this lightweight float to and from the pool. We love that this float has both inner and outer rings that get inflated, plus there’s a spring inside to keep it all steady. The fully adjustable baby float comes with a removable sun canopy that’s made of UPF 50+, and the sides are made of see-thru mesh, so you can always keep an eye on your baby. If the pool isn’t fun enough, this “activity center” float has an attached rotating octopus. Each tentacle of the octopus is holding a toy to engage your kiddo—a squeaky fish, stacking rings, a fish-shaped teether, and a soft starfish. Price at time of publication: $32 The Details: Recommended age: 9 to 24 monthsWeight limit: Not listed Best With Parent: Poolmaster Mommy and Me Pool Float Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Buy on Home Depot Why We Like It: The special cut-out spot for a parent helps keep your baby close. But Take Note: The canopy moves, but it doesn’t always stay in place. All experts recommend always being within arm’s reach of your baby when using a pool float, and this pick makes sure you’ll stay that way. In addition to the drop-seat baby float ring, this choice has an attached split ring opening for an adult to swim with the baby. Thanks to the split ring design, the parent section is inclusive of most body shapes. The fully inflatable design also has a detachable and retractable sun canopy for helpful sun protection. The canopy is inflatable too, so it’s a bit more cumbersome to move, and we hear it doesn’t always stay upright when you want it to. For added fun, this float has two attached water toys to entertain babies just a little more. If you’ve got twins, there’s even a version of this baby pool float with two seats for babies and one spot for an adult, though that version doesn’t have a sun canopy. Price at time of publication: $29 The Details: Recommended age: 8 to 24 months Weight limit: Not Listed How We Selected the Best Baby Pool Floats We aimed to pick out the baby pool floats that are safe, affordable, comfortable, and work for different age needs. Other factors included user reviews, shipping and return policies, and availability. We looked for baby pool floats that live up to their promises of quality, safety, and durability. We also interviewed pediatricians Jordan Watson, M.D., FAAP, of Nemours Children’s Hospital in Delaware and Sarah A. Denny, M.D., FAAP, of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio, as well as Jennifer May, a certified lifeguard and founder of LifeCycle Swim School in New Jersey. Factors to Consider Type of Float There are many types of pool floats on the market, but the first thing you should know is that there’s a difference between a recreational pool device and a personal flotation device. “A recreational pool device includes different pool floats that are usually inflatable and designed for recreation and not specifically to prevent drowning,” Dr. Watson warns. Do not rely on a baby pool float to serve as a personal floatation device. With that in mind, it’s up to you to choose between fully inflatable floats and those made with other floating materials such as foam. Some baby floats come with harnesses, while others just have holes into which you slip the baby’s legs to keep them upright. You can also choose all sorts of fun shapes, including flamingos, cars, spaceships, and even sharks. One kind of float you should never, ever purchase, according to the FDA, is a neck float, as they can lead to death or serious injury. Sun Protection It’s very convenient if your baby’s float comes with a built-in, adjustable canopy to shield their skin and eyes from the sun. But not all floats come with that option, and some canopies only work when the sun is at specific heights in the sky. That’s OK, though, according to May. “If the baby float doesn’t have a canopy, then using hats, rash guards and/or sunblock are necessary–even on cloudy days,” May says, adding, “If the baby float has a canopy, position yourself so that the canopy doesn’t block your view of the child.” Ease of Use If you choose an inflatable float, think about how difficult it will be to blow up, and whether you need a pump to help you out. Once it’s ready for the pool, you’ll also want to be sure it’s easy to get your baby in and out of the float without a lot of fussing. How to Use Baby Floats Safely “Baby floats are not water safety equipment and should only be used with constant, capable adult supervision, within arm's reach of the child,” says Dr. Denny, who is the lead author of the AAP Policy Statement and Technical Report on Prevention of Drowning. Dr. Watson also suggests only using a baby pool float in the shallow end of the pool, which makes it easier to get a child in and out of the pool quickly. Since your baby will always be in the pool with a caregiver, you should also take breaks from the float. “Limit time in the float, and give equal time out of the float promoting self-rescue positions and skills,” May suggests. You can even enroll your baby in a swim class early on, so they can learn to roll over onto their back to float, reach for the wall, and even climb out of the pool on their own. Your Questions, Answered At what age can babies use floats? Instead of age, think about your baby’s developmental stage when deciding if they can use a pool float, and always speak with your doctor if you have any questions. “A baby should have good control of their head and trunk before using a baby float,” advises Dr. Denny. Should babies use swim vests or water wings? Babies are too young to use most swim vests or water wings safely. And even toddlers shouldn’t rely on them regularly, according to the experts. “These devices promote a vertical position in the water, which is the drowning position,” May tells us. “Regular use creates muscle memory towards this dangerous position. Children who regularly wear these devices can also develop a false sense of security and confidence in the water.” Who We Are Maya Polton is a former marketing manager and current freelance writer who covers food, home, and parenting. She’s also the mom of a 13-year-old son, a 9-year-old son, and a 5-year-old daughter. Maya’s kids are all very strong swimmers, thanks to a summer full of pool time and frequent swim lessons. Once summer rolls around, her whole family can often be found at their local pool. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources Parents uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Do not use baby neck floats due to the risk of death or injury: FDA safety communication.