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?

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 gradually as your child becomes more confident in the water.

Floatsuits are available as a classic swimming costume, or in designs with fabric to protect arms and legs from the sun, like our Set Sail 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 Fings™ 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 Fings™

Product

Floatsuit

Float Jacket

Fings™

Description
  • Helps teach children to swim
  • Detailed instructions included
  • Made from chlorine-resistant fabrics
  • UV versions available (see below)
  • 3mm thick neoprene
  • Provides warmth to chest area
  • Adjustable buoyancy
  • Starter versions available (with 8 floats)
  • Chunky zips available for added security
  • Learning aids for babies and children
  • Correctly positions child in the water
  • Fits around child’s chest and under arms
  • Practical, affordable and robust
  • Professionfals consider them one of the best ways to learn to swim with buoyancy
Sizes/age

1–6 years

1–6 years

3 months–6 years

Colours

Range of designs

Range of designs

Yellow

Gender

Girls and boys

Girls and boys

Girls and boys

UPF 50+ sun protection

X

16 adjustable floats included

X

Price

From £17.49

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From £17.99

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£15.99

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Product Floatsuit
Description
  • Helps teach children to swim
  • Detailed instructions included
  • Made from chlorine-resistant fabrics
  • UV versions available (see below)
Sizes/age

1–6 years

Colours

Range of designs

Gender

Girls and boys

UPF 50+ sun protection

16 adjustable floats included

Price

From £17.49

Click here to view

Product

Float Jacket

Description
  • 3mm thick neoprene
  • Provides warmth to chest area
  • Adjustable buoyancy
  • Starter versions available (with 8 floats)
  • Chunky zips available for added security
Sizes/age

1–6 years

Colours

Range of designs

Gender

Girls and boys

UPF 50+ sun protection

16 adjustable floats included

Price

From £17.99

Click here to view

Product

Fings™

Description
  • Learning aids for babies and children
  • Correctly positions child in the water
  • Fits around child’s chest and under arms
  • Practical, affordable and robust
  • Professionals consider them one of the best ways to learn to swim with buoyancy
Sizes/age

3 months–6 years

Colours

Yellow

Gender

Girls and boys

UPF 50+ sun protection

X

16 adjustable floats included

X

Price

£15.99

Click here to view

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
  • Detailed instructions included
  • High-quality, chlorine-resistant fabrics
  • Available for 1–6 years old (see below)
  • Available for girls and boys

Price: £24.99

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Review

This is such a great idea, my daughter had so much confidence…

“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)

Sizes

 

ChestLengthWeight

1–2 years (small)

42–52cm

40cm

11–15kg

2–4 years (medium)

44–54cm

41cm

15–22kg

4–6 years (large)

46–56cm

43cm

22–30kg

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

Price: £18.74

Click here to view

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)

Sizes

 

ChestLengthWeight

1–2 years (small)

42–52cm

40cm

11–15kg

2–4 years (medium)

44–54cm

41cm

15–22kg

4–6 years (large)

46–56cm

43cm

22–30kg

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

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)

Sizes

 

ChestLengthWeight

1–2 years (small)

42–52cm

40cm

11–15kg

2–4 years (medium)

44–54cm

41cm

15–22kg

4–6 years (large)

46–56cm

43cm

22–30kg

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.

 

Floatsuits

Armbands

Description

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/age

1–6 years

1 – 3 (adult versions available)

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

No sun protection

Adjustable floats?

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.

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