Would You Use An Otteroo Baby Floatie?
Otteroo is a water floatie that fits around your baby’s neck and is meant to give her free range of motion while familiarizing her with water. By allowing your baby to move and float without restrictions, the designers of Otteroo believe their product will promote muscle strength, coordination, and give your baby confidence through independence.
This product scares the bejesus out of me. At my first glance of the Otteroo in use, I totally bypassed the smiling, happy baby and saw a baby being strangled by plastic and another sad story of unintentional drowning. Did you know the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that children between the ages of one and four are at highest risk of drowning each year? And aren’t we taught not to put plastic around a child’s head?
But I wanted to keep an open mind. After all, this is a product meant for parents and their kids. I’m a parent. Why would someone sell a product that is unsafe for my baby?
Well, nothing is unsafe on its own; it takes someone to use it incorrectly to make it unsafe. The donuts at the grocery store are perfectly safe until I eat six a day and give myself diabetes and clogged arteries. I have to believe Otteroo is safe—until someone who doesn’t know how to use it slips it around their child’s head and puts them in a pool of water.
According to their website, Otteroo is designed to fit babies 8 weeks old as long as they are at least 9 pounds and can be used until they are 35 pounds. Otteroo should be snug, yet comfortable around your baby’s neck while their chin is placed on the chin rest. It is also recommended to try Otteroo in the bathtub before transitioning to the pool. Actually, this floatie is meant to be used in the tub too, but with very specific instructions.
The makers of Otteroo emphasize it is not a swim aid or learning device. Nor is it a lifesaving or personal floatation device. But when I looked at reviewers’ comments on Amazon, I was concerned with the number of people who described their baby as swimming when they are using it.
One reviewer commented that their baby’s head slipped right out of the hole and went under water. The creator of Otteroo replied with this, “We have contacted the customer to understand the circumstances under which this happened and while we are waiting for the unit to get to our facility for further investigation, we would like to note that in the rare cases that the infant's head slips out of the otteroo, we have consistently found that the unit was not properly inflated, hence the structural integrity of the otteroo was compromised.”
And this is why I’m scared to use this product. In most cases, it’s fine. And for some families with children who need aqua therapy, specifically for cerebral palsy, it’s a blessing. Seeing their children move effortlessly in water is a gift and I’m glad a product like Otteroo can make that happen. But for most, myself included, this is just a water toy, one that has great benefits if used correctly, but one that makes me nervous if not.
I still hold my breath when I watch the Otteroos In Action video on their homepage; I get very anxious when I see a baby dangling from his neck while in water—maybe it’s the mom in me. But after several viewings, I eventually saw how happy the baby was to be moving in a way he can’t on land.
The Otteroo and any other floatie should not be used with a false sense of security. Nothing takes the place of swimming lessons, life jackets, and extreme vigilance when you’re with your kids around water, whether it’s in the tub, swimming pool, or puddles.
I have been happy with the Baby Spring Float Sun Canopy. It kept my daughter protected from the sun and allowed her to enjoy the water independently of me holding her. I was holding onto the floatie at all times, but she could splash and kick freely while in an upright position.
Be sure to read the website’s FAQ section before deciding if this product is for you. Would you use an Otteroo baby floatie? Do you already? Let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you.