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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Equipment Reviews - Wingbo and Swim Float

Emma uses a lot of equipment during the day for all different reasons - communication, positioning, transportation, and plain old fun!  This equipment ranges from relatively inexpensive to Oh My Gosh it Costs How Much???!!!!  And it takes up a LOT of space.  

Parents of children with cerebral palsy are often looking for honest opinions of equipment so they can decide if a product might/might not work for their child so I thought I would post our experience with the equipment we have on hand.  Also, we are going to the Abilities Expo later this week making this a good time to take an honest inventory of what we have now and how it is/is not working for us.  If I can find a link to the product mentioned I'll include it as a hyperlink.  I also want to state that I am not a professional and this is only my opinion of how the products work with my daughter so if you are considering purchasing any of these items feel free to check with your therapists to determine if they could be a good fit for your child.

First up is equipment we use that I associate with "summer" types of activities since our weather is getting warmer and we definitely are looking forward to summer here!


  • There are a lot of floats out there to help children keep their neck above the water.  We were lucky that Emma tried out many different ones at our children's hospital aquatic therapy area with her physical therapist before we selected the Danmar head float as the best one for her.  This neck float was about $100 but it will fit Emma for many years so we thought it was a good investment.  She is in the size Medium - this photo was taken in 2010 and she was just barely in the size range for the Medium but her PT tested it out on her and we all agreed the Medium was a good fit (she would outgrow the small size too quickly).  I'm using this older photo because it might give you a better judge on the size.  We typically use this when swimming at in ground pools but as you can see here it also works well in a small backyard pool.  
  • The rainbow strap is adjustable with a snap clip that makes it easy to put around her head even when I don't have help.  The material is very cushiony and I think it is likely pretty comfortable around her neck.  Emma has never complained about it so I think she agrees.
  • Emma has never slipped out of the neck area.  We do stay close to her, though, keeping water safety as our focus when the girls are swimming.  Emma stays nicely above the water and is actually even able to swim on her own a bit with this neck float.
  • For children that arch backwards a lot they also sell a float with a stability bar that will help prevent pushing her head backwards into the water.  This might be something to consider for children that have a strong arch or sudden movements.  
  • We also have a Puddle Jumper float we bought at Target a few months ago.  I have to keep my hands on the strap at all times because Emma's head is a bit "top heavy" in it and if she doesn't keep her head up it will fall in the water.  I think it's handy to have both float options since they allow us to have fun while also working on some strengthening.  We work on Emma's head control while in the Puddle Jumper and work on standard swimming while in the neck float.  

  • We bought this when Emma was a little over a year old and have been using it ever since.  At our previous house we would mount this outside in the swing set or indoors on a chin up bar and had a lot of fun with it!  In our current house we mount it indoors using the Rainy Day Indoor Playground mount  since the doorway is too large for a chin up bar and we don't want to put lots of holes in the ceiling to mount it with standard hardware.  
  • Both Julia and Emma enjoy swinging in the Wingbo, but it is an especially good swing for Emma to work on strengthening her neck muscles.  I often play games with Emma in this swing like asking her to give me a High 5 each time she comes near me or passing photos back and forth with her or having her tap a ball out of my hand as she swings towards me.  
  • The height of this swing can be adjusted so that she can swing freely in the air or so her legs can be on the ground to help her swing herself.  
  • There is a little velcro strap that is used to keep her on the swing.  It isn't great at securing your child to the swing and Emma has jerked herself back before and would have fallen off if I wasn't right there with her.  I don't leave her unattended in the Wingbo and when this happened I was so glad that I always stay within arms reach.  For a while we used the Waist Trimmer that we bought at Five Below for $5 (now she is better able to use the swing without trying to fall and we mostly use the velcro strap that came with it).  The waist trimmer is great to use as a velcro band to secure Emma to various things so she can't fall over or out and it's very soft and forgiving fabric (its similar to this one).  

If you have questions on either of these items please post them in the comments section so I can answer them.  My next review will include her jogging stroller and what we use for her bicycle trailer.  

4 Comments from readers:

Emily said...

Love the idea of sharing the equipment experience! Its so nice to hear what works and what doesn't! Thanks!

lovingmissliz7304 said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I am looking at purchasing a swim float for my daughter, who is 9. The only picture on-line I have found so far was on the website, with an adult. I was curious how it would fit a kid. This was so helpful. I think I'm going to go ahead and order one in a large (she's already over the 50 pound limit for the medium). Thanks. Jennifer

lovingmissliz7304 said...

I don't know why I said my daughter was 9. On re-reading my message I went, huh? She will be 8 next month.

Swimming float equipments said...

its really good review about swimming equipment