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Press release: Baby swimming experts warn parents about the hidden risks of floating neck rings for babies




April 2017


Two of the UK’s major bodies involved in baby swimming teaching, STA and Birthlight, are urging parents to seriously think about the potential dangers of using floating neck rings on babies.  In a new report released today, both organisations warn about the damaging effect this aquatic activity could have on a baby’s physical, neurological and emotional development.

STA and Birthlight are united in saying that this activity involving neck rings cannot be promoted for routine use without serious warnings to all parents

Images of ‘so called’ baby spas have been rife in the press and on social media recently, and STA with Birthlight are growing increasingly concerned that parents will buy into what is being marketed as a ‘pamper experience’; without fully understanding the potential harmful risks posed by hanging your baby vertically in water with their head supported by a semi-rigid foam or plastic structure.

STA is concerned that parents might be attracted by the serene pictures of calm babies in the water and the fact they don’t have to physically get in the pool at a ‘baby spa’; instead they can relax and watch from the pool / tank side.  But as the leading provider of baby swimming teaching in the UK, their top experts are questioning what effect this neck device could have on the development of babies’ spines and therefore nervous systems and brain.  

Kayle Burgham, STA’s Aquatics Manager who promotes aquatic activities that best support infant development, said:While disengaging from the world in floating tanks can be wonderfully relaxing for stressed adults; this is not what babies want or need – physically or emotionally.”

“This isolated activity completely goes against the very essence of baby swimming, which is human contact: bonding with your child so they can explore the water in a safe, relaxed, fun environment,” she added.

Francoise Freedman, the founder of Birthlight and one of the world’s leading experts on baby swimming says: “The water is wonderful for expanding babies’ opportunities to explore the reflexes, movement patterns and pathways for sensory and motor development. These babies being placed in floating rings are missing out on what the water can uniquely offer to promote and mediate a dynamic connection between parents and babies.”

“Plus there are the potential risks linked to the frequent use of a neck device that claims total safety and apparent comfort for babies, yet deprives them of the freedom to move which we now know can have long term implications,” explains Francoise.

Co-author of the report, Shawn Tomlinson, Birthlight and STA Baby Swimming Tutor, says further: “A neck ring creates a vacuum where the baby is incapacitated and cannot connect with anyone or anything. There are no safe boundaries to touch or feel. Self-expression through body language, which the water ideally facilitates, is lost because movements are restricted.”

Both STA and Birthlight, alongside leading baby swimming providers, are united in saying that this activity involving neck rings cannot be promoted for routine use without serious warnings to all parents.

Read the full report here titled ‘The Hidden Risks of Floating Neck Rings for Babies’.


Editors Notes:

About STA
Founded in 1932, STA is a registered charity whose objective is ‘The preservation of human life by the teaching of swimming, lifesaving and survival techniques’. As an accredited awarding body, STA is also recognised internationally for its range of swimming teaching, lifesaving, first aid and pool plant management qualifications – and is the UK’s leading expert in baby swimming teaching.

About Birthlight
For the last 20 years, Birthlight’s teaching methodology has focused on the belief that a lifelong love of water and enjoyment of swimming are best generated by a confident and loving handling of babies in water, by swimming with babies and by imparting gentle progressive methods towards unaided swimming, without ever resorting to forceful conditioning.

For further media information, please contact Samantha Stewart - Imagine Communications
Tel: 01746 763576 / Email: [email protected]