Product Type: ELC Outdoor Toy
Newest Review: ... valve, there are directions printed on the ring to help. It took quite a lot of effort to inflate this and I decided after doing it ... more
There she blows!
ELC Zoggs Trainer Swim Seat
Member Name: jo1976
ELC Zoggs Trainer Swim Seat
Advantages: Good quality product, frees parents up in the pool
Disadvantages: Needs baby's co-operation to get them into position, time consuming to inflate and deflate
I didn't have much opportunity to take my youngest son swimming as a tiny baby so he was around nine months old by the time we first started taking swimming and, by that age, he was a little wary about the whole experience. I bought this Zoggs trainer seat hoping that my little one would feel more confident in the water if he was supported and able to kick his legs out freely. This Zoggs inflatable swim seat is pretty widely available with stockists including ELC and Argos and is available in two sizes - 3-12 months and 12-18 months. I paid £14.99 from Argos, which is the average price. I've used Zoggs swim products before, including armbands and swimming caps, and have always found them to be excellent quality so I was confident that this would be good value for money.
The swim seat is basically a large inflatable ring with a built-in seat section (similar to the design used inside sit-in baby walkers) to support baby in an upright position in the water. There is also a 'pillow' behind the child although I found that this is too far away from the baby to actually offer any physical support at all. What the back support does do, however, is provide a little bit of shelter from other children splashing nearby, which is helpful if baby is scared of splashing as mine was (and still is.) The PVC material itself is of excellent quality. It is incredibly thick and durable and all of the seams are very strongly reinforced, so this should be unlikely to break or puncture during normal use.
When originally purchased, this came in a tiny little box. Once the seat has been taken out it's physically impossible to fold it down small enough to get it back in that box however! On our initial use, I decided to transport the seat in its un-inflated state - thinking that it would be easier to carry about and hadn't had the foresight to practice blowing this up before first use. I soon discovered this was a mistake as the seat has four separate 'chambers', each of which needs to be inflated separately. Once fully inflated, the seat is actually quite large and takes a lot of blowing up to get this set up! I've felt faint before now trying to inflate it! That first attempt was a bit of a disaster as, by the time my husband was halfway through blowing it up, my little one was already hysterical and had enough of swimming altogether so I'd certainly recommend having this ready inflated, particularly if baby is already scared of swimming and likely to have very little time in the water. This does mean carting the inflated ring about with you, which is pretty bulky, but, as you'd expect, it is also very lightweight. After use, deflating all of the four sections is also pretty time consuming. Each section has its own individual valve and it takes some squishing and squeezing to get this totally free of air. The benefit of all those chambers (and all that blowing) is that the ring is never likely to deflate accidentally.
After our first disastrous experience, the next couple of attempts were not much more successful, despite advance preparation. The seat was a good fit for my son at the time who was well within the recommended age range and well under the 11kg maximum weight limit for the smaller seat. It still requires baby's co-operation to get them into position, as their legs need to go into the correct space within the ring, which can be a little tricky once fully inflated. My little one was never particularly keen on getting into this at all and it ended up becoming much more stressful trying to get him into his seat than the swimming experience itself. In the end, after a few miserable swimming sessions, we abandoned the trainer seat altogether and found that my son was much happier just being held in the water with armbands instead.
I've got no doubt that the trainer seat is ideal for some babies. I've seen plenty of other babies and toddlers floating around happily in these at the local pool and they seem excited to have their arms and legs free to splash around in the water. They also free up parents a little, particularly if they have other young children to supervise too, which is exactly why I thought that this would be a good idea. Sadly, my little one had other ideas and refused to co-operate meaning that this seat had relatively little use for us. I would still feel confident about recommending this as the quality of the product is excellent (despite the effort needed to inflate and deflate it.) I suspect that it would be far easier and more successful to introduce baby to this at a much younger age and that, with hindsight, is what I would have done too.
Summary: A useful product, providing baby is willing to be put into it!