Neck floats are inflatable plastic rings that can be put around a baby’s neck to allow them to freely float in the water. Some neck floats are marketed for babies as young as two weeks old or premature.
The FDA said some manufacturers claim the products support water therapy in babies with developmental delays but the safety and effectiveness of neck floats as a physical therapy tool have not been confirmed.
The FDA said neck floats should not be used for water therapy intervention, especially in babies with developmental delays because it can lead to death or serious injury. Neck floats have not been evaluated by the FDA and they do not know of any benefits of using them.
If a baby in your care is injured by a neck float you are asked to report the incident to the FDA. The risks of using neck floats include drowning, suffocation, strain and injury to the baby’s neck.
Babies with special needs such as spina bifida or SMA Type 1 may be at an increased risk for serious injury, according to the FDA. At least one baby has died and another has been hospitalized because of neck floats.