Saturday, April 2, 2011

My verdict on the Swimming Neck Ring

Let me start by explaining the purpose of these neck rings.  I feel like I need to, because a simple google search for "swimming neck ring" leads one to find comments such as the ones below:

Laura says:

I could never do that to a child. Makes me feel sick. 

Molly says:
Honestly, that is the most horrifying and heart breaking thing I have ever seen.

When has suspending an infant by its head ever been thought of as a good idea????

Jamie says:

Those videos made me sick to my stomach. Why on earth would somebody do that to their poor baby?The babies aren’t even enjoying themselves.

Ilissa says:
I usually don’t comment on this sort of this but because I am appalled by this, I must. I think this is an absolutely horrible idea!
Here’s why:
1.) It is unsafe.
2.) It is ridiculous.
3.) It allows parents to get away with inadequate parenting.
4.) It decreases family and bonding time.
5.) It creates less than ideal memories for both the child and the parents.
6.) etc… I could go on and on.

Overall, I think this is an awful idea. I really don’t understand how something like this could be allowed to be sold.

Heather says:

This is scary and sad. What is wrong with people?! This is abuse, and these terrible things should be banned! 

So, as you can see, there are a lot of negative opinions out there.  So then WHY would a parent choose to use a neck ring for their child?  Here's why:

Hydrotherapy (water healing) has been recognized as beneficial since the dawn of civilization.
Water neutralizes the effects of gravity enabling your child to move with less effort.
Water therapy will improve lung capacity and strengthens extremities (arms/hands/fingers and legs/feet/toes).
Hydrotherapy studies document beneficial effects such as enhanced physical/mental development, increased weight gain and should be considered as an adjunct to traditional treatment strategies.

Any baby born before 37 weeks is at risk for “developmental delays.”
Twin or multi-birth babies are often born early and have lower birth weight, making them high risk.
Low birth weight (LBW or ELBW) is another risk factor for developmental delay.
Babies born between 32-37 weeks (the “barely” premature) have the highest incidence of learning disabilities once they start school.
Babies born between 23-28 weeks are at the highest risk for lifelong disabilities, such as cerebal palsy.
Birth trauma, birth injury, or any complication at birth increases the risk of neuromotor problems, such as seizures or ‘hypotonia’ (reduced muscle tone).
85% of brain development occurs during the first 3yrs of life – this provides an opportunity for water therapy to enhance a baby’s physical and mental development. 
So, Joshua suffered from a birth injury, has neuromotor problems, has had seizures and has the potential to have seizures in the future, has abnormal muscle tone, motor delays and is likely facing a diagnosis of cerebral palsy.  THAT is why we got a swimming neck ring :)

Joshua doesn't move his arms well, and particularly favours his left side.  I often refer to his right arm as being "decoration".  I hoped that putting him in the water in a neck ring would encourage more freedom of movement without having to fight against gravity, and that it would also encourage more equal use of both sides of his body.  I also hoped it would be fun!  I had heard such great things about it from other parents and watched a video on facebook of another little boy Joshua's age who has similar issues having the grandest of times in his bath, kicking around, splashing, flipping over this way and that way.

So... what do I think of it?

First of all, I tried it in the bath at home.  He cried.  The second time I tried it, he liked it a bit better but it wasn't the roaring success I had anticipated it being.  He didn't really move around in it, he just sat there kind of stunned.

Still, I really wanted to try it out in a pool so he would have more depth and really get to experience the weightlessness that it could offer him.  I was really apprehensive about it though....  Going to a public pool where other people might see us...  What if people thought things like the comments above?  What if they actually said something to me?  I am not sure how I would handle it.  I am a bit of a sook and don't really like confrontation.  In the end though, we went this morning. Nice and early to beat everyone else to the pool LOL.

And well....  it still wasn't a roaring success.  I don't think he feels very secure in it.  He doesn't move his arms, for the most part, he keeps them flexed and holding onto the ring (for dear life) LOL.  I try to take him by the arms and play games with him like Row row row your boat and try to encourage him to start splashing with his hands etc, but as soon as I let go of his hands, they go right back to holding onto the ring.

Here are some photos from today:

He didn't have a terrible time, but it also hasn't proved to be the amazing therapy device I hoped it would be.  (For us...  MANY others find it to be a wonderful piece of equipment!)  So, on that note, it is a good thing that I only bought a cheap Ebay version and didn't part with the $100+ for the "real" therapy versions  :)


  1. I love the pics. Will you keep trying? I think it might just take a few times for him to really feel comfortable with it. And all those dumbasses should just STFU, they don't know what they are talking about, and it's easy to jawjack behind your computer and not try to have a teeny bit of empathy to explore other people's realities. While I would never wish ill on anyone's child, I hope they all have truly monstrous teenagers who embarrass them every single day. ;)

  2. Where did you find those comments? I saw a youtube vid about the ring when I was trying to find one to buy, but I didn't look to see if there were any comments. It's just like how a woman on hiesc got a note stuck to her car for having her SN child's infant carseat in the front seat. They left a nasty note telling her off about how horrible she was for not obeying the law & putting her child in danger, blah blah blah when the real reason she had her baby in front was because she required constant suctioning. I would have seen the seat & probably thot the same thing. I doubt the fools even realize this is most often used as therapy. It just looks very strange, but they need to get a life anyways because there are bigger world issues than a freaking neck ring!

  3. hy.What are the sources of your documentation on the hydrotherapy? I am curious to learn it more! thanks

  4. Hi Virginie, I'm pretty sure I took that information from the Waterway babies website. So not exactly an unbiased source :)