As a former swim coach and lifeguard...

The best thing you can do for your kids is teach them how to swim but most importantly how to float and if they're in distress what to do.
I'm the mom at the edge of the pool. Still at 7 and 9 and my kids are really string swimmers but that doesn't matter. Anything can happen to any level of swimmer.
I hate rafts and floats in the pool. Too many is a disaster waiting to happen. Too many kids swimming underneath and sitting on top. You can get trapped under there so easily.

Moms Expertise
    What's your opinion on the puddle jumpers, Jessica?

    I am a nervous mom too when it comes to the water. We use puddle jumpers in the pool since I have 3 kids and 2 hands. But when we go to the beach I won't let the kids use them because my fear is (and it was confirmed by a lifeguard at the beach) the puddle jumper would just make them get swept out by the undertow faster than I can swim/catch them. That said, I also don't go to the beach without at least one more adult so there are more hands to help ;)
    I personally only used a vest for my kids. The puddle jumpers minimizes their arm use and they don't have control. They can't learn to swim with them either as they can barely move as I've witnessed. Same with arm floaties.. I feel a vest is great cause they can still use their body to move and arms and sort of navigate through the water and get a better feel so that when the vest comes off they're not so scared and helpless.
    At the beach. Same. You need a vest or no water above knees. My kids know not to go far and I'm still right there but one big wave and you're all out in the tide. Terrifying.

    I don't love the ocean. Lol
    About Jessica
    Born: Novato, California
    Current: Sherman Oaks, California
    Birth: May 28
    On since: Aug 5, 2013
    We live in Los Angeles, CA. I'm a writer, comedian, actor and single mom of two. Parenting is hard. I try to keep a sense of humor about it all and find the find the funny... in what is most likely NOT funny (i.e. boogers, meltdowns, homework, etc.).