Review of Monkey Swimmers. The world’s slimmest adjustable foam swimming armbands.

Photo showing the Monkey Swimmers

To fit in with the end of Child Safety Week 2011 I thought I would introduce you all to a new product called ‘Monkey Swimmers’.  They are a new alternative to the inflatable swimming arm bands that we all know.  They are the world’s slimmest adjustable foam armbands and act as a swimming aid to help keep your child safe in the pool. The box states ‘Learning to swim has never been safer!’.

Photo showing the box for the Monkey Swimmers

Monkey Swimmers are used as part of the ‘Monkey Swim’ concept which aims to help teach your child to swim. Basically you buy the ‘Monkey Swimmers’ package for £19.99 with £3 postage and in the box you get the armbands, a keepsake story book which introduces the Monkey Swimmers to your child whilst encouraging them to use them in the pool and also a fold out progress chart to put on your wall and mark off. as your child learns to swim
Monkey Swimmers are made from recyclable foam and they have 4 layers to them. There are 3 soft foam layers which can be removed to alter the buoyancy which then results with your child being left with the inner layer towards the end of the swimming system. The centre of the armbands has a removable star shape which then leaves you with the holes for your child’s arms to go through.

I was very interested in reviewing the Monkey Swimmers as I have never seen anything like them before. I have only ever seen inflatable arm bands which you can buy quite cheaply for £1 upwards. The Monkey Swimmers are much more money at nearly £20 but they are actually a swimming system – not just armbands. The idea is that you read the book to your child to get them interested in wearing the Monkey Swimmers, you then put up your progress chart so you can tick the boxes as your child learns to swim and then when your child goes swimming they wear the Monkey Swimmers and you gradually remove the 3 outer layers over time so that in the end, your child will be left with just a small foam band on their arms which will provide a small amount of buoyancy in the water. The outer layers on the Monkey Swimmers are designed to be removed in 3 steps as your child gains confidence in the water.

The Monkey Swimmers have a dedicated website at http://www.monkeys-inc.com/. I have just been over there to have a scout around for any useful info for you and nearly fell off my chair with the shock of hearing a ‘monkey scream’ when a video on the page loaded. It is nearly midnight when I am writing this and my daughter’s asleep next door in her cot…I wasn’t expecting the jungle sound and my speaker volume was on full! The bonus is that I am now wide awake to write this review. 🙂


Photo showing the Monkey Swimmers



The Monkey Swimmers are presented in a cardboard box with a carry handle. The box is decorated with a rainforest theme and adorable drawings of monkeys swimming whilst wearing ‘Monkey Swimmers’ on their arms.

The Monkey Swimmers are being marketed as the world’s first swim system that will actually prepare your child for swimming lessons. They are fully recyclable and made in the UK. They meet safety tests BSEN 13138 and EN71-3.  There is a chart relating to the safety test on the side of the box but I have to say I couldn’t really understand what the chart was trying to tell me. As far as I know, all it indicates is that the Monkey Swimmers are designed to be worn by an active user weighing between 11-30 kilo (1-6years) and they are to introduce the wearer to swimming strokes. Personally I would prefer it if the box did not have this chart on but instead has a written sentence similar to the one I wrote above. I think it would be easier to understand that way. Here is a photo of the chart:-



Photo showing the box for the Monkey Swimmers



I tried out the Monkey Swimmers when I went on a long Easter weekend break with my family. We went swimming and tested out my daughter’s new armbands. I was really eager for them to be fantastic and the best thing sliced banana (as stated on the box) but I’m afraid I actually struggled to get on well with them.  The main issues was that I found them to be too tight fitting on my daughter’s arms and they were too difficult to get on to her arms in the first place. I can fully understand that they must not be loose on her arms as they would then not be a very safe swimming aid but the whole time she had them on I was continually worrying myself that I was hurting her by making her wear them.  I think this worry was made worse by the fact that she was the only child in the pool with Monkey Swimmers as it made me feel like the odd one out and everyone was looking at them. They were probably just intrigued by the armbands as they are unusual and much slimmer than normal inflatable ones. 
Photo showing the box for the Monkey Swimmers

I’m not saying I don’t like the Monkey Swimmers…because I do! I love the concept of gradually removing layers to help teach your child to swim however I just worry that they are hurting her arms and that is obviously a major concern. As she gets older she will be able to tell me if they are hurting her so I think I’ll use normal inflatable armbands for now and have another go with the Monkey Swimmers when she is older and able to express herself more.


Photo showing the chart which accompanies

 the Monkey Swimmers



The Monkey Swimmers have a lot of Pros and Cons. I’ve listed them below for you:-

PROS

  1. The biggest pro has to be the fact that they can help to teach your child to swim though the removal of the foam layers. I can’t verify yet if they will help my daughter to swim as she has only used them once when she was 21 months old. I am hopeful that if they don’t hurt her arms and she continues to use them, that in the coming months and years ahead they will help her to learn to swim.
  2. They are tight fitting and there is not much chance of them coming off your child’s arm in the water.
  3. They are fully recyclable and contain no nasty chemicals, unlike the conventional inflatable armbands that can contain toxic plasticizers, like naphthalene and phthalates. Phthalates are believed to damage the liver, kidneys and reproductive organs.
  4. The accompanying book is a good way to encourage your child to use the arm bands as it actively involves them in the decision to learn to swim.
  5. They are slim line so they don’t get in your child’s way when they are trying to swim. Unlike large inflatable arm bands.
  6. You get to keep the inner cut-outs that are star fish shaped to use as floating toys in the bath or pool.



Photo showing the book which accompanies
 the Monkey Swimmers



CONS
  1. Personally I feel they are expensive at £19.99 with £3 shipping. When you consider some normal inflatable arm bands can be bought for as little as 99p. I understand that you are paying for the whole ‘swim system’ which combines the book, chart and armbands but even so that is more money than I would personally pay for them. I think £12 or £13 is probably more what I would consider paying. I also think it would be great if the Monkey Swimmers were available on their own without the book and chart.
  2. Once you remove a foam layer to decrease the buoyancy the layers cannot be put back on again. This I’m afraid is my biggest bug bear about the product. I don’t like the fact that because of this they cannot be re-used with subsequent children. Also, I would worry that I would remove a layer and then decide my daughter did in fact need it …but by then it is too late! I’d be stuck with arm bands that didn’t provide the correct amount of buoyancy for her.  There is no instructions explaining how to tell when your child is buoyant enough to remove a layer.  Maybe it is self-explanatory but as I have never taught a child to swim before I don’t really know what to look for as indications that she is becoming more buoyant. It would be nice to see some more guidance on this within the Monkey Swimmers package. I also really think they should make it more apparent on their item descriptions on their site and on amazon, etc that once the outer layers have been removed you can no longer put them back on.
  3. They are very bulky to transport to the swimming pool or even more so on holiday! When you take a child swimming you already have tons of stuff to take and these armbands take up a lot more space in your swimming bag than normal inflatable ones. This is much more apparent when you are packing for a holiday. If you were taking 2 or even 3 children on holiday, where you would more than likely be going swimming, you would find the amount of storage space needed in your suitcase for these armbands to be much, much more than 3 pairs of inflatable arm bands.
  4. The foam is easily dented when transporting them on holidays. When I went on my Easter break I packed these armbands in the boot along with all the other holiday things needed. I was consciously careful to avoid damaging them and yet when I got to my destination I found that I had dented the rounded corners of the armbands because they must have been pressed up against something in the boot.  If you were packing these in a suitcase along wit all your holiday things to take on a flight for example you would have to be very careful how you packed them to avoid them getting damaged in transit. In hindsight I can now see it may be better to just keep them in the box and use it as a carry case!! I advise that is what you do if you buy some. 🙂
  5. The chart is quite large but it only has 4 tick boxes on it. I think there should be more tick boxes…to aid encouragement for the child. I think the chart could be further improved with swimming tips or example swimming techniques.
  6. My daughter keeps trying to bite on the foam and yet she has outgrown the urge to bite everything in sight. It must just be something about the foam that makes her want to nibble on it. 🙂 
  7. They are tight fitting and quite awkward to get on your child’s upper arm. It is best to do it in the water when your child’s arm is wet and so are the armbands. I didn’t like to see the compressed triangle shapes pressed against her arms as I worried they were hurting her. (See the photo to see the triangles I am talking about)  I don’t think they were but it did bother me that they appeared so tight. But as I mentioned in my PRO points…this is also a good thing as you know that they won’t easily slip off your child’s arm in the water.
Photo showing the book which accompanies
 the Monkey Swimmers

When I tested these out on our holiday I ended up removing them from my daughter’s arms half way through our swimming session because of the tightness. I was convinced that I would probably just stick to the cheap inflatable arm bands in the future…as I really didn’t like how tight they seemed to be on her arms. This however was until I watched a young boy aged about 5 or 6 on a child’s inflatable jet ski ( in an activity session after our swimming session). He was wearing some massive inflatable arm bands that were obviously getting in his way and hindering his enjoyment of the activity.

Photo showing the box for the Monkey Swimmers

He was only travelling slowly on the water walker but he fell off and his armbands did too! That is when I completely changed my mind and decided I would definitely be sticking to using the Monkey Swimmers in the future when my daughter is old enough to learn to swim! I did not want my daughter ever being in a position where her arm band just slips off! The boy was fine, his parents shouted ‘put your arm band back on’ and he did just that…but just watching that was enough to make me realise why the Monkey Swimmers need to be tight! Thus…in conclusion…I do recommend these Monkey Swimmers to you. I still think they are bulky to transport and I still don’t like the fact that the removable layers can’t be put back on again but I think ultimately the thing that swings it for me is that they seem like a safer option than inflatable arm bands. Knowing what I am like I will probably still end up taking a pair of deflated arm bands with me just in case my daughter decides she doesn’t like to wear the Monkey Swimmers or she says they are hurting her.

Photo showing the removable starfish

shapes on the Monkey Swimmers

You can buy a specially designed backpack on their website for £14.99. It  has been sold out since late April though and it doesn’t say when it will be back in stock. You can contact Monkeys Inc here though and I’m sure they’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about the Monkey Swim concept or the stock availability of any products.



Photo showing the book which accompanies
 the Monkey Swimmers



There is a really informative interview with the inventor of Monkey Swimmers here. Please have a read as it tells the whole complex story of how she brought the product to market.
I think it is fantastic that Mumpreneur Donna Heaton invented Monkey Swimmers as it is lovely to now have a recyclable, environmentally friendly alternative to the plastic, chemical-enriched inflatable armband.  The product does seem to be expensive but if you feel that it can give your child the confidence they need to learn to swim then they are well worth the price.
Logo courtesy of Monkeys Inc

You can follow Monkeys inc on Twitter and Facebook.

Please click here to visit the website.

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