A flotation device for infants that has long been used in Asia is starting to catch on here in the U.S. too. And a Bay Area woman is behind it all. 7 On Your Side checked out the odd-looking Otteroo.
The devices are called neck floats and look similar to an inner tube or swim ring kids have always used, but this one doesn't fit around the waist.
Two babies trying out the very latest in pool gear. The Otteroo neck float.
Infants Samira and Audree are trying out the devices for the very first time at our request. They seem to be loving it.
Finney: "It looks weird."
Tiffany Chiu: "It does, yes. People's reactions are either, 'That is so cute or that is weird.'"
Chiu first saw neck floats when she was in Asia. She came back to the states, worked on the design for two years, then introduced the Otteroo.
"When a baby was in their mommy's belly they actually are in fluid so they are very comfortable. But as they get older they sometimes babies develop the fear of water," Chiu said.
She has been working on the design with specialists including pediatricians.
"There are a lot of benefit with such a device. It allows an infant to really free explore a natural environment which is water for them," Joseph Kim, M.D., an advisor to Otteroo, said.
But is it safe? Other versions of the neck float or neck floaties have been available through the web for several years and we couldn't find any reports of kids being injured. And Chiu says her Otteroo is designed to be even safer. So we asked the California Public Interest Research Group, CALPIRG, to look it over.
"I have no reason to believe that this product cannot be used safely. But I do have to say that parents and caregivers must by hyper vigilant anytime their child is in or has access to a body of water," Emily Rusch from CALPIRG said.
So it builds the child physically and look like they are having fun, but what do the mom's think?
"It made me nervous because what it went around the neck, but is it going to be comfortable, but it doesn't seem to bother her," Julie Courtney, Audree's mom, said.
Both our mom's liked the Otteroo and say their babies do too.
"I do I love it. Hopefully they are going to give us one for doing this," Aimee Drescher, Samira's mom, said.
All of our experts say it is important the caregiver always be within an arm's reach of the child and we found one online review of a floatie -- not the Otteroo -- where the baby slipped through the device but was not injured. The Otteroo sells for $35 and is available through its website.