Do Baby Neck Floats Cause Neck Strain or Hurt Baby's Neck?

Do Baby Neck Floats Cause Neck Strain or Hurt Baby's Neck?

Are Baby Neck Floats Safe? Reading Do Baby Neck Floats Cause Neck Strain or Hurt Baby's Neck? 7 minutes Next Your Baby’s Earliest Learning Tool is Touch

“Doesn’t the Otteroo cause neck strain on the baby?” is a question we get all the time. We totally get it, when you see a picture or video of a baby floating happily in this neck ‘thing,’ you think about how it’d feel for you to be held up by the neck. You may not think of your small head-to-body ratio, low body fat percentage, and bottom-heavy body, but…compared to a baby? Adults are proportionately very different.

Basic understanding of the infant body and water’s buoyancy logically explain how there’s virtually no weight or strain placed on the baby’s neck when floating in the water with an Otteroo, though no one has yet published a study on potential strain specifically relating to an infant neck float (because who would want to enroll their baby in such a study?!).

We decided to lay out how, when properly used in the water, it is highly unlikely, if not impossible, for the Otteroo to strain the neck in a way that can harm the baby. But, if you have any concerns please do talk to your baby’s pediatrician.

What can cause infant neck strain?

It’s a horrific scenario to even imagine but it takes a LOT, about 150 pounds, of tensile force being placed on an infant’s neck to cause notable damage to the cervical vertebra (neck) and ligaments.1 We have these data thanks to engineers who are interested in finding ways to minimize injuries to babies during vehicle accidents.

The neck is flexible and very strong; in fact, the forces of natural childbirth on your baby’s cervical spine far exceed what he or she would experience in the Otteroo. Moreover, during a vacuum-assisted vaginal delivery2, an infant’s neck must withstand external forces of up to 115 newtons (during each of the 2-3 pulls), which is significantly higher than the approximate 4.5 newtons (see the 3rd point below) experienced by a baby in Otteroo.

Why a Baby Only Experiences a Small Amount of Force in Otteroo:

1. Babies have bigger heads

  • The body proportions of infants are very different from those of older children and adults.
  • The infant's head accounts for approximately 25% of the infant's whole body mass.3 Consequently, approximately 25% of the infant's weight is directly supported by the Otteroo. The remaining 75% is in the water.

2. Babies are fatty

  • At approximately 4 months of age, the infant's body composition is approximately 25% fat mass. Fat is less dense than water and therefore floats.4 /li>
  • Of the remaining 75% fat-free mass, approximately 80% is water.5
  • As a result, babies float better than adults! When you combine the infant's fat mass and water mass, the infant's body is very buoyant (even the remaining fat-free mass will be buoyed by the water it displaces).

Source: Journal of Heredity (1921) Volume 12, 421

3. Buoyancy!

In a 1987 study, it was found that a body submerged up to C-7 (neck level) weighed only 5.9-10% of actual body weight.6 In other words, when you immerse your body in the water up to the neck, the buoyancy of water can reduce your weight by 90-94%. That study looked at adult bodies, which are far more dense than a baby’s body. Our internal testing showed that an 11lb baby weighed only 1lb (translates to 4.5 newtons) while in Otteroo.

If all that science didn't convince you, the smile on your baby's face while in the Otteroo should say it all.

Lastly, we want to remind you that not all neck floaties are created equally! Take a minute to read our recent post about the shocking truth behind generic baby neck floaties.



1 Arbogast, K. B., & Maltese, M. R. (2014). Pediatric biomechanics. New York, NY: Springer.

2 Goordyal, Dushyant & Anderson, John & Alazmani, Ali & Culmer, Peter. (2020). An engineering perspective of vacuum assisted delivery devices in obstetrics: A review. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Part H, Journal of engineering in medicine. 235. 954411920956467. 10.1177/0954411920956467.

Huelke, D.F. (1998). An Overview of Anatomical Considerations of Infants and Children in the Adult World of Automobile Safety Design. Annual Proceedings for the Association of the Advancement of Automotive Medicine, 42, 93-113. Retrieved from

4 Schmelzle, H. & Fusch, C. (2002). Body fat in neonates and young infants: validation of skinfold thickness versus dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry 1,2,3. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1096-1100. Retrieved from

5 Fomon, S. J., Haschke, F., Ziegler, E. E., & Nelson, S. E. (1982). Body composition of reference children from birth to age 10 years. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 35, 1169-1175. Retrieved from

Stuart AR, Doble J, Presson AP, Kubiak EN. Anatomic landmarks facilitate predictable partial lower limb loading during aquatic weight bearing. Curr Orthop Pract. 2015 Jul-Aug;26(4):414-419. doi: 10.1097/BCO.0000000000000250. Epub 2015 May 12. PMID: 26600921; PMCID: PMC4654409. Retrieved from

Additional Sources:

Dibb, A.T., Nightingale, R.W., Luck, J.F., Chancey, V.C., Fronheiser, L.E., & Myers, B.S. (2009). Tension and combined tension-extension structural response and tolerance properties of the human male ligamentous cervical spine. J Biomech Eng 131(8), 081008-081008-11. doi: 10.1115/1.3127257.

Lee, H. M. & Galloway, J. C. (2012). Early Intensive Postural and Movement Training Advances Head Control in Very Young Infants. Physical Therapy 92(7), 935-947.

Luck, J. F., Nightingale, R. W., Song, Y., Kait, J. R., Loyd, A. M., Myers, B. S., & Bass ,C. R. (2013). Tensile failure properties of the perinatal, neonatal, and pediatric cadaveric cervical spine. Spine 38(1), E1–E12. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e3182793873.

Nightingale, R. W., Carol Chancey, V., Ottaviano, D., Luck, J. F., Tran, L., Prange, M., & Myers, B. S. (2007). Flexion and extension structural properties and strengths for male cervical spine segments. J Biomech 40(3), 535–542. Retrieved from

Nuckley, D. J., Hertsted, S. M., Ku, G. S., Eck, M. P., & Ching, R. P. (2002). Compressive tolerance of the maturing cervical spine. Stapp Car Crash J 46, 431–440. Retrieved from

Reissland, N. J., & Burghart, R. (1987). The role of massage in South Asia: Child health and development. Social Science and Medicine, 25(3), 231-239.

Van Ee, C. A., Nightingale, R. W., Camacho, D. L., Carol Chancey, V., Knaub, K. E., Sun, E. A., Myers, B. S. (2000). Tensile properties of the human muscular and ligamentous cervical spine. Stapp Car Crash J 44, 85–102. Retrieved from

Weber, D., Leonard, M., & Zemel, B. (2012). Body Composition Analysis in the Pediatric Population. Pediatric Endocrinology Rev. 10(1): 130–139. Retrieved from

Yoganandan, N., Nahum, A., & Melvin, J.W. (Eds.). (2014). Accidental Injury: Biomechanics and Prevention. New York, NY: Springer.


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