Young boy holding an inflatable crocodile
Photo: Johner

Buying and using inflatable water toys

Water fun and games, on the beach or at the pool, are part of summer. There are countless products on the market, but not all of them are suitable for young children. Here is our advice.

Different requirements for different products

Most of the inflatable water toys used on beaches during the summer are defined as toys and must meet a number of requirements. This applies to toys that are intended for use in shallow water and devices that can keep a child afloat or support a child in the water, such as armbands, small lilos, and swim rings with a diameter of less than 1.2 metres.

Inflatable water toys with a diameter greater than 1.2 metres are normally intended for use in deep water and are therefore not considered as toys, but as sports and leisure products. Swimming training equipment for children is also not considered as pool toys. Different requirements apply here than products considered as toys.

Requirements and CE marking for inflatable water toys for children

The companies that manufacture, import and sell the products are responsible for ensuring that the products meet the regulatory safety requirements and thus are safe to use. The products must be labelled with the CE mark, which is the manufacturer’s guarantee of compliance with the relevant requirements.

For example, the requirements state that water toys must have a warning sign and clearly indicate which age range the toy is intended for.

DSB and the Norwegian Environment Agency are responsible for supervising compliance with the regulations. This means that we can perform market inspections and spot checks to verify that the manufacturers are fulfilling the requirements. It does not mean that we have tested and approved all the products that can be found on the market.

As a consumer, you must therefore be vigilant and use your own judgement before buying a product. It is also important to think about safety while you are using it.

Important tips

Read the instructions for use and choose toys that are for the right age group if you are buying for a child. Inflatable water toys are not safety products and should not be used as an alternative to a life jacket or other safety equipment.

Always keep a close eye on children playing with inflatable water toys in or near water. Children who do not know how to swim should wear a life jacket.

Although inflatable toys and floating leisure items are subject to safety and functionality requirements, it is important to bear in mind that various external factors can also affect safety. For example, wind or currents can drag you out to sea and make it difficult to get back to land.

It is also important to bear in mind that when there are many large water toys / floating leisure items on the beach or in the water, it will also be difficult to see what is going on, both on land and in the water.

Checklist before you buy:

  • Check that the product is CE marked and has the warning label “Only to be used in water in which the child is within its depth and under adult supervision”.
  • Check the age rating and choose items by age if you are buying for a child.
  • Check that the air valve has a stopper / plug. This should be permanently attached to the product.
  • Check whether there are weight limits and make sure that the buoyancy is good enough relative to the weight the product is going to bear.
  • Look for instructions for safe use and/or ask the retailer.

Tips for safe use:

  • Remember that these items are toys, not safety devices.
  • Read and follow the user instructions and any warnings.
  • Assess whether the item is suitable for your child, based on the child’s age, size and ability to swim. Children who do not know how to swim should wear a life jacket. 
  • Put your phone down and pay attention while your children are playing.

Report faults

If you are worried or unsure about the labelling or use of a product, you should notify the retail outlet and/or the authorities.

You can report concerns about different products on the Norwegian dangerous products website: This website also has important information about products that have been classified as dangerous and that it is important that you do not use. It is therefore a good idea to make it a habit to check whenever you buy something, especially from abroad, online or second-hand. Obviously, you should not buy products that have been categorised as dangerous.