When it's summer, we like to relax and have fun with family and friends in the pool, beach, or lake. If you’re a parent of an infant, then having fun in the water is a close second behind safety.
As parents, we always wish to protect our children from all possible dangers, but unfortunately, accidents happen. One of the most common accidents that occur near water is drowning. It's always better to prevent such incidents when you have plans to spend time in the water.
Thankfully, there are many life jackets for children, including infants, that protect from such tragic accidents. We have listed the best of the jackets around that help us to select the perfect product for our little ones.
Best Life Jacket for Baby: Top Picks
If we want our little ones to introduce water or swimming, then Stearns Infant Classic Series Vest is the one. It’s a basic infant life jacket everyone should think about for their toddlers. It's been approved by the US Coast-Guard, and it's suitable for tow sport, personal watercraft, and it can be used at the beach, pool, or lake.
It's made of PE flotation foam with a durable nylon shell. It's perfect for children that weigh less than 30 lbs. For extra safety, there’s a leg strap and a handle for parents to control where their baby swims and how far away they are. There’s an adjustable chest strap, a zipper, and closed sides to fit better.
- It's a basic jacket for an excellent price
- It can be used for children weighing less than 30 pounds
- It comes with padding behind for head support.
- Coast-Guard approves it
- Discomfort issues
- The material can be damaged
Overall, many customers have given good reviews of the product on its ability to balance the babies and adjustable straps that help in the right fitting and other features.
There are other reviews that say it’s bulky for infants and is suitable for toddlers. Others have mentioned that the jacket's material durability should also be taken into consideration as they have had negative experiences.
Stohlquist Toddler Life Jackets are designed to keep our child safe in the water without sacrificing comfort. This product is also approved by the US Coast Guard. It’s designed to be very secure and comfortable so that it gives freedom of movement to a child to paddle or kick in the water.
One of the unique features of this product is that it comes with dual collard padding for head support. With an open neck, movement of the head is not restricted. All the straps are adjustable, including the crotch strap.
For security, there’s a quick-release buckle over the entry zipper. Convenient grab handles to control the movement. It can be used for drying and storage purposes.
An open back provides seating comfort, and breathability. Large armholes to avoid chafing and allows free movement of hands
It's available in Type II as well as in Type III jackets. Based on the requirement, we can select which fits our children correctly. The unique wrap-around flotation turns a child face-up.
- Unique double collar for safety and comfort
- Available in Type II and Type III jackets.
- Available in different bright colors
- Both buckle and straps available for extra security
- Chances of chafing due to zipper
- A little expensive.
Though it's a little expensive, many customers are happy with this product. It provides more security, and it has unique features and is comfortable. It's suitable for infants and children under 30 pounds.
A few users complained about chafing, but it can be addressed by wearing a waterproof undershirt.
O'Neill is a well-known manufacturer in the surfing industry, so this product can be trusted and can hold up longer than the average life jacket. It’s designed to quickly flip your baby on his/her back in case of accidents that prevent drowning and keeps the baby's face out of water.
It’s a US Coast Guard-approved life vest. It's a Type II life jacket. This vest can be used for children weighing up to 30 pounds. It's also available in two colors, pink and yellow.
It's a lightweight product manufactured using polyethylene foam that’s covered with a coated polyester shell. It’s soft and comfortable, which avoids chafing.
For quick release, there are three Delrin Buckles along with zippers for a good fit and to make it secure. There’s a collar that provides neck support for the baby, and it can be bent over when it's not required.
Crotch straps can be adjusted for proper fitting and will simultaneously tug down the vest, which usually forms discomfort to the babies near the neck. There are large grab handles to pull the child when required.
- Adjustable collar
- Soft hence prevents chafing
- Quick-release buckles
- A bit bulky
- Fitting problems
There are mixed responses from the users. Many users found it soft and comfortable, which keeps their babies secure. A few had concerns about the size of the jacket as it fits better for kids who are about 30-50 pounds rather than the newborns, and it was reasonably priced
Full throttle infant baby vest is designed uniquely compared to other life jackets. It's in an upside-down teardrop shape. It's designed to help babies stay on their back without flipping. It's a Type II PFD, so it’s suitable for infants and children below 30 pounds.
The design of this jacket is highly functional and has a variety of features. One worth mentioning is the oversized collar for complete head support. It can also be folded down when you don’t need it.
It has one buckle at the shoulder and another at the waist. There’s an elastic wrap around the neck that makes it easy to put on and take off the jacket.
It’s lightweight, and it’s filled with durable flotation foam that makes it soft and comfortable. The jacket has a grab strap for convenient pulling of the baby.
Another unique feature is the elasticized leg strap, more like a saddle that fastens in between the baby's legs and across their back for security. Many babies find this jacket design more comfortable than others as it fits tightly, and getting in and out is much easier.
- Very lightweight (0.16 ounces)
- Waist belt and buckle on the collar
- Sturdy grab strap for easy pull
- Elasticized leg strap for better fitting
- Mobility can be restricted for older kids
Many users found it helpful for infants because of their unique design and other features. Few kids found it uncomfortable as it limits the movement of hands. It's worth the price.
A few times, it slides up and stays at the baby's neck, but that can be fixed with proper adjustment of the straps. Overall it's a good buy if it's for newborns.
AIRHEAD treasure infant life jackets are manufactured specifically for infants to keep them safe in the water. It boasts an ocean-inspired graphic design for the young ones to look cute.
It’s a Coast Guard-approved for infants under 15-30 pounds; it’s a type II PFD.
This vest is lightweight, and the exterior is a UV protected polyester shell so that it’s soft and comfortable. It has a segmented headrest for neck support, which ensures the child stays face up when they are in the water. The grab handle is attached with the headrest for convenient pulling.
There are three buckle straps along the waist and a zipper closure. Also, there’s an adjustable and comfortable body and crotch straps for extra safety.
- UV protected polyester shell
- Segmented headrest
- Soft and comfortable
- Ocean-inspired graphic design
- Sizing problem
It's excellent value for money. It has perfect features that are necessary for the infant's protection in the water. Many users are in love with the cute graphic design and also with the soft and comfortable fit.
A few users faced fitting problems as its bulky for a baby, and some had concerns about flipping and the jacket being unable to face upright.
Baby Life Jacket Buying Guide
It's important to know the type of life jackets or Personal Flotation Device(PFD) and the purpose each serves before sailing or having fun in the pool.
There are four standards of life jackets found around the world
- US Standards – USCG Approved
- International Standards – ISO
- European Standards – CE
- Commercial Standards – SOLAS
We’re going to elaborate on the 5 types of flotation devices as defined by US Standards.
Type I: Offshore Life Jackets
These are suitable for rough oceans and seas. For the most part, they have reflective tape and are available in a variety of bright colors. They are bulky, but they also provide the most buoyancy, so it’s worth the slight discomfort. It’s difficult to find Type I jackets for children.
Type II: Near-Shore Vest
These aren’t suitable for inclement weather but are good for calm inland waters like lakes or pools. They are bulky but not as much as Type I. They’re usually inexpensive and are ideal for infants and children.
Type III: Flotation Aids:
Type III life jackets are suitable for adults and children where rescue can happen quickly in case of accidents. It's lightweight compared to Type I and Type II life jackets. They’re very comfortable, but provide less flotation than the other two types discussed above.
Type IV: Throwable Devices:
They are the ring or cushions buoys that are thrown to provide support or backup for PFD. They cannot be used in rough water and are also not for non-swimmers. This can’t be used for infants or children; instead, it’s designed as rescue equipment.
Type V: Special-Use Devices:
These personal flotation devices are designed for particular water activities like kayaking, windsurfing, or water skiing. The label on each vest specifies where/which activity they can be used.
They’re pretty comfortable, and some of these vests inflate automatically when entering the water. They come in different varieties like work vests, board-sailing vests, deck suits, etc.
Before buying life jackets for infants, look for these below features:
1. Logo and Approval from the Coast Guard
Look for a logo or a sign that indicates that the Coast Guard approves the product. It’s not advisable to purchase without certified logos on the packaging, because it could be made with subpar materials, and it didn’t pass the rigorous safety testing.
2. Safety and Security
The jackets we select should be safe and secure. There should be straps near legs so that the jackets don't slip over the head of the child.
If there are no straps, then we can test by pulling the jacket from the shoulders. If it doesn't slip, then it's safe enough to use it.
Jackets with head protection are crucial for infants or children who can't swim. They can lay their head on the cushion and enjoy being in the water and just lay there relaxed and happy.
Choosing bright colors like orange or green is advisable because it will contrast against the water, and visibility is important in case of an emergency. Avoid selecting a grey or blue color that blends in with the color of the water.
4. Grab Handles
Look for a feature in jackets that have sturdy grab handles or straps. It’s easy to control the movement of the child and pull them back if required.
5. Size and Comfort
Selecting the right size increases the comfort of using a life jacket. Size depends on the weight of the babies. They come in three different sizes.
Infants – babies who weigh up to 30 pounds can choose this size. Child – children who come under 30-50 pounds can go for this size and Youth – those who weigh from 50 to 90 can select this size.
Buying an oversized jacket can always cause discomfort in children, and this may discourage your child from wanting to wear one.
6. Test the Jacket
Before heading to the water directly, try testing in a pool just to make sure that it’s the right size for your child, and that it works properly.
FAQs about Baby Life Jackets
Why Does My Child Need a Life Jacket?
Drowning has become the number one cause for accidental death among children aged 1-4. To avoid such fatal accidents, it's always excellent protection to wear a life jacket along with the parent's supervision.
Even if the child knows how to swim, wearing a life jacket is suggested. In case the child flips, then the jacket helps him from drowning. If you wish to go on a boat with a child, then it's the law to wear a life jacket if they are under 14 years of age.
What Types of Life Jackets are Available?
As mentioned above, there are five types of jackets available. Type II is mostly used for infants and children. It's lighter than a Type I life jacket, and the features like head protection and adjustable leg straps are suitable for children. Different sizes are available for each age group.
What Is the Crotch Strap Used For?
Similar to a car seat, the crotch strap ensures the jacket doesn't come off of the child. Since heads of infants are smaller than adults, there’s a possibility of the vest slipping over the head, and the strap acts as an extra layer of security.
Are There Life Jackets for Newborns?
Yes, Type II jackets, which are categorized as classic life jackets, can be worn by newborns.
Should Babies Wear Life Jackets?
Yes, babies should wear life jackets. It's Federal Law that children under the age of 13 must wear a life jacket when they are on a watercraft
When are You Required to Wear a Life Jacket?
You must wear a life jacket if you are doing one of the following
- If the boat you are using is less than 15.75 ft. in length
- If there are children under age 12 in an open boat that is less than 15.75 ft. in length.
What is an Inflatable Life Jacket?
Inflatable jackets use air chambers that can be filled with air or some other type of gas. It can be automatically or manually inflated, and if it’s manually inflated, there will either be a ripcord or a tube to blow air into.
Time well spent on the water isn’t just about happiness but also being safe. It's never too early to introduce kids to safety equipment like a good life jacket. It’s highly recommended to purchase jackets that are approved by the Coast Guard.
Each jacket has some unique features to offer, so it’s worth going through the details to fit your toddler. It’s highly recommended not to miss out on overlooked features such as secure fastenings and striking variants.
Make sure the child is comfortable after wearing the jacket. Check for fitting even if the weight requirement is matched. It’s better to try it beforehand in a controlled environment than to risk it being too big in the event of an accident.
We have made it easy for you by listing key features that should be present in the life jacket that you choose. FAQ's serve as a valuable source of answers to first-time buyers.
Our guide helps you to narrow down to the best available jackets in the market. Each of these jackets was carefully researched, and customer reviews were analyzed to give a better idea of what each has to offer.
It goes without saying that you should never leave toddlers without adult supervision, even with a life jacket. Now it’s time to go and enjoy the summer.