The Best Infant Life Jacket For Your Precious Baby For All Types of Water Fun

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How To Choose The Best Baby Life Jacket For Your Child

We love to boat and swim in the hot hot hot Nebraska summer’s heat. But whether we are out fishing on a boat, cruising a lake for fun, or splashing in a pool, I know we need the best infant life vest possible for my babes.

You see, I was a little fish since my own very first summer. We had a pool in our backyard and as the youngest of 4, I just wanted to be with the “big kids.” So, by 9 months, I was wearing kids PDFs (personal flotation devices) and splashing around “on my own!”

Talk about how far cameras have come! Can you find me in the fuzzy pool?

Me swimming with my PFD as a baby

Fast forward 15 years and I became a lifeguard, which turned into a swim instructor job, which turned into a job where I TAUGHT swim instructors HOW to be swim teachers!
Needless to say, I know the importance of swim safety as well as getting those kiddos, even as young as newborns into the water to start building water safety skills.

Best Infant Life Jacket Quick Comparison

Mobile Users, scroll to the right to view whole table

Skip down to the individual review section below to read detailed reviews on each recommended infant life vest.

Infant Life Jacket
(Click On Link To Read More Reviews)
ImageWeight ConsiderationsUSCG ApprovedWhy It Stands Out
Salus Bijoux9-25 poundsNo*
*Read More About Why Down Below
One of the most highly praised baby life jackets! Incredibly safe and super comfy (for a life jacket!)

Read Reviews Here
Stolhquist Infant Life Vest8-30 poundsYesOne of the best USCG approved, parent tested, infant life jackets

See It on Amazon Here
Oceans 730 Pounds Or Less (needs to meet chest measurement of 16-20 inches)YesGreat for Toddlers

Check Current Prices Now
O'Niel's Superlite0-30 Pounds
https://amzn.to/2SRMv57
YesFantastic For Boating

Read More Reviews Here
Full ThrottleLess than 30 poundsYesGreat Price Point For a Safe Jacket

Compare Prices Now

We are going to break this massively informative article into a few sections so that it’s easy for you to navigate.

First, in order to know what the best baby life jacket is, you need to understand the lingo and different usages of each kind of PDF so that you can pick the best life jacket for infants based on what you intend to use it for.

Next, I want to jump into a complete guide to the best life jacket for baby as well as the best toddler life jackets.
This will include what you need to look for and consider as well as the top-rated infant life jackets and individual reviews, which baby life vests work for certain ages and weights and waaaay more!

Then, as the past elementary teacher and prior certified Water Safety Instructor in me, I really want to give you some reminders about water, swimming and even boating safety since we are talking about being in the water with such little ones.

Best Baby Life Jacket Infant Life Jacket Safety

^ Pin This So You Can Continue To Read Later ^

 

So, feel free to jump around to the info you need most and as always, let me know what questions you have! Let’s Go!

Note: This Guide Is Mainly About Choosing the Best Infant Life Jacket.  However, I know that many of you are also looking for just great flotation devices.  If you are looking for more of a Personal Flotation Device like water wings or puddle jumpers, there is more on this below

Jump Directly Down To the PFD Flotation Aid Section

 

Flotation Devices For Infants

First and foremost, let’s define “infants.”

Typically, there are:

  • Newborns: 0-2 months old
  • Infants: 2 months- 1 year (sometimes up to 2 years)

Therefore, everything in this guide is going to be specifically for babies 2 months to about 2 years.  Although, I do have suggestions for newborns and toddlers if your tyke is in those ranges.

Ok, now let’s chat about some of the lingo you might see when reading reviews for the best infant life vest.

What Is the Difference Between PFDs,a Life Jacket, and a Life Vest?

Many people use the above terms interchangeably, but it’s actually really important to know the difference between a life jack and a PFD, or a life vest when choosing an infant life jacket.

There are Three kinds of Personal Flotation Devices according to the US Coast Guard:

  1. Personal Flotation Device PFD: US Coast Guard Approved Device
  2. Throwable PFD: A device that can be thrown to a struggling person
  3. Wearable PFD: A PFD that you wear or that is attached to the body

Basically, all life jackets are a form of a Personal Flotation Device, but not all PFDs are a life jacket. However, a life jacket, a PFD, and a life vest are all considered a life preserver! Confused yet???

Let’s work our way through them.

A Life Preserver

baby pfd baby personal flotation device

Today, we are talking specifically about infant life preservers.  A life preserver is simply a device to help someone float in water using some type of buoyancy.
The key word here is that it can help the baby FLOAT, not necessarily keep them SAFE. A child can be face down but still be floating.  We obviously want more than that for our babies in the water!

PFDs

This is considered a PFD or even a Life Vest (but is NOT considered a Life Jacket)

A Personal Flotation Device (PFD) is also used for buoyancy, therefore the terms PFD and life preserver are easier to use interchangeably and more correctly.

However, these are still not guaranteed to keep a child’s face out of the water and will not meet as strict of guidelines as a life jacket.
An infant PFD (such as this infant life vest or this life jacket suit)is ok with extremely close guidance but should NEVER be relied on to keep your child completely safe in the water by themselves.

Baby swim vests/ life vests and things like puddle jumpers and arm floaties typically fall into the PFD category because they are worn but don’t necessarily meet ALL of the USCG Approved Rules, for example, there may be no collar on an infant swim vest (more on the importance of these next).

  • A Baby PFD may not have a large collar
  • Are not as bulky as a life jacket
  • There is no head support
  • They are less buoyant

Infant PFD

 

Looking for the best baby float? The next sections are specifically on life jackets.

If you are looking for something more like an infant puddle jumper or baby water wings,

Click Here To Go To Our PFD Section

Life Jackets

A Life Jacket, however, is made specifically for not only keeping one afloat but also to keep the user’s face out of the water in the case of an emergency.

In fact, when you read reviews and when considering what infant life jacket to buy, remember that if you are wanting your little one to do much more than just float on his or her back, a full blown infant life jacket may actually not be your best bet.

That’s because the SOLE purpose of a true life jacket is to make sure that your baby’s face stays out of the water.

If you are wanting more of a recreational flotation device, don’t worry though, as I’ve included my top suggestions for thos as well below.

Whether you are looking for an infant life jacket or an adult one, they all have very specific safety guidelines.

A life jacket MUST have ALL the following attributes in order to be considered an actual USCG approved life jacket:

  • In Canada, a life jacket MUST come in the colors of red, yellow, or orange life jackets. (PFDs do not have required colors). If you see a vest or jacket that is not in those cautionary colors, then it is a PFD, but not a true life jacket.
    – In the US, this is not the case, but if you are choosing a life jacket, not just a PFD, I highly encourage you to still choose these safety colors.
  • Must have a neck collar. These collars force the wearer to turn face up in the event of an emergency or if the wearer is suddenly face down.  The way the life jacket is designed, one can not remain face down due to the construction of the collar.
  • Head is supported. This is going to be in the form of the collar.

IMPORTANT: If you plan on boating, it is the LAW that you have a USCG approved life jacket, not just a PFD.  If you do not have the proper gear, you risk getting cited, ticketed and fined.

Our recommendation for the best toddler life jacket for boating and/or an infant life jacket coast guard approved:

Stohlquist Infant Life Jacket
Click here to read the Amazon reviews

 

Why Is Getting A Baby Life Jacket So Important?

So you may be wondering why I’m making such a big deal about the usage of words. Here is why:

Life jackets (ESPECIALLY, an infant-toddler life jacket) is made specifically for people who do not know how to swim.

I don’t care how soon you got your babe in the water and how great they can swim.  Most are not developmentally old enough to know what to do in the event of an accident or emergency. Therefore a life jacket is going to be essential.
Jump down to the section on when it’s ok to use which PFD, Jacket, and Vest, as I do truly believe there are appropriate times for all!

This video is simultaneously terrifying and inspiring all at the same time!  But even with carefully trained infants, accidents can happen!

 

Beware: Some advertisers call all their life vests and PFDs “Life Jackets.”  Use the above guidelines to help you distinguish which ones are legit.

With that being said, there are some REALLY good life vests that are not US Coast Guard Certified that should still be considered (more on this in the review section below) if you are wanting safety, but are not going to be out in a boat.

Type I, II, III Life Jackets

So now that we know that there are specific life jackets, it gets a bit more technical. This site goes into really easy to understand detail, including weight requirements on the different categories of life jackets, but here is a very quick low down on the differences and reasonings behind them.

Type 1 Life Jacket: Offshore Life Jackets

boating life jacket for infant

 

(Type 1 Life Jackets= on open water, away from the shore, or for non-swimmers in any water location)
A Type 1 PFD Life Jacket can be used in all types of water and will provide the most safety for people (aka our little minions) that don’t know how to swim (well).  They are most used for

  • Babies and infants
  • Open water,
  • Away from the shore usage, or for
  • Non-swimmers in any water location/ Circumstance

Type 2 Life Jackets: Nearshore Life Jackets

A “Life Jacket 2” type is less bulky than type 1 and therefore are also slightly less reliable to turn an unconscious person face up. You’ll often see a type 2 life jacket as the spares and extras on boats.

You are going to find that most infant life jackets are going to be Type 2.

 

Type 3: Flotation Aids

These are going to be more of the PFDs mentioned above. These are anything that can help a swimmer stay afloat, such as puddle jumpers, wing floaties, or a life vest for kids.

Click here to jump down to our section just for the best infant flotation devices (that are not life jackets)

What To Look For When Buying The Best Life Jacket For Babies

Weight

This is the very first consideration because it is absolutely the = most important factor in choosing the right size of life jacket for a baby.  Forget age and anything else.  Instead, the best life jacket for a baby is actually going to be based on your infant’s weight.

If the jacket doesn’t fit properly to the weight of your baby, then there is no point in wearing the life preserver at all.

You absolutely need to be sure that you get the right one based off of your child’s weight….not age.

There are three main categories for children’s life jackets:

  1. Infant Life Jacket: 8-30 pounds
  2. Child Life Jacket: 30-50 pounds
  3. Youth Life Jackets/ PFDs: 50-90 pounds

These weights will be shown inside the life vests as well.

Important: As a parent, I’m totally guilty of getting my boys’ clothes that are bigger than what they wear now, so that they can grow into them (I mean, c’mon….kids seriously grow so fast!!!)
HOWEVER, you absolutely can’t do this with a life jacket! DO NOT buy a bigger jacket with the intent that they will be able to use it for longer. By doing this, you completely negate the safety of the vest.

Infant PFD Coast Guard Approved

When finding the best life jacket for your baby, one thing to strongly consider is if it is coast guard approved.

On the inside of the jacket, look for the picture or wording stating that it is, in fact, Coast Guard Approved. And remember, there are different levels (see above), so it should also state what conditions that particular flotation device is approved for.

HOWEVER!  Did You Know:

There is actually currently no testing standard to certify PFDs for children under 20 pounds!

So, what are safety, cautious parents to do?  More on what newborn life jacket to choose below.

Collar

infant life jacket coast guard approved

As mentioned before, if you have your infant in a life vest, it should have a collar.

In fact, think about the head of a baby. Yup, they are often disproportionate to the rest of their bodies! A baby’s head is typically very large in relation to their body.

Therefore, the best life jacket for infants and newborns are going to be ones that have very large collars to help support those big ‘ol (adorable) noggins!

Some of these look like full blown collars, which are personally the ones I recommend most.

Others, are more of a life vest with a head hole.

Either way, these are going to keep their heads above the water.

Material/ Construction

UV Reflective Shell: Find a baby life jacket that is UV reflective so that it lasts longer. Normal Nylon or Polyester jackets may fade over time and therefore deteriorate the shell more quickly.

Padding: Try to find a baby float vest that has more padding in the front than in the back. You want the buoyancy to be on their chests, which will keep their faces out of the water.

Foam Inside: While inflatable PFDs have their time and place, if you are wanting a true life jacket for infants, it is best to choose a foam life jacket. There is less room for errors and accidents (aka leakage and punctures). The special foam inside life vests are made to not absorb the water and instead create the most buoyant device.

However, if you are going to be constantly near your infant, something like these baby “life jacket” swimsuits offer great sun protection as well as some buoyancy 

Seams: We all know that babies are particular about feeling uncomfortable! Make sure that the life jacket you get doesn’t have rough seems that will scratch and irritate their delicate baby skin.

Fasteners: Be sure that all fasteners have all prongs and that when snapped together, they are sturdy and do not pull apart.

Zippers: You want to make sure that the zippers are strong as well as won’t slide accidentally

Crotch Strap: When buying a life jacket for babies, make sure there is a crotch strap. This helps to ensure that the life jacket does not

  • Slide up and over the baby’s head
  • Slip up and cover the baby’s airway

Just because it looks like it won’t ride up when you try it on, doesn’t mean that it won’t once in the water, so a crotch strap is a must!

Grab Strap: Not all life jackets have these, but they are a great thing to look for when buying one and is personally a must for me. Basically, it is a quick mechanism for you to easily grab your baby in the event of an emergency.

Considerations For the Best Infant Life Vest

Age

Unfortunately, many people think that age should be a deciding factor in deciding the best infant PFD.  While age is something to keep in mind, weight is actually the most important deciding factor.  However, if you’ve already determined your child’s weight, then here are a few other suggestions based on age.

Newborn Life Jacket

If you are specifically looking for a newborn life vest, I’ve got some bad news for you.  According to the US Coast Guard, no life jackets (USCG Approved) are suitable for babies under 18 pounds, as they may not properly fit your precious little one.

In fact, they argue that babies should not be out in boats at all for safety reasons.

But we all know that that isn’t always practical.

Still follow along with the rest of the advice here in this post.  And then, most importantly, follow the “Testing it Out” section below at home before ever going out to the water. Every baby is different and the same will be true to how a life jacket will fit them.

Since there are actually no official Coast Guard Approved newborn life jackets, I recommend the Salus Bijoux for newborns.  Once your baby meets the standard weight minimums (around 8 pounds, give or take) and if you are going to be on a boat, you will need one that is officially USCG approved.

This one is also my top pick for any other kind of water safety if not in a boat (since that does not require USCG approval).

Our top pick is the Salus Bijoux Baby Vest For Newborns

Click Here To Read Why Parents LOVE the Salus Baby Life Jacket

6 Month Old Life Jacket to Life Jacket For 1 Year Old

If your baby is a little older, I actually still recommend the Bijoux Baby Life Jacket for anything other than boating.  However, if you are boating, you’ll need a USCG Approved Jacket (sorry for being a broken record here!)

So, whether your babe is 6 months old or you need an infant life jacket for a one year old, I would suggest the Salus Bijoux or the Stohlquist

Click Here to Read about This Top Rated US Coast Guard Approved Infant Life Vest

 

Color

If you are wanting the safest life jackets, you need one that is bright in color.  Think about this.  If you were out in any open water, and there is an emergency situation, you are going to want to spot your infant IMMEDIATELY!

Even colors such as blue, and especially light colors can be incredibly hard to see.  Choose the following colors for the best safety:

  • Orange
  • Red
  • Yellow

What Kind Of Water/ Situations Are You Swimming In?

What is going to be your main use of the life jacket?

Are you just swimming in the backyard or hotel pool? Will you be out boating?  Are you going in the ocean?

Baby Life Jacket For Boating: It is actually required by law that if you are in a boat, that you have a coast guard approved infant life jacket, not floaties and not a puddle jumper…. A US Coast Guard Approved Jacket

My Top Recommendation For A Baby Boating Life Jacket: Stolhquist Infant Life Jacket

Swimming In a Pool: If you are going to be in a pool, then you don’t need as strict of guidelines and you can choose the PFD best for you and your infant based on the other considerations.

My Top Recommendation for The best infant life jacket for pool: Salus Bijoux 

Parent Supervision

If you are going to be in or near water that is calm and you are going to be within arms reach IN the water with your infant, you don’t NEED a life jacket. Maybe you opt for some floaties instead.

However, remember, a baby life preserver is NOT a replacement for you. You need to be vigilant and within arms reach at all times.

Child’s Swim Ability

Most babies can’t swim at all.  And even if yours “can” it’s still good to have a different flotation device for different purposes.

Whistle

Obviously, a newborn isn’t going to know how to blow a whistle. However, even a 1-year-old can learn how to.

Some baby swim vests will have a whistle already attached. If not, you can always consider attaching one yourself (I love this one, that has a breakaway lanyard for safety).
Important: Instruct your child that the whistle of for EMERGENCY use only! Do some practice scenarios at home to teach him/her when appropriate times to use the whistle are.

State Laws

All states have different laws on child and infant safety vests. Be sure you know what your state’s laws are. For example, here in Nebraska (as well as most other US States),

  • “Children under age 13 and anybody on a personal watercraft are required by law to wear a United States Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device…”

Best Infant Life Jacket Reviews

The following life jackets all have the features that I recommend looking for in a life vest.

  • Grab Strap
  • Safe for infant use
  • Crotch Strap
  • Has a collar

Salus Bijoux Baby Life Jacket Review

Pros:

  • Great life jackets for infants under 20lbs: Newborns can comfortably wear it (8-25 pounds).  This is probably one of the smallest infant life jackets that you’ll find.
  • Infants and babies that do not like the fit and comfort of other life jackets seem to be perfectly content in this
  • Extra safety designs, such as no padding on the back force a baby to turn face up in the event of an emergency
  • Due to only mesh back, babies can sleep comfortably on their backs while still in the life jacket
  • Great freedom of movement, not too bulky
  • Flexible enough that you can even nurse in it

Cons:

  • Sadly, this is not USCG approved.  Not because it isn’t quality, but because the USCG requires a weight limit of 30 pounds.  Since this only goes up to 25 pounds, it can’t be officially approved
  • The cost is one of the most expensive options for infant life jackets
  • Hard to adjust straps with just one adult

Stolhquist Infant Life Jacket Review

Pros:

  • Great baby life jacket under 30 lbs (Fits infants 8-30 pounds)
  • Is USCG Approved
  • Can work great multiple years in a row, depending on size of baby
  • Keeps baby’s face upright and out of water for most babies
  • Comfortable, even when worn for long periods of time

Cons:

  • A little bulky, but most quality life jackets will be
  • Always do a float test (see above!) as soon as you receive it to ensure that YOUR individual baby floats properly.

Check Out The Adorable Pictures Of Babies Using The Stohlquist Life Jacket Here

O’Neil Infant Superlite Infant Life Vest Review

Pros:

  • Very buoyant (great for boating!)
  • Good infant life jacket under 30 lbs (probably not ideal for newborns though)
  • Quality materials
  • USCG Approved Type II

Cons:

  • Quite stiff and hard to move around in
  • Bulkier than the other competitors 

Click Here To Read More About the O Neill Life Jacket

Full Throttle Infant Vest Review

Pros:

  • Great price point
  • Crotch strap is more like a “saddle” making it much more comfortable
  • Fantastic head support
  • Adjustable neck

Cons:

  • Be sure to do a water test upon receiving to make sure it’s good for you individual baby
  • Because the crotch strap is so wide, it can gather a lot of water, making it hard to wring out

Read More Reviews on the Full Throttle Life Jacket Here

Stearns Puddle Jumper Infant Life Vest

Pros:

  • Zippered back helps with putting on and taking off
  • More reports than other life vests of it not flipping a child onto his/her back
  • The shell and material a bit softer than other life jackets

Cons:

  • Seems to be better for children over 1
  • Not in the preferred safety colors
  • More reports than other life vests of it not flipping a child onto his/her back

Read More About The Stearns Infant Life Jacket

 

How Should A Life Jacket Fit A Child

Phew….now that you are over the massive info overload on what baby safety vest to buy, now it’s time to put it to use!
Now that you’ve got the baby swim jacket in your hands, it’s time to do a few tests before hopping in the water.

  1. The baby swim jacket needs to be tight and snug
  2. Lift the life jacket by the shoulders with the baby inside. If they kiddo’s chin and ears slide through, it is too big.
  3. If you have an older infant/ toddler, have them lift their arms straight up in the air. If the shoulders hit their ears, then tighten the straps and retry. If they still touch the ears, then that infant life vest is too big.
  4. Chances are, it is going to be too big rather than too small. However, make sure that they can still take good, deep breaths in the jacket to make sure it isn’t TOO tight.

Expert Tip: Your wee little one (ok, even a toddler)is probably NOT going to love that PFD! Put it on at home and get them used to it:

  • Start with a few minutes a day and increase the time
  • If you’ve got an older infant/ toddler, do some creative play time. Get a cardboard box and pretend you are fishing in a boat. Make it fun and a game!

Water Test

Alright! Now you’ve done your research, you’ve bought your adorable baby a life vest, you’ve checked to make sure it’s the proper fit. Time to dive in, right!?

Wrong.

Now it’s time to do a water float test.

No matter your child’s age, whether you are taking your newborn or toddler, always do a float test first.

If you don’t have access to a pool or shallow water, just do a Tub Test in your bathroom!

In a Life Jacket:

Put your kiddo in the water, as you stand directly next to them. Place them on their belly. The life jacket should immediately flip them over to their back.
Tip: If you have a newborn life jacket, you may not feel comfortable doing the belly test. Instead, place them on their backs gently and remove your hands. You are looking to make sure that

  • The jacket does not cover any airway
  • They are able to stay completely afloat with their mouth and head above the water (they do not flip to their backs)
  • The baby’s chin should not be submerged
  • The head collar is completely supporting their neck and head above the water

Once you’ve done all these things, you can, with confidence, know that your baby is wearing the safest possible safety vest for them!

Now it’s time for the fun!  Get Swimmin’!

Best Infant Flotation Aids

Now that we’ve beaten the horse to death about life jackets vs flotation devices, you might have realized that what you wanted was more of a personal flotation device and not an infant life jacket.

So, the following section is our top picks for the most popular types of swim aids for infants

 

Stearns Puddle Jumper Baby

Puddle jumpers have become all the craze around the watering holes.  Parents love these over the traditional water wings because it has the added chest vest as well, giving extra buoyancy.

Great For: Older infants and fantastic for toddlers and pool use

Click Here To Read More About The Stearns Puddle Jumper Baby

 

Arm Float Disks

These are an amazing adaption of the traditional arm wings that we all grew up with.  I love them because they can’t be punctures, like arm floaties.  But I love them even more because each disk is removable!  So, as your kiddo learns to swim and gains confidence, you can slowly remove disk by disk letting them gain even more confidence on their own.

Great For: Babies with immediate adult supervision within arms reach, toddlers and kiddos learning to swim.

Click Here To See How the “Grow With Me” Arm Floaties Baby Floats Work

Newborn Flotation Device

If you are lounging around and are going to be right next to your newborn at all times, I recommend something like this that they can comfortably lay in, since we all know newborns love to snooze!  I love it because as they grow into infants, you can also sit them upright so they can float and splash around with you.

Great For: Newborns next to an adult in the pool or lake.
Read More Reviews On This Beloved Spring Float 

Maintenance And Caring For Your Infant Life Vest and Flotation Devices

Rinse The Jackets Daily

After using a life jacket, before putting it away for the day (yes, even if you will be pulling it out tomorrow), do a quick rinse. Chlorine and salt water especially can be corrosive to the materials in a life vest.

Hose it off real quick or give a few dunks in a tub.

Never Store A Wet Jacket

I know that mistakes happen. After a long, tiring day in the water, you may forget about the life jacket in the boat storage or wadded up in the corner of a yard.

However, try to make sure that you never store a life jacket wet. By doing so, it leaves the jacket subject to

  • Mold: This not only deteriorates the integrity of the jacket but you do NOT want mold next to your baby’s face!
  • Breaking The Foam Down: By leaving it wet and improperly stored, it can break down the foam, making it less buoyant.

Tip: SOME life jackets can actually be dried in a dryer, but always check the jacket’s label. Otherwise, let it air dry outside, but not in the direct sunlight, as UV rays can break down the material as well.

Give It a Once Over

After each use, just do a quick check that everything on the infant flotation device is as it should be:
Straps: All the straps are still strong and sturdy and that there is no fraying. Once you see this, you’ll need a new one.
Webbing: All webbing is still intact
Material: No rips or tears anywhere
Clips and Fasteners: Make sure any buckles still clip properly

Give It a Wash

It’s not necessary to fully wash a life jacket after every use, but it’s not a bad idea to give it one good wash before putting it away for the season.

  1. Put the jacket in a tub of water with very mild detergent (never use bleach or stain removers)
  2. Give it a few good swishes
  3. Rinse. Rinse. Rinse. (And then rinse some more). You do not want any soap left behind.
  4. Let air dry

Do Annual Float Tests

Once a year, do a float test. If the life jacket no longer has buoyancy, it’s time for a new one.

Proper Storage

When you are not using your infant life jacket or it is off-season, store the life vests in:

  • A cool, dry location
  • Out of direct sunlight
  • Properly ventilated area
  • Preferably hanging
  • Never folded up, compressed, or with anything pressed against them (compression of the foam can deteriorate the foam as well)

Best Life Jacket For Toddlers

If you’ve got a little tot, ALL the above information is pretty much the exact same. You can maybe get away with a smaller collar, but everything else should be taken into consideration if you are looking for the safest life jackets for toddlers.

My Top Recommendation For the Best Toddler Life Jacket: Stohlquist Toddler Life Vest

Click Here To Read Why The Stohlquist Is a Top Parent Pick

My Top Water Safety Tips

After over 10 years of being a Red Cross Water Safety Instructor, I am a HUGE believer in being proactive about your child’s safety. Here are my top X water safety tips, regardless of your child’s age.

1) Start Early!!

Your baby was in water for 9 months before being born! There is no such thing as too young to start them in the water swimming!
Granted, newborns and young infants are more susceptible to hypothermia, so keeping them in the water for long periods of time is not advisable.
Expert Tip: I loved bringing Lil B into the water with me. And now that I have Lil B AND Mr. J, I need Mr. J secure and snug with me as I chase his big brother around. I LOVE having a water sling to carry him and babywear in the shallow waters!

babywearing in the water
Babywearing with Lil B at 3 Months in the Water

2) Take Infant Swim Lessons

Almost all locations that offer swim lessons have a Parent/ Tot swim class. This is a fantastic way to teach both YOU as a parent and your babe water safety as well as getting them used to being in the water.

3) Allow Your Baby To Swim (in your arms) Without A PFD

Kids should have exposure to both kinds of water play so they can gain confidence and skills even without a flotation device.  We NEVER used PFDs in swim lessons because the only way to gain true water skills is to practice them.

4) NEVER Rely On An Infant, Or Child PFD, or Leave Children Unattended

Me Swimming With Lil B at 3 Months

In fact, it was an Omaha Parks and Rec rule that no PFDs were allowed in the city pools.  Too many parents relied on them as a personal babysitter.

These are NOT a replacement for YOU. You should always be within reach of your child when they are in a life vest!

5) Learn CPR

I am a huge believer that ALL parents should know CPR. But, if you are going to have your kids around water, it is even more important.

6) Know Boating Safety

Never strap a baby down. They should always be in an adult’s lap when in a boat.

Also, just because you have a newborn life jacket, doesn’t mean that it is technically safe to be in open water with your baby. Make sure you have done the safety checks with your infant before heading out.

7) Do Water Safety Lessons at Home

At the Red Cross, we taught Whale’s Tales. As an adult, you are going to find these videos super corny, but they are great for kids, even as young as toddlers! The videos are only a few minutes each and I highly recommend watching them each summer to review water safety rules with your kids.

Here is one specifically about wearing a life jacket, but more for older kids (or adults who don’t think they are necissary in certain situations)

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