Best Infant Life Jackets

Best Baby Life Jackets

June 7, 2017

Best Baby Life Jackets

Best Baby Life Jackets
Start here with the three best life jackets for the under two set and a great option for toddlers, too.Best Baby Life Jackets

It’s summer and you can’t wait to take your baby for a dip in the pool or watch seafoam graze those chubby toddler cankles.

We get it. But water and young children can be a very dangerous mix. Though there’s no replacement for your watchful eye, having your little one also wear a life jacket is always a good idea. It’s also the law if you plan on taking your child on a boat.

Note: The U.S. Coast Guard doesn’t recommend taking small infants on a boat. That’s because they can’t guarantee that life jackets will properly fit children weighing 18 pounds or less. But the good news is that for onshore activities - where there’s no chance of getting stranded in the water for hours on end - there are plenty of baby life jackets the Coast Guard does approve.

Here’s a breakdown of how the Coast Guard classifies different types of life jackets:

Type I: This is the kind of flotation device an adult needs in open ocean, rough seas or remote water if they were to abandon ship and a rescue would be slow coming. This is the type of life jacket used on commercial vessels.

Type II: When you are close to shore, this is the life jacket that’s best to use. It’s good for calm waters and situations where, if needed, a rescue would be fast-coming.

Type III: When you need less bulk to engage in activities like waterskiing, fishing and kayaking, you can use this type of life jacket. It’s termed a “flotation aid” because it’s meant to be used by someone who can right themselves face up in the water. It’s only to be used in the same type of situations as those in the Type II category.

The Coast Guard doesn’t mess around when it comes to water safety. That’s why you want to look for their USCG seal of approval on any life jacket your little one wears. Other things to look for when purchasing and trying on a baby life jacket include:

  • A crotch strap: It helps the life vest stay in place.
  • Neck and head support: It adds extra buoyancy to keep your child’s face above water.
  • A grab loop: This is used to quickly pull a child out of the water.
  • Type II designation: This life jacket type keeps your child faceup while floating, even if he falls into the water facedown. It’s what the Coast Guard recommends for babies.
  • A snug fit: If the vest is loose, your baby can slip too far down into the water. To test the fit, pull your child up by the vest shoulders to ensure his chin and ears don’t slip out.

Like car seats, it’s best to always buy life jackets new. That way you know exactly what you’re getting and that no damage that would affect safety has occurred.

Also, try a new life jacket on your child right away. Look for a good fit and then do a trial run in a pool. You want to make sure the life jacket keeps your kiddo safely afloat, face up. And remember, your little one should always be within arm’s length of a responsible adult - no matter what.

Check out these top, Type II, USCG-approved picks for life jackets before your baby’s first water excursion.

Slim Fit

Not as bulky as the rest, this life jacket’s slender silhouette is an especially good fit for babies. A petite collar cradles the head and the v-neck keeps cushioning away from your child’s face.

For: Infants 8 - 30 lbs.

Budget Pick

The Stearns Infant Classic Life Vest offers a safe option at a really great price. Thick padding above and behind the neck keeps your tot’s head securely above water. Note: Some kiddos might have a hard time tolerating the front padding riding up and rubbing their cheeks.

For: Infants under 30 lbs.

Roomier Option

Also a v-neck, this life vest has a more generous cut around the neck opening. And the zipper doesn’t come up as high as the Stohlquist life jacket (good for double chins).

For: Infants under 30 lbs.

Big Kids Only

Unlike the others on this list, the Puddle Jumper Life Jacket has a USCG Type III designation. That means it’s for kids old enough to pull their heads out of the water if they fall in, about two to six years old. The unique shape of the jacket doesn’t rub on your child’s neck and allows her to move more freely - great for when she’s learning how to swim.

For: Kids 30 to 50 lbs.

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