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Going to water parks, lakes, and other bodies of water for a bit of fun in the sun is a classic family pastime. However, it’s not only the rays you need to keep kids and babies safe from!

Whether shallow, deep, tumultuous, or still, any body of water poses a safety risk. And, water activities like boating and swimming are amongst the most common and risky activities. 

You see, drowning is a reality for babies, kids, teens, and adults alike – even those who can swim! That’s why following water safety and wearing the best infant life jacket is so important! 

I honestly can’t stress it enough! Of course, it’s also important to choose the safest jacket possible. Luckily, I’ve assembled all my best infant life jacket picks for you in this post!

At A Glance: Our Top Nine Infant Life Jacket Picks for 2021 :

What is the Best Infant Life Jacket?

The best type of infant life jacket is undoubtedly a US Coast-Guard-approved one. If you’re planning on doing any water sports outside of swimming in the pool, this your safest bet.

USCG-approved life jackets are recommended for a variety of moderate to risky water activities.

Of course, you could just get a standard life vest or floaties for basic swimming in the pool. 

It’s up to you. Be sure to choose a suitable jacket for your baby in terms of size and the type of activity, though!

Just remember:

  • You should never leave a child unattended in a life jacket, especially Type II and III jackets.
  • Type II and III jackets are intended for use in quick-rescue situations.
  • You need to teach your infant (as best you can) how to float correctly in a life jacket.
  • You must follow the manufacturer’s instructions, including weight limitations exactly.
  • Make sure to understand what type of life jacket you need – Type I, II, or III
  • Learn about what activities each type of life jacket is suitable for.
  • Type I jackets are the safest and most buoyant, but manufacturers don’t generally make this type of jacket for infants.
  • Type II jackets are for use on still, inland waters, not rough, choppy waters, or offshore.
  • Type II jackets won’t always turn an unconscious baby upright in the water.
  • Type III life jackets don’t generally turn unconscious babies face-up.
  • Babies cannot generally float upright in most life jackets by themselves.
  • Most life jackets are uncomfortable for kids but a necessity for boating or swimming in open water like lakes, oceans, and rivers.
  • Babies under 18 lbs, thus unable to wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD), should ideally not travel on a fast-moving boat.
  • All children under 13 years of age need to wear a life jacket on a vessel underway.

1. Stearns Infant Classic Series Vest

Stearns Infant Classic Series VestStearns Infant Classic Series Vest

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Features

  • USCG-approved
  • Type II personal flotation device
  • Available in blue and red
  • Fits infants under 30 lbs with a 16″-20″ chest
  • Rescue handle

Things We Love!

This affordable life jacket is one of the most popular and best infant life jackets out there. In fact, it’s already scored plenty of brownie points from hundreds of happy customers.

It comes in two bright, extremely visible shades – red and blue. It’s also Coast Guard-approved and has a grab handle for easy rescue and pulling during swimming.

The crotch strap is adjustable, so it’s very easy to adjust it to fit your baby. Overall, most customers were more than satisfied with its quality, fit, and safety features.

Pros:

  • Affordable, safe, and highly-rated option.
  • It has a grab handle for quick and easy rescue.
  • Made of buoyant PE floating foam.

Cons:

  • Not ideal or comfortable for swimming.
  • May have a tendency to flip baby forward-facing into the water.

Overall Thoughts

Overall, this USCG-approved life jacket is great value for the price. If you’re simply looking for an affordable jacket for a once-off trip, then this is an excellent option.

However, if you’re looking for a life jacket for regular trips out, I would suggest investing in another safer option. This one isn’t as comfy and doesn’t perform as well as some others.

2. Airhead Treasure Life Vest

Airhead Treasure Life VestAirhead Treasure Life Vest

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Features

  • USCG-approved
  • Type II personal flotation device
  • Available in pink and blue underwater themes
  • Fits infants from 15-30 lbs
  • Rescue handle

Things We Love!

This life jacket is one of the few that actually appeals to kids with its cute animal print. It comes in two adorable, kid-friendly, under-the-sea designs.

Some parents even reported that their kids looked forward to wearing theirs, thanks to the design! There is a blue treasure reef option for boys and a pink fish reef option for girls.

Apart from its look, it also comes with all the features you need. It has a grab handle, is US Coast Guard-approved, and is made from good quality denier material.

In fact, this life jacket is flame retardant, stain-resistant, and water-resistant. Many parents also reported that it was very effective at turning baby face-up.

Pros:

  • Made from soft, UV, flame, water, and stain-resistant 200-denier fabric.
  • It has a grab handle for easy rescue.
  • It features a cute underwater theme.
  • Very effective at turning baby on their back when floating in the water.

Cons:

  • Not good for swimming in as it will turn baby on their back.
  • Closed sides don’t allow this jacket to adjust to baby’s size well.

Overall Thoughts

If you’re looking for one of the best infant life jackets in terms of safety, this is an excellent choice. The fact that it’s so effective at turning baby face-up makes it safer than most Type II’s.

However, this feature also makes it a more difficult life jacket to swim in. As such, if you’re looking for something for them to wear, specifically while swimming, it’s not the best choice.

3. Stohlquist Life Vest for Infants

Stohlquist Life Vest for InfantsStohlquist Life Vest for Infants

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Features

  • USCG-approved
  • Available in blue, red, and yellow, as well as other patterned designs
  • Type II personal flotation device
  • Fits infants from 8-30 lbs
  • Grab handle

Things We Love!

Safety features are essential in a life jacket. But, one of the most overlooked is visibility. Brightly-colored jackets like this one are very easy to spot in emergencies.

This feature makes them ideal for use on boats where a baby overboard is one of your biggest dangers. Even in relatively calm waters, babies can quickly float far away from your boat.

This is one of the best infant life jackets, as well as being one of the most visible. Apart from this bonus, it’s also made of high-quality waterproof and flame-retardant denier fabric.

The quick-release buckle is another added plus on top of the grab handle. I love the comfy extra head pillow that makes it just that little more enjoyable to wear than the average baby life jacket.

Pros:

  • It has a quick-release buckle.
  • It comes in three visible, eye-catching shades.
  • Made from 200 denier oxford fabric, which is both flame retardant and waterproof.
  • A double pillow makes it comfortable and supportive.

Cons:

  • May run a little big for smaller infants.

Overall Thoughts

This is one of the better life jacket choices for bigger babies, be they older or larger. If yours is, then this is a quality and safe option.

However, if your infant is on the younger or smaller side, you might want to consider another jacket. Overall, though, this is an excellent, comfy jacket for the average infant.

4. Connelly Babysafe Nylon Vest

Connelly Babysafe Nylon VestConnelly Babysafe Nylon Vest

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Features

  • USCG-approved
  • Type II personal flotation device
  • Available in pink and blue
  • Fits infants under 30 lbs
  • Quick-release buckles

Things We Love!

This Connelly vest has a unique design and shape that fits young and small babies really well. Apart from this, its shape also makes it very comfy and safe to wear in the water.

Many parents reported that this life jacket was quite effective at turning baby face-up. So, it’s definitely one of the safer jackets around, especially if there’s a chance you may get split up.

Of course, we don’t ever want to think about this situation. But, as many Type II jackets aren’t 100% effective at turning unconscious or unaware babies upright, this is vital to consider.

As such, I and many parents who bought it felt that it was a safe option.

Pros:

  • Its unique shape helps baby to turn and float face-up in the water more effectively than many other jackets.
  • A good choice for smaller infants; plus, it looks extra cute on them!
  • A comfortable choice for swimming in.

Cons:

  • The crotch area isn’t adjustable, so the jacket may ride up.
  • Not the comfiest for sitting or napping in.
  • It doesn’t have a grab handle.

Overall Thoughts

I think this is definitely one of the best infant life jackets for very young infants. Apart from its tendency to push them face-up, it’s also quite comfy to swim in.

However, the crotch area is not adjustable. So, you might need to size up sooner than some other more adjustable life jackets. If you’re ok with this, it’s definitely an excellent choice.

5. O’Neill Wake Waterski Infant Vest

O'Neill Wake Waterski Infant VestO'Neill Wake Waterski Infant Vest

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Features

  • USCG-approved
  • Type II personal flotation device
  • Available in berry pink and lime green
  • Fits infants up to 30 lbs
  • Grab handle

Things We Love!

This waterski-style life jacket is suited to all sorts of water activities. I love its double buckles, which make it that much more difficult for baby to unbuckle themselves.

Apart from this safety feature, it also has a grab handle, plenty of foam padding, and comes in two eye-catching shades. The hot neon pink and lime green designs are not hard to spot.

This is definitely a well-thought-out, good quality product – which is to be expected from the O’Neill brand. It’s a good investment for your baby if you’re looking for a quality, safe option.

Its adjustable straps also make sure that it will last a little longer than some less adjustable options. So, you don’t have to worry about them growing out of it too fast, either.

Pros:

  • It has a grab handle for quick rescues.
  • The adjustable straps fit babies as they grow.
  • Double buckles and zippers deter smart tots from taking the jacket off themselves.

Cons:

  • Some buyers reported this jacket was too small for infants from 20 lbs to 30 lbs.
  • May run a little large for small infants, too.

Overall Thoughts

I think this is one of the best infant life jackets in terms of quality. It does come at a higher price than many other jackets, but it’s a quality option.

Sometimes, I think it’s worth it to invest the extra cash for safety and quality. It may not be the comfiest jacket for bigger or smaller infants, but it’s excellent for an average-sized baby.

6. STEARNS Puddle Jumper Infant Hydroprene Life Jacket

STEARNS Puddle Jumper Infant Hydroprene Life JacketSTEARNS Puddle Jumper Infant Hydroprene Life Jacket

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Features

  • USCG-approved
  • Type II personal flotation device
  • Available in pink, blue, as well as pink and blue fish print
  • Fits infants up to 30 lbs
  • Hydroprene shell

Things We Love!

This cute, unique life jacket is another of the best infant life jackets around. I love its closed-front design because it makes it hard for babies to wiggle or unbuckle their way out.

Unless, of course, they are very dextrous and manage to unbuckle the hidden front buckle, that is! Another plus of this jacket is the type of fabric it’s made of.

Hydroprene is the soft material that wetsuits are often made from. As such, it’s a great option for sensitive-skinned babies who don’t gel with scratchy, synthetic fabrics.

Unlike many other jackets, it also features two crotch straps for optimal security and fit. No, I doubt any baby would accidentally be able to remove this jacket without adult assistance.

Pros:

  • Comfortable shape for swimming.
  • Made from soft-on-the-skin Hydroprene fabric.
  • Adjustable straps offer the optimal fit all the way up to 30 lbs.
  • The closed-front design deters baby from unbuckling the vest themselves.

Cons:

  • The flotation pillows around the neck are quite bulky and can make it uncomfortable to wear.

Overall Thoughts

If you’re looking for a soft and comfy yet secure and snug-fitting life jacket, then this is one to consider. Many parents reported this was great for swimming in, too.

So, if you’re looking for the best Type II jacket for this purpose, this is an excellent option. However, some said that the jacket was much less comfortable to wear out of the water.

So, if you’re planning a long-winded boating trip, you might want to consider another jacket.

7. Airhead Infant’s General Purpose Life Vest

Airhead Infant’s General Purpose Life VestAirhead Infant’s General Purpose Life Vest

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Features

  • USCG-approved
  • Type II personal flotation device
  • Available in red/yellow and blue/yellow designs
  • Fits infants up to 30 lbs
  • Grab handle

Things We Love!

This is another of the best infant life jackets in terms of visibility. It comes in two extremely bright color combos that aren’t hard to spot!

Apart from this safety feature, it also has three buckles! This makes it ultra-secure and one of the harder jackets for prying fingers to get out of.

Many parents felt that it also fit quite well, whether it be younger, smaller, bigger, or older babies. So, it should fit well throughout the time you use it, too.

Despite its low price, many buyers also thought it was great quality, as well! In fact, its finishes, quality, and fit surprised some very much for this price!

Pros:

  • It’s hard not to spot this brightly-colored life jacket.
  • It fits most babies well and comfortably while still being safe and buoyant.
  • Good quality jacket.
  • It has three front buckles for optimal security.
  • Very good value for money.

Cons:

  • It may not be the comfiest design for small babies to wear.

Overall Thoughts

If you have a particularly dextrous child, and you’re worried they’ll wrangle their way out, this is a good choice. The three buckles pose a significant challenge to even the most cunning babies!

Apart from this, I think it’s also a great bargain for the price. Yet, unlike many cheaper jackets, it’s also still good value for money due to its superior quality and fit.

8. CWB Connelly Infant Nylon Vest

CWB Connelly Infant Nylon VestCWB Connelly Infant Nylon Vest

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Features

  • USCG-approved
  • Type II personal flotation device
  • Available in a purple/blue patterned design
  • Fits infants up to 30 lbs
  • Grab handle

Things We Love!

This stylish blue and purple printed vest is one of the best infant life jackets for girls. We know how difficult it can be to get young ones to wear uncomfy attire, especially poofy life jackets!

So, its cute design is definitely a plus – hopefully, it will encourage baby to wear it! Many customers reported that it was also a comfy life jacket to wear once on.

You see, the two-part foam head pillow offers a bit more comfort and support in and out of the water. Adjustable belt and buckle loops also make sure that the jacket fits as they grow. 

Additionally, it includes all the safety features required of a Type II jacket. Plus, the grab handle offers a bit of extra security in case you need to grab baby or pull them while swimming.

Pros:

  • Cute, patterned, girly, pink, and blue design.
  • Comfortable shape and pillow.

Cons:

  • Only has one buckle at the front, which makes it easier for kids to unbuckle.
  • It fits bigger babies better, not smaller infants.

Overall Thoughts

I think this is the perfect life jacket for infant girls. The pretty colors and patterns are cute, and it’s also comfy to wear.

If your baby is still young or on the smaller side, though, you might want to opt for another jacket. This reportedly runs a little large and does tend to push up in small babies’ faces.

9. CWB Connelly Baby-Soft Infant Life Vest

CWB Connelly Baby-Soft Infant Life VestCWB Connelly Baby-Soft Infant Life Vest

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Features

  • USCG-approved
  • Available in a teal/pink and red/white patterned design
  • Fits infants up to 30 lbs
  • Made from super-soft nylon

Things We Love!

This soft, cushy life jacket is perfect for little babies. I love that it’s made from an ultra-soft fabric that’s perfect for sensitive babies.

This material makes this jacket very comfortable and the perfect choice for fussy infants. This life jacket is also very effective at pushing baby face-up in the water thanks to its unique shape. 

Many moms reported feeling that baby was very safe and secure wearing it while doing water activities. I think many young babies will also enjoy chewing on it, too!

Pros:

  • Its unique shape keeps baby floating face-up.
  • A good choice for smaller infants; plus, it looks extra cute on!
  • Comfortable for swimming in.

Cons:

  • The crotch area isn’t adjustable, so the jacket may ride up.
  • It doesn’t have a grab handle.
  • It runs a bit small.

Overall Thoughts

This is one of the best infant life jackets for small or fussy babies. Though it doesn’t have a grab handle and the pillow makes it a little uncomfy, it’s a very safe option.

The shape does make it good for swimming in. So, it’s a great choice if you want to go swimming with baby while out having fun.

Buyer’s Guide to Buying an Infant Life Jacket

If you want to buy the best infant life jacket for your child, then you need to know more about them. Not to worry – in this guide, I’ll answer all your life jacket questions!

What are the different types? When is it necessary to start using one? What are the reasons why you should use one? How best to choose the right jacket? Read on to find out more!

Why Do I Need an Infant Life Jacket?

Any child under 13 on a vessel that is underway is required by Federal Law to wear a life jacket. If you’re doing this activity, you need a jacket by law and by common sense!  

Laws vary per state, though, so do always check. You can bring your infant on a moored or berthed boat without a jacket, though, but I wouldn’t advise that. 

After all, I’m pretty sure you’ll want to keep your infant safe during any risky activity. Life jackets are so important for kids and infants going anywhere near water, be it a river, lake, or the ocean. 

Laws aside, a life jacket is vital to keep them buoyant long enough for a quick rescue. So, if you’re going swimming, boating, or anywhere near the water, I think you definitely do need one.

At What Age Should I Start Using an Infant Life Jacket?

As mentioned before, all children under 13 need to wear a life jacket in a vessel that’s underway. Rules differ if the vessel isn’t underway or you’re doing another activity.

However, I would highly advise putting baby in one as soon as you go near water. Whether shallow, deep, rough, or still, any water, including swimming pools, pose a drowning risk.

Ideally, you’ll want to keep baby away from these situations when just a newborn. But, if this is not possible, you need to find a jacket to put them in.

Therefore, your lifestyle will most likely dictate when you should start using an infant life jacket. You can choose the correct type of jacket for the occasion, though.

Types of Infant Life Jackets

There are many different types of life jackets, in some cases known as personal flotation devices (PFD). Each of these has a specific purpose, usage, and efficacy in various situations.

Here are the main types and which use they’re best suited for.

US Coast-Guard-Approved Jackets

USCG-approved jackets are tested safe and effective and, therefore, the type of jacket you should always go for. Be sure that the jacket also fits and is either new or well-serviced, too. 

Type I Personal Flotation Device

Type I life jackets are the most buoyant and are designed for offshore usage. They will turn an unconscious person face-up. These types of jackets aren’t usually made for infants, though.

Type II Personal Flotation Device

Type II PFDs are your best and safest bet for still, inland water adventures. They turn an unconscious baby face-up around half of the time, not 100% of the time, though.

Type III Personal Flotation Device

A Type III PFD is as buoyant as a Type II jacket. However, it doesn’t turn an unconscious person or baby face-up. As such, they’re more suited for older kids who are able to swim.

Floaties or Puddle Jumpers

Puddle jumpers or floaties are the basic buoyancy devices you know and love. These don’t technically qualify as a life jacket. 

However, they are great for learning to swim in the pool. And yes, you can, and should, find US Coast-Guard-approved floaties and puddle-jumpers, too.

How to Choose the Best Infant Life Jacket

Choosing the right life jacket is easy when you know how. Just follow these simple steps to ensure you buy the perfect one for your little one!

Check If It’s US Coast Guard Approved

US Coast-Guard-Approved life jackets get tested to ensure they are effective and safe. So, make sure yours is USCG-approved before you buy.

If you’re out of the US, be sure to check who approves life jackets and what your local laws are. You should always comply with these and look for the best-approved option wherever you are.

Read Through Customer Reviews

When shopping for a life jacket online, remember to read through customer reviews first. These will alert you to any common issues, faults, or sizing problems, as well as the jacket’s positives.

Buy the Best Life Jacket for Your Budget

When it comes to safety gear, being thrifty is not my go-to course of action. Of course, paying more doesn’t always guarantee better quality, either. But, for the most part, go for quality.

Make Sure You Buy the Right Size

If the life jacket you buy isn’t a suitable size or fit for baby, it’s not safe at all. Make sure to return an ill-fitting jacket for one that fits well if need be.

Ensure the Jacket is in Good Working Order

Whether you’re buying new or used, a life jacket needs to be in working order. Check to make sure it’s not defective. Also, be sure to service it regularly – every two years is usually sufficient.

Test the Life Jacket Out Beforehand

Take that life jacket for a test run in your pool or bathtub. In this setting, you can see how it performs and if it’s in working order. If you don’t feel happy with it, return it for another safer one.

Conclusion:

Buying the best infant life jacket for your baby has a lot to do with being knowledgeable about the subject. However, life jackets definitely aren’t every parent’s common knowledge base!

However, if you’re planning on enjoying watery summer activities with a baby in tow, you need to know. I hope this post has helped you to understand how life jackets work and which to buy!

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