13 Best Life Jackets for Babies

13 Best Life Jackets for Babies

Whether you’re a family that likes to hit the neighborhood pool or whether you’re a boat-obsessed family, it’s never too early to introduce your infant to water. It’s not only fun but also offers an excellent opportunity to instill safe water habits. However, toddlers/infants and large bodies of water don’t mix. So it’s only natural for parents and caregivers to feel uneasy when their tots are around water bodies such as swimming pools, rivers, lakes, ponds, and oceans. That’s why you get the best life jacket for baby, whether it’s on a boat or float, with sizes ranging from smallest to largest.

Like the best swimming pool baby floats, infant life jackets need to be comfortable according to your baby’s size. Firstly, these infant life vests for baby on boat or in the pool should have lots of neck and head support. That’s because babies are still developing the support in and out of the water, so their jackets need to be approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. So, what are you waiting for? Here are the 13 best life jackets for your baby, whether in the pool or the boat, ranging from the smallest to the largest ones.

Stearns Infant Classic Series Vest

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The Stearns Infant Classic Series Vest is the best life jacket for baby. It’s the best vest life jacket design, perfect for even the smallest baby on boat. When it comes to baby life jackets, sometimes the simplest is the best, and that’s exactly what this life jacket is. The classic vest design has useful features, such as the PE flotation inner foam and a durable nylon shell. Aside from being US Coast Guard-approved, this jacket has a grab handle and a leg strap for extra security. So, you can grab your little ones without worrying about anything slipping or breaking. Parents love the head support too, which contains flotation foam, thus giving your tot confidence and comfort.

Pros

  • Leg strap and grab handle.
  • Classic and simple design.
  • US Coast Guard-approved.
  • Nylon shell and flotation foam.

Cons

  • Sizing can be tricky.

Salus Bijoux Baby Vest

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Yet another excellent smallest life jacket for baby is the Salus Bijoux Baby Vest. Do you hate bulky plastic life jackets that cause a ton of discomfort? Then this cooling life jacket is just the thing you’re looking for. For one, it has a webbing harness system and an adjustable mesh for improving air circulation. What’s more, it also keeps the heavy plastic fabrics from rubbing against their sensitive skin. Plus, the mesh back allows your baby to lay comfortably in a baby carrier or on a blanket. It can comfortably hold babies weighing 9-25 lbs. Moreover, the three-piece collar design has additional flotation that helps cradle your tot’s head.

Pros

  • Less bulky.
  • Additional flotation near the head.
  • Webbing and mesh harness keeps your baby cool.

Cons

  • t may take parents some getting used to when it comes to getting the mesh harness on correctly.

Stearns Puddle Jumper

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The Stearns Puddle Jumper is the best life jacket for baby. Do your kids refuse to put on life jackets because it’s uncomfortable and bulky? Then you might want to try this puddle jumper, which is Coast Guard-approved even though it looks nothing like a traditional life jacket. Firstly, it’s secure because it wraps around the torso and upper arms. So, it keeps your infant’s head well above water while keeping their torso unencumbered. What’s more, they can freely move their legs and arms to practice their swimming strokes. At the same time, they’ll be able to feel what it’s like to raise their torso to the water’s surface on their own.

Pros

  • Not bulky.
  • Maintains natural swimming positions.
  • Keeps the child happy and comfy.

Cons

  • There’s no grab strap.

Airhead Treasure Life Vest

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One of the best life jackets for baby on boat is the Airhead Treasure Life Vest. This vest from Airhead is rated for babies under 30 lbs and even features adjustable buckle straps, allowing it to fit your baby snugly. There’s a lot to like about this jacket, which has an accessible grab strap. So, you can haul your kid from the water easily and quickly. Furthermore, the foam collar offers additional neck and head support for your infant, both in and out of the water. What’s more, this model comes printed with many cute designs and cartoons.

Pros

  • Has grab straps.
  • Brightly colored and comes in two colors.
  • USCG-approved Type II life jacket.

Cons

  • Won’t fit very tiny babies.

O’Neill Infant USCG Vest

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The O’Neill Infant USCG Vest is the best life jacket for baby. Parents taking their babies out on a boating or fishing trip out on the lake, river, or ocean should get this life vest. This life jacket will quickly flip your tit onto their back, thus keeping their faces out of the water. So, it’ll prevent them from drowning in case of an accident. What’s more, the attached grab strap and the bright colors will make them not only easy to locate but also be pulled out of the water. Besides being supremely comfortable, this jacket has a crotch strap to keep babies safe and secure. The adjustable buckles and the dual-fasten zipper wrap up the features, allowing for customization of fit.

Pros

  • High-quality design.
  • Facilitates face-up floatation.
  • Crotch strap.
  • Brightly colored.

Cons

  • Only for babies weighing up to 30 lbs.

Stearns PFD 2000013194 Jacket

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The Stearns PFD 2000013194 Jacket is an excellent floatation device. This snug-fitting device has a lot going for it, such as the buckled enclosure. What’s more, it also has a comfortable polyester liner that makes it much less bulky and smaller than a typical life jacket. So, it’s perfect for your tot to splash about in the pool too. It also has a neck flap which will keep your baby’s head above the water in case they fall in. Plus, the bright-green design of the life jacket ensures that visibility is excellent, especially if you decide to take your baby out on a boat. Finally, it’s Type II Coast Guard-approved, which means that it’ll meet the legal standards.

Pros

  • Can flip your baby onto their back.
  • Sturdy build.
  • Less bulky.
  • Brightly colored design.

Cons

  • Slightly smaller neck hole.

Stohlquist Unisex Infant Life Jacket

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The Stohlquist Unisex Infant Life Jacket is the best life jacket for baby. What’s great about this model is that it doesn’t offer just one foam neck support, but two! In fact, the brand added an additional foam pad, thus improving the foam flap design and offering additional support for smaller babies. Thanks to the zipper, the jacket is easy to use. Plus, the clip with the adjustable strap is perfect for additional security. Besides being Coast Guard-approved and having a less bulky design, the jacket also has a crotch strap that prevents it from slipping over the baby’s head.

Pros

  • The grab strap is easy to access and strong.
  • Has a strap and a buckle.
  • Dual neck support.
  • Comes in bright yellow.

Cons

  • Expensive

Airhead Classic Infant Life Jacket

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The Airhead Classic Infant Life Jacket Infant is perfect for infants who weigh less than 30 lbs. While life jackets could be tricky to fit, this Airhead jacket goes a long way in taking the guesswork out of the equation. What’s more, the vest features three adjustable front straps and a crotch strap. Furthermore, each of them has side-release buckles for quick, easy, and simple on-and-off access. If that wasn’t enough, the closed-sided design stays snug on your baby, no matter how much they decide to move their arms and legs around. Finally, the bright yellow straps and headrests are great, too.

Pros

  • Lots of head support.
  • Side and crotch straps.
  • Bright colors.

Cons

  • Bulky.

Overton’s Infant Vest

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The Overton’s Infant Vest is yet another best life jacket for baby. Designed for babies weighing less than 30 lbs, this life jacket boasts an oversized head-support collar designed to sit snugly around your baby’s head. So, it’s ideal for younger kids whose life jackets tend to ride up. What’s more, the elasticized fabric leg straps add to the comfort factor, as it moves with your kid so as not to irritate their skin. One of the best bits about the life jacket is that it comes in multiple colors, such as blue, yellow, and pink, thus ensuring the brightest visibility in the water. Finally, since it’s completely open on the back, with the strip of fabric being the exception, it’s a lot more comfortable.

Pros

  • Bright colors.
  • Elastic fabric crotch.
  • Oversized head support.

Cons

  • This style may be a bit too restrictive for older children. 

Oceans 7 Infant Life Jacket

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The Oceans 7 Infant Life Jacket is one of the best smallest life jackets for a baby. If your kid is all about their favorite movie and TV cartoon characters, then this aesthetically designed jacket is just the ticket. The colorful design is sure to please your little one enough for them to put their life jackets on before going into the pool. Besides being safety rated, the jacket also has a grab handle for safety, if you want to get to your baby quickly. Plus, the crotch strap and the headrest add a degree of comfort, as well as support. 

Pros

  • Color options.
  • Grab handle.
  • Crotch strap and headrest.

Cons

  • Not designed for lanky kids.

O’Brien Infant Life Jacket

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The O’Brien Infant Life Jacket is the best life jacket for baby. The jacket comes in two colors, blue with pink straps and red with black and white straps, and it combines safety and comfort. Firstly, the life jacket has safety features, including a grab strap, a leg strap, and an adjustable belt. Together, all three provide a safety net for your baby when they’re in the water. What’s more, they’re all available all in a sporty and bright pink and white and black color, depending don’t the life jacket you choose. If that wasn’t enough, the wide armholes would improve mobility, perfect for getting your babies moving in the water.

Pros

  • Big headrest.
  • Wide armholes.
  • Adjustable belt and leg strap.

Cons

  • Only for babies weighing 30 lbs or less.

O’Neill Infant Superlite

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The O’Neill Infant Superlite Life Jacket has come a long way since its inception. In fact, the jackets started off as cork blocks in canvas vests, but the brand paved the way, with innovation being the objective. This O’Neill life jacket is stylish, maneuverable, and lightweight without cutting corners on safety. The Type-III Coastguard approved jacket has a lot going for it, and it comes in two color combinations. One is a yellow and blue combo, and another is a combo of aqua and light pink, making it perfect for all babies. Wrapping up the features is the heavy-duty wide webbing belts with quick-release buckles that allow them to fasten easily and adjust the fit quickly.

Pros

  • Crotch strap for safety.
  • Not bulky.
  • Comfortable.

Cons

  • Runs small.

Stearns Infant Puddle

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The Stearns Infant Puddle is the best life jacket for baby. This vibrant Type II life jacket comes in four color options, namely blue fish, green fish, blue, and pink. The comfortable and fun jacket is beloved by both parents and kids. For one, the kids love to wear this. Secondly, the bright colors make it easy for parents to keep an eye on the kids. So, it’s practical and safe too. The oversized head support encourages face-up flotation, while the grab handle and leg straps ensure additional security and safety.

Pros

  • Durable.
  • Softshell.
  • Supportive and comfortable.
  • Coast Guard-approved.

Cons

  • None, really.

How To Choose The Best Life Jackets for Babies?

Approved brands and products

Look for jackets that come recommended with approval from the Coast Guard. According to AAP, kids should only be wearing life jackets that are approved by the Coast Guard. Check for the Coast Guard approval by looking for an approval number, which should be included on the life jacket tag. According to the Coast Guard, all babies who weigh 33 lbs or less should wear Type II life jackets. Also, parents need to note that the life jacket labeling system will change from “type” to numerical systems in the coming years. 

Weight and fit

Firstly, you need to choose a life jacket for baby on boat that’s designed for your tot’s weight. While the Coast Guard has a minimum weight limit, different life jackets can have specific weight ranges based on the manufacturer. So, always check the label to ensure that the life jacket matches up with your baby’s weight.

Secondly, you need to check the fit. For instance, foam life jackets should always be snug when they’re worn correctly. What’s more, they shouldn’t rise above your little one’s ears or chin, according to the Coast Guard. However, the best thing to do is always try the vest on your little one to check the fit. Additionally, if the life jackets straps cannot be tied, zipped, or buckled, then they might be too small.

Extras

Most importantly, parents need to skip inflatable jackets or ones that are a mix of inflatable and foam material, a.k.a. hybrid ones. They aren’t recommended for infants. Also, look for extras such as grab handles, crotch straps, and neck collars. The strap will keep the vest from inching up and offer your infant’s developing muscles some extra head support.

Is your child slightly older? Here are some of the best life jackets for kids.

When can you put a baby in a life jacket?

According to the U.S. Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety, infants and babies shouldn’t travel on boats until they weigh a minimum of 18 lbs and can don personal flotation devices. Generally, most babies will reach that goal weight between 4 and 11 months of age.

Are puddle jumpers better than life jackets?

Life jackets are the best options, even compared to puddle jumpers, ideal for only splashing about in the pool.

Should toddlers wear life jackets in a pool?

According to Water Safety USA, kids under five who are out of the arm’s reach of adults should wear life jackets in the pool.

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