23 Best Life Jackets for Kids, Infants, Toddlers, and Child

A life jacket or life vest is a personal floatation device or PFD that is required to have for everyone who is riding on a boat. Children are required to wear the life jacket while adults typically just have to have it on board the vessel. Having and life jacket is a simple way to keep children and adults safe on the water. Knowing the size and features of the life jackets helps ensure the best life jacket is selected for your child.

best life jackets for kids infants and toddlers

Children who are over the weight of 18 pounds require a life jacket in order to keep them safe while on the water. Infants and smaller children under this weight limit should not be in a boat. This is because life jackets are not made to be this small. The life vest is unlikely to properly fit children this small. Always read the jacket prior to putting it on a child to make sure they fit the weight, height, and age requirements for that specific product.

Children’s life jackets are rated and separated by size. Typically there are three size life jacket sizes for kids. Infant life jackets are rated from 0-30 pounds. Small child life jackets will be rated from 30-50 pounds and large child life jackets will be rated from 50-90 pounds. Here are some of the best life jackets for children to use while they are in the water. These help ensure the laws are followed surrounding life jackets and most importantly help keep kids safe.

Here Are the Best Life Jackets for Kids


1. Stern Infant Life Jacket

Stern Infant Life Jacket

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Estimated Price: $24

Specification
Weight Rating: 0-30 pounds
USCG Rating: Type II
Material:
Nylon, could also be Foam or Neoprene
Crotch Strap: Yes
Color: Blue or Red

This Sterns Classic Life Vest is made for infants or toddlers. To secure the infant into the vest there is a zipper, crotch strap, and grab handle to help lift a child to safety. It is a USCG approved Type II life vest. This is not a guaranteed self-righting life jacket and close adult supervision is required at all times when the child may end up in the water.

This life jacket is made with a nylon exterior with PE foam to provide the flotation. It is a popular life vest with all the basic features for a quality kid’s life jacket. It is a good life jacket to have for infants and toddlers to wear on a boat, near a pool, on docks, at the beach, and when spending time around any type of water.

If you are going on a vacation do not expect excursions or boat charter to have proper life vests for infants and toddlers. It is important to bring your own properly sized life jacket to not end up limiting the plans for your trip.


2. Connelly Babysafe Life Vest

Connelly Babysafe Life Vest

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Estimated Price: $24.99

Specification
Weight Rating: 0-30 pounds
USCG Rating: Type II
Material:
Nylon
Crotch Strap: Yes
Color: Blue or Pink

The Connelly Babysafe life jacket is rated for children up to 30 pounds but has a unique design that conforms to their body. This provides added protection in case they end up in the water alone. With adjustable straps, you can adjust to fit the body of the child.

This lightweight life jacket provides not only comfort but protection when it is needed most by the water. The quick-release buckles are easy to put on, but also take off if need be in a quick amount of time. They are also durable, do not break down, and are very unlikely to unlatch if the child is in the water and needs to be held up.

Easily slip the vest on and off and choose from two different colors depending on what the child wants to wear. Connelly Life Jackets also come in child sizes, so they can be purchased in larger sizes to grow with the child. US Coast Guard Approved so you can rest assured knowing your little one is safe whenever you’re around the water.


3. Full Throttle Infant Baby Life Jacket

Full Throttle Infant Baby Life Jacket

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Estimated Price: $20.99 – $29.99

Specification
Weight Rating: 0-30 pounds
USCG Rating: Type II
Material:
Nylon
Crotch Strap: Yes
Color: Orange or Pink

The Full Throttle infant life jacket is brightly colored and easy to spot in the water. It has a different shape for most life jackets but one that provides a secure comfortable fit for the small children who wear them. This is a good life jacket choice for parents who are looking after or keeping an eye out for a small child.

The vest is US Coast Guard Approved, making it safe and secure to use for most bodies of water. This is a good vest for smaller children to wear for longer periods of time. The leg strap is elasticized, allowing for better movement when wearing the vest.

An oversized collar provides more head support than other options on the market. The buckle opening at the top of the vest makes it easier than ever to slip on and off and tighten to fit the specific size of the child. The design makes this life jacket a great choice for smaller children who want to be safe while around the water, but also comfortable.


4. Stohlquist Infant-Toddler Life Jacket

Stohlquist Infant Toddler Life Jacket

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Estimated Price: $59.95

Specification
Weight Rating: 0-30 pounds
USCG Rating: Type II
Material:
Nylon, could also be Foam or Neoprene
Crotch Strap: Yes
Color: Blue, Red, Yellow, Green

This Stohlquist infant wrap-around floatation device helps ensures that if the child drops in the water, they are turned face up. You will have less worry about not being able to keep them safe. The zipper as well as buckle fasteners, keep the life jacket secure on the child.

It is US Coast Guard Approved, so you know the life jacket proves the child with adequate flotation. The grab handle on the back part of the vest makes it easier to grab the child from the water should they fall in. It is an added safety measure but also one that has been reinforced with durability.

The life vest is lightweight but provides protection. The design makes it comfortable to wear even outside of the water, so the child can always have the protection needed when they are around an area where water might be an issue. The vest floats the child calmly, face-up, and reduces the chances of having them turn around face down into the water.


5. Airhead Infant Life Jacket

Airhead Infant Life Jacket

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Estimated Price: $25

Specification
Weight Rating: 0-30 pounds
USCG Rating: Type II
Material:
Nylon, PVC Foam
Crotch Strap: Yes
Color: Duck Yellow or Hippo Blue

The Airhead infant life jacket is rated for children who are 30 pounds or less. The jacket has three adjustable straps with buckle closures and a leg strap. The YKK zipper closure provides an extra layer of protection and keeps the jacket close to the body. The jacket is USCG approved, providing the best type of protection necessary for keeping the child up out of the water.

With kid-friendly designs available, the child can enjoy wearing this life jacket without as many complaints. Thought of as a value series, the price of these life jackets is more affordable than some of the other higher-end options. However, this does not mean that the quality is lower. The quality is similar to other brands.

The vest is comfortable for a smaller child to wear, up to 30 pounds. You can also ensure that you have durability, as the polyester is reinforced and provides a supportive headrest on the back of the jacket. This supports the head for those smaller children who may not be able to keep their heads out of the water as easily if they do end up in the water.


6. O’Neill Infant Waterski Life Jacket

ONeill Infant Waterski Life Jacket

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Estimated Price: $29.95 – $64.95

Specification
Weight Rating: 0-30 pounds
USCG Rating: Type II
Material:
Neoprene and Nylon
Crotch Strap: Yes
Color: Blue, Pink, Green, Yellow

The O’Neill Infant Waterski Life Jacket is a lightweight, protective design to protect the child while they are by the water. O’Neill is a trusted name brand in the water community, allowing you to feel confident knowing your child is safe when they are wearing this life jacket.

With a quick release dual safety buckle, you can quickly remove the child from the jacket should you need to in a hurry. You can also enjoy the adjustable safety belt for between the legs, so you can move the belt and buckle up or down depending on the size of the child and the fit that is required.

USCG approved, you can feel more confident purchasing a life jacket that meets the safety requirements. Those who are looking for a comfortable, yet safe way to protect their child in and around water can use this life vest that provides everything they need. This offers some peace of mind when bringing your child to the water. A good life jacket is not a substitute for adult supervision though. Kids should always be watched closely even when they have a life jacket on.


7. Stearns Infant Puddle Jumper Hydroprene

Stearns Infant Puddle Jumper Hydroprene

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Estimated Price: $120

Specification
Weight Rating: 0-30 pounds
USCG Rating: Type III
Material:
Neoprene
Crotch Strap: Yes
Color: Pink or Green

The Stearns Infant Puddle Jumper Hydroprene life jacket is US Coast Guard Approved and comes complete with a user manual attached right to the front of the jacket. This jacket is one that is not split in the middle, so you don’t have to worry about the baby coming out of the middle of it. Not only that but with the secure fit, it can provide you with more peace of mind knowing that you have the best fit for your baby.

The life jacket is made to flip the smaller sized child onto their back if they find themselves in the water. This helps keep their heads above the water to get air. The material stretches over the child and then conforms to their body. This allows the child to have a snug, perfect fit when it is needed to keep them above and out of the water. The life jacket has a zipper in the back and a buckle on the side used to take the life jacket on and off.


8. Stearns Original Puddle Jumper

Stearns Original Puddle Jumper

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Estimated Price: $14.99 – $19.99

Specification
Weight Rating: 20-50 pounds
USCG Rating: Type V/ Type III
Material:
Nylon
Crotch Strap: Yes
Color: Blue, Green, Orange, Yellow, Pink, Red

The Stearns Original Puddle Jumper provides the user with a way to enjoy wearing something that is fun, since many of them come with bright, colorful pictures on the front of them. You can choose which one your child might like or want to wear.

These are US Coast Guard Approved Type III devices when the puddle jumper is being worn. Since kids are required to wear a life jacket this would meet the boating requirements in most areas. This vest is most popular for kids to use while they are actually swimming. This is because the arm and chest floats provide a comfortable way for kids to float and swim. A vest-style would likely be more comfortable if it is going to be worn all day out of the water.

Puddle jumpers are used to provide more confidence to those beginner swimmers while in the water. It can reduce the amount of anxiety they feel while in the water. This life jacket can help keep young kids afloat while in the water in a comfortable way.

The strap is adjustable, so you can adjust it to the size of the child and not have to worry about it providing the secure hold you need and want. You can protect the child and keep them safe and secure with the use of the strap.


9. Body Glove Dinosaur Swim Life Jacket

Body Glove Dinosaur Swim Jacket

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Estimated Price: $18.50 – $27.99

Specification
Weight Rating: 30-50 pounds
USCG Rating: Type III
Material:
Polyester
Crotch Strap: Yes
Color: Blue, Green, Red, Pink, Yellow

The Body Glove Dinosaur Swim Jacket not only comes with a dino design, but you can also choose from a series of other designs to fit the child. Sharks, monsters, unicorns, and more are all welcoming for the child who wants to be US Coast Guard Approved with the life jacket that provides the protection and floatation that is needed.

This life jacket makes sure to keep the child’s head above water when it comes to paddling around. You can slip it over their bodies, but also conform it to them when the chest strap is connected strongly and snuggly against them.

Protect the child you have with the use of this high-end life jacket made to provide protection, comfort, and peace of mind. The cute designs make it a jacket that children will want to wear, but the approval of the US Coast Guard and the great reviews make it a jacket that parents want to put their children in.


10. Full Throttle Child Water Buddies Life Vest

Full Throttle Child Water Buddies Life Vest

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Estimated Price: $24

Specification
Weight Rating: 30-50 pounds
USCG Rating: Type III
Material:
Nylon
Crotch Strap: Yes
Color: Orange, Pink, Blue

Choose from a dinosaur, ladybug, princess or turtle picture on the front of this life jacket. Approved by the US Coast Guard, you can ensure that your child is staying safe while playing in or around water. Easily adjust the straps to fit on the child with ease, but also provide the form fit that they require when floating around in the water.

This life jacket should be hand-washed, and it should be wiped down to provide the best look and performance. Make sure it dries out completely before storing it away. Children love wearing this life jacket since it is one that provides comfort, but also the fun designs and colors that you need and want while in the water.

The straps provide better security and performance by holding the child up and hot have it slip over their head. The floatation device is made to flip the child up, so their head is above the water and they are facing up towards the sky. It is easy to use, connect, and ensure that the child is safe wherever they are. Parents choose this one because of the security but also the fun designs.


11. Stearns 30-50 pound Hydroprene Life Vest

Stearns 30-50 pound Hydroprene Life Vest

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Estimated Price: $39 – $39

Specification
Weight Rating: 30-50 pounds
USCG Rating: Type III
Material:
 Neoprene
Crotch Strap: Yes
Color: Blue or Pink

The Stearns Hydroprene life vest is made for mid-sized children to wear. You can find that it opens in the front, buckles with two closures in the front, and has the crotch strap buckle close to the front. You can adjust the vest to the size of the child, so you can have the perfect fit that is comfortable to wear and secure if the child ends up in the water. The neoprene outside material of the life jacket is soft and is more comfortable than other materials when it rubs on bear-skin.

This life jacket helps to keep children safe when they are by bodies of water. You can find that the jacket is made to fit the size of the child that is listed on the jacket which is 30-50 pounds. You can enclose them in, adjust and tighten the straps around the child.

The life jacket is made to be comfortable, so even for extended periods of time, the child is able to comfortably swim in the water and stay afloat when they need to. These life jackets are approved through the US Coast Guard, allowing you to have that peace of mind.


12. Stearns 30-50 Pound Child Life Vest

Stearns 30-50 pound Child Life Vest

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Estimated Price: $24

Specification
Weight Rating: 30-50 pounds
USCG Rating: Type III
Material:
Nylon, Foam Inside
Crotch Strap: Yes
Color: Red or Blue

The Stearns Classic series vest is a widely used life jacket. This jacket comes with all the needed features for a quality life jacket for mid-sized kids at a reasonable price. It has three front buckles and a crotch strap. Color options red or blue. I think red is a great color for a life jacket as it looks nice and is highly visible.

This life jacket is lightweight and is fairly comfortable for kids to wear out of the water all day. It is also a good life jacket to use for jumping into the water to cool off and swim. The jacket has a Type III rating witch means it is not intended to self-right an unconscious person.

For small kids under 30 pounds, Type II vests are commonly used. For larger kids, over 30 pounds Type III vests are a decent option as it still offers good flotation but it does not have the headrest so it is less cumbersome for the child to wear. If the child can not swim then a Type II vest would be better. Both options are available for 30-50 pound life jacket sizes.


13. Stearns Head Up 30-50 Pound Child Life Jacket

Stearns Head Up 30-50 Pound Life Jacket

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Estimated Price: $27.99 – $36.50

Specification
Weight Rating: 30-50 pounds
USCG Rating: Type II
Material:
Nylon, Foam inside
Crotch Strap: Yes
Color: Green

The Stearns Head-up 30-50-pound life jacket is the jacket that provides the floatation that is necessary in case the child ends up falling in water. When they do, this jacket will keep them afloat and holds their head up safely and securely. The headrest pops up behind the child’s head and keeps keep the child head above water. This is a Type II life jacket that can be difficult to find in the 30-50 pound size range.

The jacket safely floats and provides some righting self-right ability. If this child can not swim this is a better option than a Type III life jacket. Polyester, nylon, and foam all come together to provide the durable, comfortable life jacket that keeps you afloat when you want and need to be. You can see the child from afar because of the bright green color that shines bright when you see it in the water or even far away on the beach.

The crotch strap can easily be adjusted to the size and height of the child to provide the protection the kid needs. It also has two buckles, a headrest, and a grab handle to allow the kid to float safely and be quickly pulled from the water if necessary.


14. GogoKids Kids Boy and Girls Life Jacket

GogoKids Kids Boy and Girls Life Jacket

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Estimated Price: $17.99 – $28.99

Specification
Weight Rating: 26-77 pounds
USCG Rating: Type III
Material:
Nylon
Crotch Strap: Yes
Color: Blue or Pink

This Gogokids life jacket has a design of this life jacket that makes bigger kids feel more independent when they are by the water. You don’t have to worry about the buckles, the security, or the durability of this life jacket. It provides the protection you want and need from a life jacket that protects. You can see that the jacket is bright, so regardless of where the child is, you will be able to see them from afar.

One good thing about this life jacket is that it provides UV protection in addition to providing the buoyancy that is necessary to keep the child out of the water. You can choose from the four different sizes, so you can find something that fits the child that you have but also provides the protection and snug appeal that they need.

If you are looking for a swim jacket that provides protection for a larger kid, this can be an ideal choice. Approved by the US Coast Guard with a Type III rating, the life jacket can be worn on a boat, by the beach, or any body of water to provide the necessary protection that is needed. The jacket is secured with two front buckles, a front zipper, and two crotch strap buckles.


15. HeySpash Life Jacket Swim Vest

HeySpash Life Jacket Swim Vest

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Estimated Price: $28.99 – $32.99

Specification
Weight Rating: 35-77 pounds
USCG Rating: Type III
Material:
Neoprene
Crotch Strap: Yes
Color: Blue or Pink

This Heysplash life jacket is comfortable for the child to wear out of the water and in the water. It is a secure jacket with two front buckles, a central zipper, a padded crotch strap, and a grab handle. The neoprene material is soft and squishy.

The adjustable straps on this jacket also make it so that it easily conforms and fits the child’s body. You can feel confident knowing you have a quality secure life vest. Not only that but the webbing and safety that the jacket provides ensure the best fit. You can slip the jacket onto the child zip it up, snap the buckles, and realize it is very unlikely to come off the kid.

The armholes are larger than the normal life jacket, which is more comfortable for children who want to play while wearing the jacket. It can also help them learn how to swim in the pool without having to worry about the range of motion. It is recommended that you do not expose the life jacket to the sun for long durations because this can cause the materials to break down. Also, make sure to fully dry it before storing it as the neoprene can hold water.


16. Seachoice Type I Child Life Jacket PFD

Seachoice Type-I Child Life Jacket PFD

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Estimated Price: $34 – $107

Specification
Weight Rating: Up to 90 Pounds
USCG Rating: Type I
Material:
Polyester and Foam
Crotch Strap: No
Color: Fluorescent Orange

This Seachoice life jacket is USCG Type 1 approved. A Type 1 vest is the best at keeping and unconscious upright in the water. It is the highest-rated life jacket and is required on most commercial vessels. The jacket has reflective tape and it is common to additionally add a strobe on the vest.

Type 1 life jackets are not necessarily the best for all situations. When many people think about not wanting to wear a life jacket all day, this is the style of life jacket that comes to mind. It fits around the neck and can be cumbersome to wear out of the water. In the water, this life jacket performs well. However, it does not fit and securely as buckle style life jackets for high-speed impact during water skiing and tubing.

This is a youth life jacket rated up to 90 pounds. A Type I life jacket might be required to have on the boat for all passengers. It is also a requirement for kids below a certain age to wear a life jacket all day when on a boat. It is a good idea to get a Type II or Type III life jacket for kids to wear all day on a boat since they are significantly more comfortable. The same is true for adults that plan to frequently wear life jackets.


17. Hardcore Water Sports Child Youth Life Jacket

Hardcore Water Sports Child and Youth Life Jacket

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Estimated Price: $27.95

Specification
Weight Rating: 50-90 Pounds
USCG Rating: Type III
Material:
Nylon
Crotch Strap: No
Color: Black and Red

The Hardcore Water Sports Child and Youth Life Jacket is made to provide the security and safety you want for kids between 50 and 90 pounds. This is a vest style life jacket with three front buckles on the straps that can be adjusted to fit securely.  Since this jacket is made for larger children and youth there is not a crotch strap.

This life vest is US Coast Guard-Approved Type III which is suitable for most recreational boating purposes and requirements. The personal floatation device is easy to slip on, tighten up to safely enjoy a day on the water.


18. Airhead Neolite Child Life Jacket

Airhead Neolite Child Life Jacket

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Estimated Price: $45

Specification
Weight Rating: 50-90 pounds
USCG Rating: Type III
Material:
NeoLite
Crotch Strap: No
Color: Hot Pink

This Airhead hot pink life jacket is a US Coast Guard Approved Type III life jacket. Whether in a kayak or canoe or out on a boat, this jacket provides style and function. It is also found at an affordable price which makes this a good live vest to choose for your water activities.

The vest is lightweight and has thin layers that provide comfort during long days on the water. It is made with a Neolite outer layer that is a soft flexible material like neoprene but dries more quickly. The ability to dry quickly is nice when using the vest for water activities like skiing, kneeboarding, wakeboarding, and tubing.

The two front buckles and front zipper allow the child to fit snuggly into the life jacket. It is also stain-resistant and UV resistant. If you like neoprene life jackets this would be a great life jacket to use.


19. Onyx Youth Life Jacket for Kayaks

Onyx Youth Life Jacket for Kayaks

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Estimated Price: $29 – $39

Specification
Weight Rating: 50-90 pounds
USCG Rating: Type III
Material:
Neoprene
Crotch Strap: No
Color: Red or Yellow

The Onyx youth life jacket has open shoulders which is great for paddle sports such as kayaks, rafts, inflatable boats, and canoes. Its low profile design is lightweight and compact which makes it comfortable to wear on shore and on boats. For waterskiing and wakeboarding, I would recommend a larger life jacket with two or more buckles and a zipper. This is a nice jacket for most other boat activities where the user does not expect to be in the water.

The life jacket is made for larger or bigger kids with a 50 pound to 90-pound rating. Color options are red or yellow which are both nice a bight to provide good visibility above the water. This paddle style life jacket is one of the most comfortable styles on the market to wear. Other style vests can restrict arm movement and rub on the neck when worn all day. This is also a good life jacket for kids to wear while fishing.

Related Article: 17 Best Zebco Spincast Fishing Reels


20. Onyx All Adventure Kid Life Jacket

Onyx All Adventure Kid Life Jacket

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Estimated Price: $30.99

Specification
Weight Rating: 50-90 pounds
USCG Rating: Type III
Material:
Nylon
Crotch Strap: No
Color: Blue or Purple

This Onyx youth life jacket really makes lightweight and comfortable come to life. You can choose from two different colors that provide and great look. The arms go through the arm-holes then there is a front zipper and two front buckles to secure the vest. It has a good fit for paddle sports, swimming, and is comfortable to wear while being active above water.

The nylon feel and protection of this vest is something that ensures you get the best fit. You can adjust it to your specific body. The youth-size is one that goes up to 90 pounds, but you have to be at least 50 pounds in order to wear this life vest.

Pair with the water sports you like to do and you’re able to head out and enjoy the day. You will have less worry about your child falling in the water when they are wearing a good life vest. This life jacket is quality, durable, and ready to protect against the water and the sun.


21. TRC Recreation Kids Super Soft USCG Vest

TRC Recreation Kids Super Soft USCG Vest

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Estimated Price: $58 – $81

Specification
Weight Rating: 50-90 pounds
USCG Rating: Type III
Material:
Vinyl, Foam
Crotch Strap: Yes
Color: Orange, Yellow, Green

The TRC Recreation Kids Super Soft USCG vest provides the added protection that is needed to keep a kid afloat. You can find that the bright colors also make the child easy to see when they are not immediately right next to you. Be prepared for the fun in the sun and water when you have a life jacket that is US Coast Guard Approved, lightweight, easy to put on, and comfortable to wear.

The unsinkable foam material helps to keep the child afloat in the water if they end up falling in. The bright color makes sure they are seen should they end up in the water. This soft foam material does not absorb as much water as other life jackets. This is nice cause it will dry faster after exiting the water. For this reason, it is a good life jacket for swimming and jumping in the water followed by getting back on the boat. It is also good for the beach as it is easy to rinse the sand and dirt off the life jacket.

These life jackets have everything you need and more from the closed-cell foam and the vinyl coating that is easy to wipe down. Completely dry the material before you store the jacket to increase the longevity of the product.


22. Stohlquist Fit Kid’s Youth Life Jacket

Stohlquist Fit Kids Youth Life Jacket

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Estimated Price: $19.99

Specification
Weight Rating: 50-90 pounds
USCG Rating: Type III
Material:
Nylon, Polyethylene
Crotch Strap: No
Color: Blue or Red

This Stohlquist Fit kid’s life jacket is a reasonable price life jacket that is comfortable for children to wear. The open shoulders make it a good choice for active kids that are swimming, kayaking, or playing in the life vest. It has three from buckles for a secure fit. The color options are blue-black-yellow and red-gray-white.

Being rated for larger kids their is not a crotch strap. This is a USCG approved Type III life jacket. It is a basic life jacket that is secure and not overly cumbersome or uncomfortable for kids to wear. If used for water sports I would recommend getting the red as it stands out and is easier to see. There is a loop on the back of the vest to allow for it to stored or dried on a hook. Another good way to store life jackets is on a hanger.

Related Article: 30 Best Life Jackets


23. Stohlquist Kid’s Escape Life Jacket PFD

Stohlquist Kid's Escape Life Jacket PFD

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Estimated Price: $59 – $117

Specification
Weight Rating: 75-125 pounds
USCG Rating: Type III
Material:
Nylon, Polyethylene
Crotch Strap: No
Color: Red or Green

The Stohlquist Kid’s Escape life jacket has open shoulder areas which brings a lot of people to purchase it over the others that you can find. This is great for being active above the water and for paddle sports like kayaking where having unrestricted arm motion is important. The life jacket is rated for weights from 75-125 pounds which is nice for children who are too large for other kid life jackets. It is a good in-between life jacket size for kids that are too big for youth 50-90 pound life jackets but too small for an adult life jacket. This life jacket also comes in the 50-90 pound size allowing for this high-end vest to be available for most kids.

The US Coast Guards approved the use of this life jacket as a Type III. The thinner panels on the back of this life jacket also make it more ideal for kayaks and being able to sit in areas where there are high seat backs that need to be leaned into. If kids complain that life jackets are restrictive and uncomfortable this would be a good life jacket to get them to help solve the issue. It is secured with a front zipper and front buckle near the waist. The top shoulder pads also have straps to help secure and allow a snug fit for the life jacket. Another nice thing about this life jacket is that it has a pocket that can hold a cell phone or PLB to communicate with kids that might have an emergency on the water.

Related Article: Best Personal Locator Beacons


Information About Kid Life Jackets

Life Jacket Styles for Infants, Toddlers, and Small Children

Infant life jackets should have padded head support, a crotch strap, and a grab handle. They should be approved by the  United States Coast Guard. This is because if the life jacket is not certified or approved, it might not be able to be used by those who are on a water vessel. This can mean not having a properly certified life jacket can result in a ticket and other serious league issues. More importantly, though the jacket might not provide adequate safety for the child.

Overview of 5 types of life jackets. Which are Type I, Type II, Type III, Type IV, and Type V.
Type I Life Jackets

Type I life jackets are said to turn “most” unconsciously wearers face-up when in the water. These jackets tend to be bulkier because they are made for more rough waters. This is because the rescue at sea might be unlikely or take a while. The life jacket has to keep the wearer above the rough waters while this happens. They are more likely to be found on commercial vehicles, though some like to bring these life jackets with them to ensure that they have the best protection while out on the waters since they do provide more protection under certain situations.

Most recreational boats are just required to have a Type I, Type II, or Type III life jacket onboard the vessel. While most commercial boats are required to have type 1. This is important to look into if you own a water vessel since you want to make sure that you are choosing the best life jacket that fits well with the specific boat you have and the jacket you are going to need to use.

Make sure to look into the rules and regulations for the waterways and boats in your area. You should always make sure to follow the specific rules set forth for kids. Having the proper life jacket for them is best for their safety and comfort on the water. A Type I might be required on the boat for kids but they can wear a Type III during not emergency situations. It is important to check the local regulations.

There are differences between each type of life jacket, and it is important to know what sets them apart. Depending on who is going to be using the jacket, their age, swimming skills, and more; you should consider which would be best for them to wear. A comfortable life jacket people will wear often is better in many cases to a “better” life jacket that is uncomfortable and never worn.

Type II Life Jackets

Type II life jackets are said to turn “some” unconscious wearers face-up when in the water. These jackets are made for those boats where they are used on inland waters that are calm more likely than not, and where rescue is more likely to occur. The jackets typically have a headstand or more floatation toward the front the be more likely to have the use face up in the water than Type III life vests.

Type III Life Jackets

Type III life jackets are designed to help keep a conscious person afloat when in the water. Most basic life jackets are Type III. It does not mean that it is a bad life jacket. These vests are typically comfortable to wear on a boat and when swimming in the water. There is a wide variety of Type III life vests that are made with different quality levels. The user should consider the application and performance needed when selecting a life jacket. A water skiing life jacket for example might have high-speed water impacts and should be a top quality life jacket with a secure fit.

Type IV Life Jackets

Type IV are throwable devices. Many boat cushions are USCG Type IV approved. Additionally, a throw ring with a rope is a great option. In most cases, one Type IV aid is required on the boat in addition to life jackets. This is even true for small kayaks and canoes so make sure to check the requirements in the area.

Type V Life Jackets

Type V life jackets are special-use devices. This includes inflatable life jackets and pulled jumpers. In order to be approved by the United States Coast Guard, they must be worn at all times. Just having them on the vessels does not meet coast guard requirements. If the live vest is being worn is it typically considers a Type III life jacket.

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Frequently Asked Questions

At what age do kids need to wear life jackets?

The requirements can vary from state to state, but in general, children under the age of 13 need to wear a life jacket while on a moving boat. The child does not have to be wearing a life jacket if they are under the boat deck, in a cabin on the boat, or if the boat is currently docked and not actually moving.

This is something that you can also look into with your local and state official’s office. They can provide more information on what they recommended and require for that particular area. However, smaller children should be wearing a life jacket, as this can save their life in the case of an emergency.

What is the safest life jacket for a toddler?

When choosing a life jacket for a toddler, make sure to look at the weight and height requirements for the specific life jacket. You also want to ensure it is USCG approved to be used on a boat. The life jacket should have a grab handle attached at the back of the neck area, as well as a crotch strap that buckles between the legs.

The grab handle on the neck helps you scoop the child out of the water and the strap between the legs ensures they do not slip out of the life jacket. Additionally, having a brightly colored life jacket can help you see the child regardless of where they are. If they fall in the water wearing a neon color, you are easily able to see them and may have a faster response time due to this.

What is the safest life jacket for an infant?

Infants who are under 18 pounds are not recommended to ride on a boat, as life jackets are unable to fit snugly and properly on an infant who is smaller than this. Choosing a life jacket for an infant who is over this weight limit should be done by looking at the weight and height requirements. There should be a grab handle on the back of the neck, as well as a crotch strap between the legs for additional support. Always make sure it can fit snugly before going out on the boat.

It is important to read the manual and information on the life jacket and use it according to the directions. Any misuse can lead to issues, and even death when the child is wearing the jacket. In order to reduce the chances of this, using it as recommended is always required.

How do you put a life jacket on a child?

The life jacket should be put on the child, and then secured completely. The buckles should be fastened completely. Once this is done, you want to have them put their hands above their head. When they do this, gently tug up on the life jacket to see how far the jacket rides up. The life jacket should not go over the chin or the face at all. It should be snug against the body and not move when tugged from the top. A proper fitting life jacket should be comfortable to wear, but also tight enough to make sure they do not slip out and that it does hold them afloat in the water.

What is the difference between Type 2 and Type 3 life jackets?

Type 2 life jackets typically have a headrest and more flotation toward the front of the life jacket. This allows the vest to be more likely to turn a user face up. Type 3’s are standard life jackets that are typically more comfortable for continuous wear. Some boats and users are unable to use Type III life jackets for various reasons. Make sure to check the regulations for your area when considering which type to purchase.

What is the difference between a life jacket and a life vest?

Life jackets and life vests are typically referring to the same product. In addition to these terms, some people also call life jackets PFDs which stands for Personal Flotation Devices. What is more important in the USCG Type rating for the life jackets. This determines if the flotation device meets the needed safety and legal requirements for the location and application.

When a child’s lifejacket is not in use where should it be kept?

Life jackets should always be stored in cool, dark places. They should not sit in a moist area, or one that is in direct sunlight. Placing the life jacket in an area, or hanging it up, is ideal so that you don’t have to worry about something heavy crushing it. When something crushes the life jacket, this can reduce the effectiveness of the floatation device, making it harder to keep the user afloat.

Do Puddle Jumpers count as life jackets?

Puddle jumpers are recognized and approved through the Coast Guard as a Type III personal floatation device when they being worn. These are a mix between a life jacket, swim aid, and vest. They are usually worn by children, as they are more comfortable for them and they provide additional support, especially when they are trying to learn how to swim.

Can a child drown with a life jacket?

Sometimes a life jacket might not be enough to save a person who is wearing them. This is because other outside factors might make it so the person drowns easily. They may be caught in an entanglement or trapped in some way. They might also be unconscious and flip over to their stomach, which can put their face in the water, and this can cause them to breathe in the water. This is why it is important to make sure you have the appropriate life jacket, supervision, and practice proper boat safely practices.

Can kids wear inflatable life jackets?

Unfortunately, the inflatable life jackets that you can get for your boat are only approved for those who are over the age of 16. Children under the age of 16 are too small to use these inflatable life jackets.

What are the 5 different types of PFDs?

There are five different types of personal floatation devices that you can use while you are on a boat or other water vessels. A Type I jacket is for offshore use with self-righting ability. Type II are near-shore life jackets. A Type III life jackets is a floatation aid and is the most common type. Type IV are throwable devices or aids such as a boat cushion or throw ring. Finally, type V are special-use devices such as inflatable life jackets.

What PFD is recommended in rough waters?

High buoyancy Type I life jackets that are specifically designed for rough waters are typically best. Generally, commercial vessels would have this type of jacket for the event of an emergency offshore. In rough conditions, it is also important to have a strobe to allow rescue crews to be able to locate the person overboard more easily. A PLB or EPRIB is also very important to have to be found quickly in adverse conditions.

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What is the best brand of life jackets?

While it is up to personal opinion, the best brand of life jacket can differ depending on what you are looking for and the specific fit you need. Stearns and O’Neill tend to be top contenders when it comes to wearing something that provides support and protection. They are also very comfortable and come in a variety of styles, sizes, and colors.

Do babies have to wear life jackets on boats?

Babies do have to wear life jackets while on boats. Everyone has to have a PFD while they are riding on a boat. However, babies who are under 18 pounds should not be riding around in a boat, as there are not any life jackets approved to fit babies who are under this weight limit. Those who are above this limit have to have an approved life jacket on that also fits them properly.

Should a toddler wear a life jacket at the beach?

Any children under the age of 5 should wear a life jacket while near any body of water. Whether at the beach, on a dock, or anywhere else. The child should have the appropriate life jacket that provides the protection they need. This can ensure that the child is safe should they accidentally fall into the water. Kids also like swimming with life jackets and puddle jumpers at the beach.

When should I replace PFD or lifejacket?

A lifejacket does not come with a shelf life. However, if you alter or repair it, then it has to be discarded and replaced. The life jacket should be in good condition and well taken care of to prolong its use. Always look at the jacket for any damage that it might have sustained. If noticed, it should be replaced to ensure that the life jacket is still good for use.

When the Coast Guard inspects life jackets they typically look at the overall condition and squeeze the foam to see if crumbles or does not return to its original shape quickly. If the jacket is old and breaking down it might absorb water and not provide adequate flotation. For this reason, any life jacket with possible issues should be replaced.

Should I clean my life jacket?

Cleaning a life jacket is one of the biggest and most asked questions because you want to make sure it does not get mold on it. You want to protect the outside of the fabric, but also ensure that it is still going to do the job it was meant to do. It can be cleaned with the use of the right cleaning process.

It is recommended that you wipe the outside with a clean, damp cloth. Do not use any harsh cleaners on the outside of the vest, as this can break down the material and cause it not to be useable. Once you wipe it down, or even once you use it, make sure to let it dry completely before storing it away. You want to reduce the chances of having it collect any mold on the outside, as this can cause it to not be usable. Life jackets can also be cleaned by spraying them off with fresh water.

If I accidentally inflate my inflatable life jacket, do I need to replace it?

If an inflation style life jacket is inflated the life vest will not need to be replaced in most cases but the CO2 cylinder inside the jacket will. The C02 cylinder can be purchased separately and can be replaced by the user. It is important to inspect the vest to make sure that it is not damaged. In the event that the cylinder is empty but the life jacket needs to be used, it can still be inflated manually.

How old do I have to be to use an inflatable PFD?

Unfortunately, inflatable PFDs are not rated for smaller children to wear or use. You have to make sure to be at least 16 years of age or older to use these. Those who are younger than this are not able to use them. This is not going to be a good floatation device if the person is not able to use it or if it does not fit them correctly.

Is there a difference between men’s and women’s life jackets?

There is a difference between men’s and women’s in some life jacket brands. It is important to try them on before you purchase them to make sure they are going to fit ideally to the body. Some of the unisex options come with weight limits or body types so that you can more comfortably fit them to your body. This is ideal when you want to make sure you have a floatation device that is going to provide you with the protection you need.

Do I need a special life jacket if I am pregnant?

There are no specific or specially made life jackets that are for pregnant women. It is advised that you choose a life jacket that is one or two sizes too big for you. Once you do this, you will find that it is able to fit around the mid-section that you have, but also that is comfortable and can keep you afloat if you do go overboard while on the water vessel.

Does a child need to wear a life jacket at all times while on a boat?

If they are on a moving boat, then yes, they have to wear a life jacket at all times. Those who are under the age of 13 generally have to abide by this rule because it is essential that they are kept safe while riding around. However, it is important to note that every state has different rules for the situation, so make sure to check the regulation in your area. Even if it is not required it is a good idea for kids and adults to always wear their life jackets while on a boat.

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