A successful journalist and news reporter in the past, George is now focused on freelance work to be able to dedicate more time to the most important things in his life: family, friends, his dogs, and fishing.
John is an avid traveler, hiker, and RVer. Moreover, it seems like he knows everything when it comes to fishing and hunting: his father started sharing all the tips and tricks he knew when John was a kid.
Last updated: June 26, 2022
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Your children’s safety in the water is always of the utmost importance. When they are playing by the water, and you can’t keep a constant eye on them, then you want your kids to have the best infant life jackets. These products will keep your baby’s head out of the water while also allowing them to feel comfortable. With many options out there, it can be hard to know which one is going to be the right choice for you.
Thankfully, we’ve done all the hard work for you and compared more than 40 different models out there. We’ve narrowed it down to the 10 best infant life jackets. In our search, we found the Stohlquist Toddler Life Jacket to be the best in its class. It has excellent neck support while offering a snug and comfortable fit. It may be that the other life jacket may be more suitable for your infant, which is why we’ve also reviewed 9 other brilliant models.
To create this list, we’ve analyzed how these products performed and checked the key factors such as size, color, material, weight, buoyancy while also looking at comfort and security. Along with the countless hours spent on our extensive reviews, we’ve also consulted several experts in writing our in-depth buying guide. We’ve put this all together to help you make an informed decision. By the end, you’ll know how to get the best infant life jacket for your child.
Stohlquist is well-known for its high-quality, and they show it again here with the best infant life jacket around. Not only is it great, but it’s available in a wide number of colors to get exactly what your little one wants.
The infant life vest is very comfortable to give a close and snug fit that will prevent any slipping. The zipper can rub a little bit but can be easily adjusted out of the way. The quick-release buckle and wide zip make it very easy to access and put on.
The safety features that we see here are brilliant with excellent neck support that will allow your kid to be face-up at all times. Along with this, it has a large grab strap for if you need to pull your child out of the water. Overall, the life jacket has an excellent level of quality, and, most importantly, it will keep your infant safe.
More features: adjustable chest belt, a zipper and an adjustable leg strap, rescue handle, webbed straps
This Stearns infant life jacket is another one that has impressive qualities. The overall construction is excellent with great durability. It also has a high level of neck support to keep your children facing upright and protected.
Some users have reported some sizing issues, and therefore, it’s important to double-check that it’s right for your baby, as it can be a little too snug for some. The benefit to that is the life jacket isn’t going to slip. This item will stay firmly in place even during the active games.
It has a high level of buoyancy, and it will get your child in the perfect position should they end up in the water. There are two color options available that aren’t too bright but can still be easily spotted once it’s in the water.
More features: ventilated mesh back, grab strap, mobility-shaped panels, segmented head pillow, designed for coastal and offshore boating activities, reflective accents
Mustang Survival has created a premium life jacket that takes on a unique appearance that many kids are going to love. That look also serves a great purpose as it can be easily spotted in the water, which is helped by the reflective accents on it.
If you live in a hot climate, then you’ll be happy to know that this can keep the baby very cool with its ventilated mesh back. It’s a part of what gives it such a comfortable fit, which is also aided by the segmented head panels.
It allows for a high level of mobility to let your infant move freely, which helps them stay in the life jacket with a minimum amount of fuss. It’s another impressive jacket and one that looks great, but the colors can fade over time.
More features: winner of the CASB, adjustable mesh and webbing harness system, three-piece collar design with additional flotation on sides
Here we see a jacket that looks a little different due to how breathable it is. It’s the best life jacket for a small infant for a hot climate, which also comes with a range of cute designs that will look great.
It competes strongly for the title of best infant life jacket for boating due to its lightweight feel and perfect support. It can be a little tricky to put on at the start, but once you’ve got used to it, then you’ll find it to be quite easy to use.
What you do get is easy access to your baby should they get in trouble. This includes a wide grab strap. Your baby is going to be quite settled in the infant life jacket that will allow you to spend all day by the water with no issues.
More features: quick-release Delrin buckles, head panel, adjusts between the legs, heavy-duty front zipper
O’Neill has made an excellent life jacket that is going to be perfect for those small babies. It is one of the best life jackets for infants as it helps to create a tight and snug fit for all-day comfort.
It’s not going to ride up too much, and that is helped by the crotch strap. If the baby gets in the water, then they’re going to be automatically flipped onto their back, and their airways kept out of the water. It gives you an excellent level of safety and confidence.
Added to that safety, it is available in the bright colors that will help it to be more noticeable. One aspect that you find straight away is the quality of the construction. It’s not going to let you down, and it will allow your kid to have some wonderful days out. Unfortunately, this model is too small for older kids.
More features: zipper closure with two adjustable belts and crotch strap, UV and stain-resistant
If you’re looking for the best infant life vest that will stand out in the water, then this would be a great choice due to its bright pink color. On top of that, it has a very large headrest that will give your baby plenty of support.
It’s the best baby life jacket for ease of use as it’s very easy to put on and make it secure. As some users have said it runs a little small, so it’s worth checking that it’s going to be the right size for your little one.
The comfort level of this life jacket is very high, which is partly due to the soft material. It’s aided by the quick-drying material, which allows your baby to stay happy. It’s brilliantly light despite having a high level of durability to cope with the challenging outdoor environment.
More features: elasticized fabric leg strap, convenient buckle opening, grab strap, oversized collar for better support
This Full Throttle infant life jacket takes on a unique look due to its side buckle. It makes it very easy to put on as you can just slip it around the neck of your child and clip it in. The jacket can push up on their chin a little bit, but it won’t bother them too much if you adjust it properly.
If you’re looking for the highest level of head support, then you’ll love this with its oversized collar that gives it immense buoyancy. It’s going to give you peace of mind that your kids will never be in trouble should they get into the water.
The bright design will allow you to easily spot it in the water, and it looks great too. Comfort was the main priority for the manufacturer here, which was provided with the soft material and also the elastic fabric. It won’t be awkward for your kids to wear it while also making sure that it doesn’t slip off.
More features: grab strap, adjustable belts and leg strap, buckle system, foam collar for additional support, UV-resistant
We’ve noted a few of these light jackets as having a bright design, but with the bold yellow at the top of this jacket, this one stands out vividly against the water. That yellow headrest gives your kids amazing support and keeps their heads in a comfortable position.
It’s easily adjustable, which should allow you to get the exact fit that you’re looking for. It can seem a little bulky, but that should give you confidence in the level of buoyancy it has. With that bulkiness, you also get plenty of durability, which is ideal for those who are always worried about the quality of the product.
There are several great safety features here with the crotch strap, three secure buckles, and also the large grab strap. It’s a great life jacket, but one that is going to be a little too big for babies under 15lbs. Still, it is perfect for any over that size.
More features: buckle system, heads-up design, grab strap
The expandable design of this life jacket makes it great for tiny babies that weigh up to 30 lbs. This model can be adjusted as your kids grow up, ensuring a perfect fit to make them feel comfortable.
The blue of the life jacket doesn’t stick out too much in the water, but this shouldn’t be a big problem if the kids will be close to you at all times. There aren’t any other color options available, but it’s quite a nice design.
It’s made of durable nylon material with a heads-up design that is going to keep their heads out of the water. The crotch strap is also very secure, and it will prevent any slipping. It’s a wonderful infant life jacket and one that is quite easy to put on.
More features: 2 belts, 2 leg loop straps, zip closure
Having a neoprene infant life jacket has many positives as it’s one of the best materials out there for various water activities. It’s lightweight, has a level of natural stretch, is soft on the skin, and also waterproof.
It helps to give this a supreme level of comfort that you don’t find with many other models. Along with that, comfort is a high level of safety as it has a large headrest and a grab strap, which makes it easy to pull out of the water.
It’s going to be very snug and secure with the two leg straps. Additionally, it does have four buckles and a zip. It can take a little while to put on, which can be made worse if you have a particularly wriggly baby.
Why are we impressed?
Double leg straps
What negatives must you be aware of?
Can take a while to put on
Things to Consider
As we’ve just seen, there are many great infant life jackets out there, and it can be hard to know which one is going to be best for your baby. That’s why we’ve made this buying guide to give you all of the information that you need. We’ll explain what the key features to look at are and why they are important to you. It’s a great idea to check back on this section if you do have any doubts.
Reasons to purchase a baby life jacket
There are many reasons why wearing a life jacket is a good idea for anyone. Even if you don’t want to go into the water, you never know what can happen. Boating accidents are common, and you’ll want to ensure that you and your family are protected. It isn’t just about protecting yourself from bad weather either as things can go wrong at any time on the water.
You may think that your baby would be fine as you’d be there with them. That line of thinking doesn’t take into account if you get injured, or something happens to separate you. Life jackets can also help to keep a baby warm if they do end up in the water.
All of the life jackets that we have looked at here have a very high level of effectiveness. They will turn your baby onto its back and keep their airways out of the water. This design makes it very easy for you to swim with them back to the shore, for example.
How to pick the best infant life jacket?
The choice of the infant jacket for your little one is going to depend on what key features are more important to you. As we go through the list here, it’s a good idea to make a note of how each factor relates to you. Getting the right size is crucial, but other considerations, such as buoyancy and comfort are important as well. The answer is going to be different for everyone, and you need one that suits your baby.
There are five different types of life jackets. Type I jackets are very bulky and designed for rough seas, whereas Type IV are throwable ones, and Type V are specialized for the likes of watersports. That leaves II and III.
Type II – These are designed to keep your baby face-up, but are created for calmer waters compared to Type 1 devices. They are still quite bulky but give a lot of support.
Type III – Generally, these are more comfortable to wear, but don’t quite have the same level of support as Type II. They still have plenty of buoyancy and are designed to keep your kid face-up.
It’s also important to check if the life jacket is US Coast Guard (USCG) certified. This is the gold standard to ensure you are getting a life jacket that will work every time. Without this certification, you can’t be sure of the quality of the product.
Getting the right size is the most important thing. If it doesn’t fit quite right, then it’s going to be dangerous as it will either be too uncomfortable or will move around too much. We’ve noticed that some life jackets are a lot better for smaller babies, such as the O’Neill Infant Superlite USCG Life Vest.
It’s important that you follow the guidance weights closely as that’s what they have been designed for. Most of these products, such as the Full Throttle Infant Vest, are rated up to 30lbs, which would fit them until they are about two years old. The best infant life jackets work well for kids from a couple of months old to a couple of years old and provide them with the necessary support.
Color and design
The life jackets that we have looked at here can vary quite a lot in color and design. If you’re worried about spotting your baby in the water, then it’s a good idea to get a brightly colored life jacket, such as the Airhead Infant’s General Purpose Life Vest.
You’ll also see that some jackets have buckles, some have zips, and others have both. A lot of this will come down to personal preference, as although a lot of closure mechanisms can look secure, it can make it harder to put on and fit.
All these life jackets have proven effectiveness and offer a similar level of support, despite their different designs. One thing to note, however, is that if you’re in a warm climate, then you may want one with more mesh and breathability and vice versa if you’re in a cold area.
A few different materials can be used for the lining of these life jackets. Oxford cloth, nylon, and polyester are all materials that have similar qualities as they are durable, water-resistant, quick-drying, and make a good casing for the lightweight foam inside.
Neoprene, as we can see in the RAVE Sports Infant Neoprene Life Vest, can also be seen as a great material as it has all those qualities we looked at above while also being quite soft, lightweight, and comfortable on the skin. It is generally more expensive, which is why you don’t see it on all jackets.
More important than the materials used is the overall build quality. It has to have that long-term durability so that you can always rely on it.
While safety is the number one consideration for an infant life jacket, if it’s not comfortable, then you are going to have a crying baby on your hands all day. We carefully selected 10 models here that are quite light, but there are some differences between them.
If you were looking for the lightest model around, then you’d do a lot worse than opting for the Full Throttle Infant Vest, which weighs just 9.4 oz. As your child grows, the weight of the life jacket is going to be less important as they’ll be stronger.
If you have a particularly small or slender baby, getting a jacket on the lower end of the weight scale might be the best idea.
Extra safety features
It’s always nice to have a few extra safety features, and here we take a look at some that you can find.
Grab handle – This is extremely useful in being able to pull your baby out of the water quickly and easily.
Back buckle – Do you have a kid that just won’t stop messing with things? If so, a back buckle can be great as you don’t have to worry about them undoing it.
Extra straps – Some life jackets look a little like overkill with their amount of closure systems, but again they can be ideal for kids who have a habit of loosening them.
Crotch strap – These straps are important for kids as they have a greater risk of the life jacket slipping off. They look uncomfortable, but they aren’t. Instead, this is a vital safety feature to keep the life jacket in place.
While you want the highest levels of safety for your child, you will also have to consider your budget. At $150, the Mustang Survival Lil’ Legends 100 Flotation Vest is the most expensive life jacket on this list due to its supreme build quality and materials.
Not these types of life jackets. There are many flotation devices out there that can aid them in a swimming pool, but these devices are designed for open waters. All of the ones on this list are designed to put a child on their back. While Type I, II, and III life jackets aren’t good for learning to swim, they can be good for letting your kid have fun near the water. For actual swimming, however, these life jackets are not that great. These are simply designed for keeping their airways out of the water, and it would be difficult to learn to swim in them.
The answer to this will vary from one brand to the next. We have carefully chosen 10 models here that ranked very highly in build quality. Your infant will be able to use one for around two years, but they will go well beyond that in terms of longevity. It’s always a good idea to get a baby life jacket from a reputable supplier and ensure it’s backed by good reviews. You don’t want stitching, buckles or zips to fail when you’re out on the water. If you pick any of the life jackets we have reviewed here, it’ll be able to last for way beyond two years.
Unsurprisingly, life jackets were meant to cope with the wet and are able to dry fairly quickly. That being said, you keep it in the dark shed after a day out, then it’s not going to dry for a long time. If you do want to dry it quickly, then it’s going to leave it outside. That simply involves you hanging it up and letting it dry on its own, which it will do quickly enough. Please note that other methods can damage it. If your life jacket doesn’t have a lot of UV protection, then it’s also a good idea not to keep it in direct sunlight for too long.
By now you should have a good idea of what you should be looking for.
All of these models that we’ve just reviewed are brilliant to keep your children safe when they’re out on the water. All that’s left to do is choose the best infant life jacket and enjoy the peace of mind you’ll get from them getting one for your kid.