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.
Reflectors – It’s not very likely that your infant will be in the water when the light is fading, but if they are, having reflectors, as seen on the Mustang Survival Lil’ Legends 100 Flotation Vest, it can make them more visible.
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.
At around $50, the Stohlquist Toddler Life Jacket and Airhead WICKED Kwik-Dry Neolite Flex Life Vest are both exceptional models that look great and give a huge level of head support.
The Stearns Infant Classic Series Vest and the Airhead Infant’s General Purpose Life Vest may be at the bottom of the price range at around $20, but they are still USCG certified Type II jackets. That means you can have a lot of confidence in their build quality and performance.