7 Best Infant Life Jackets of 2022

Asian mother and adorable little toddler boy with life vest having fun in a swimming pool.

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  • Type II life jackets are designed to keep an unconscious person face up in the water.
  • To ensure you get an infant life jacket that meets all safety standards, be sure it’s USCG-approved.
  • Infant life jackets should always include a neck collar for head and neck support.

When it comes to your child’s safety, there is nothing more important. This is why many parents use extreme caution when introducing their little ones to the water. 

Drowning is the second leading cause of death in children. Swimming pools and other bodies of water are often attractive to children. For this reason, parents should teach their children about water safety and be sure to have an infant life jacket on hand for little ones.

However, don’t be afraid to introduce your child to the water. After all, the benefits are numerous. In fact, many children have benefited from aquatherapy for muscle strength and flexibility. 

Always follow safety guidelines to prevent accidents. The US Coast Guard recommends all infants under 33 lbs wear a type II jacket in or around the water. These life jackets are the safest for infants and have passed every testing standard for safety. 

Wondering what a type II jacket is? Overwhelmed with the options of infant life jackets online? Don’t worry, we have you covered! 

We’ll give you all the important details you need. We’ll also narrow down the search and provide you with the 7 best infant life jackets of 2022

Best Head and Neck Support
Stohlquist Infant PFD Life Jacket - Yellow + Blue, 8-30 lbs - Coast Guard Approved Life Vest for Toddlers, Support Collar, Grab Handle, Fully Adjustable with Quick Release Buckle (Yellow/Blue)
Best Lightweight
O'Neill Infant Superlite USCG Life Vest,Pacific/Yellow/Black:Yellow,1sz
Best Zipper-Free
Oceans7 US Coast Guard Approved Infant Life Jacket 8-30 lbs – Type II PFD Flex-Form Chest Personal Flotation Device, Pink/Berry
Stohlquist Infant PFD Life Jacket
O’Neill Infant Superlite USCG Life Vest
Oceans7 US Coast Guard Approved Infant Life Jacket
$52.80
$38.39
$36.99
Best Head and Neck Support
Stohlquist Infant PFD Life Jacket - Yellow + Blue, 8-30 lbs - Coast Guard Approved Life Vest for Toddlers, Support Collar, Grab Handle, Fully Adjustable with Quick Release Buckle (Yellow/Blue)
Stohlquist Infant PFD Life Jacket
$52.80
Best Lightweight
O'Neill Infant Superlite USCG Life Vest,Pacific/Yellow/Black:Yellow,1sz
O’Neill Infant Superlite USCG Life Vest
$38.39
Best Zipper-Free
Oceans7 US Coast Guard Approved Infant Life Jacket 8-30 lbs – Type II PFD Flex-Form Chest Personal Flotation Device, Pink/Berry
Oceans7 US Coast Guard Approved Infant Life Jacket
$36.99

What to Look for in an Infant Life Jacket

Your child’s safety is your number one concern. When it comes to life jackets, you’ll want to make sure you get a jacket specifically designed for their size. It’s also important to make sure the life jacket you choose includes certain safety features. 

Here are a few specifications you’ll want to make sure your life jacket meets:

Designed to flip your child to their back.

Baby life jackets are designed to keep children afloat until help arrives. Babies aren’t strong enough to hold themselves upright in the water. This is why it’s important that the life jacket does this for them. 

A safe life jacket is designed so your baby turns face up when in the water. A face-down position would be dangerous, especially if the child was unconscious. 

Includes a grab strap near the flotation collar. 

Your baby’s life jacket should include a grab strap for easy removal from the water. This strap is usually located near the flotation collar. It’s often a loop that you can easily fit your hand into. 

The purpose of the grab strap is to help you quickly grab your child from the water in an emergency. If you’re leaning over the side of a boat, for example, it would be hard to grab the vest itself or reach your child’s limbs. The loop is easy to spot and will allow you to pull your child to safety. 

Includes a strap between your child’s legs. 

A child’s life vest will naturally rise when placed in the water. This often results in the vest sitting uncomfortably around the child’s neck. However, a crotch strap prevents this from happening and ensures a secure fit for your child. 

A crotch strap is a strap and buckle with a snug fit between your child’s legs that attaches to the front and back of the life vest. This strap keeps the vest from riding up as your child floats in the water. 

Not only does the crotch strap keep your child comfortable, but it also prevents your child from slipping out of the vest. Without the strap, it’s possible your child’s arms and head could escape the vest in an accident. Even if you’re pulling your child out of the water by the grab strap, they won’t slip with the crotch strap in place.  

Father and baby water life vest at the beach

US Coast Guard approved. 

Your baby’s safety is never something to risk. When it comes to water safety, no one is more knowledgeable than the US Coast Guard. To ensure you get an infant life jacket that meets all safety standards, be sure it’s USCG-approved. 

Also, you might receive a ticket if you’re caught boating without a USCG-approved vest. It’s not worth the risk to you or your child. 

Is designed for your baby’s weight. 

Pay close attention to the weight limits on the life jackets as you shop. These weight limits have been tested and should not be ignored. If the infant life jacket you choose is too small for your child, they’ll also be uncomfortable. 

Includes a flotation collar.

The best infant life jackets always consider how to provide head and neck support to your baby. Infant life jackets should always include a neck collar for head and neck support. The neck collar will keep your baby’s head afloat when in the water.  

What are the different types of life jackets?

The US Coast Guard has created categories that describe different types of life jackets or flotation devices available. These include: 

  • Type I: This is a bulky vest used primarily for offshore excursions. These provide maximum buoyancy, at over 20 lbs. These vests are designed to keep an unconscious person face up in the water. 
  • Type II: This vest is a favorite among boaters who stay near the shore. They are somewhat bulky and provide at least 15.5 lbs of buoyancy. These life jackets are also designed to keep an unconscious person face up in the water, but are slightly less reliable than a type I. 
  • Type III: These provide at least 15.5 lbs of buoyancy but are less bulky than type II life jackets. They often have a front zipper and buckle and are referred to as ski jackets. These life jackets are only meant to keep conscious people afloat until help arrives.
  • Type IV: This category includes flotation devices, not life jackets. A type IV flotation device is only meant to be held onto and provide at least 16.5 lbs of buoyancy. 
  • Types V: These vests are specialty personal flotation devices. They might be combined with vests or harnesses and used for specific activities like white water rafting. 

Best Classic: Stearns Infant Classic Series Vest 

Stearns Infant Classic Series Vest
  • US Coast Guard-approved toddler life jacket
  • Great for introducing little swimmers to the water
  • Durable nylon shell with PE flotation foam
  • Leg strap and grab handle for extra safety and security

Our first pick for the best infant life jacket is from a brand known for their high-quality water recreation products. This classic infant life jacket is no exception to their reputation for quality. The Stearns Infant Classic Series Vest is the perfect life jacket for those looking to spend less but not sacrifice on durability. 

Let’s start by saying that this life jacket is US coast guard approved. This means your child won’t be left floating face down in the water in an emergency. It is, of course, always recommended that you practice with this life vest first so your child gets the feel of floating on their back. 

The entire life jacket is made with polyethylene flotation foam and a durable nylon shell. It comes in a bright red color which is perfect for either gender.  

If this life jacket hits too high on your child’s neck, you can tighten the leg strap. It also includes a zipper front and adjustable chest belt to allow you to get the right fit for your baby. The grab handle is located on the neck collar for convenience. 

Some parents noted that this vest is a bit bulky, but that is common with type II life vests. The affordable price still makes this a great choice.

Best Zipper-Free: Oceans7 US Coast Guard Approved Infant Life Jacket

Oceans7 US Coast Guard Approved Infant Life Jacket
  • US COAST GUARD APPROVED LIFE VEST: Passes highest USCG standards and testing; USCG Approved Life Jackets are labeled for infant, child or youth by weight range.
  • USCG-approved sizing: Infant-size PFD for use with infants that weigh 8-30 pounds; actual comfort, fit and sizing will vary; If weight is over 25 pounds, try child size; life vest should not rise above the child’s head when securely fastened
  • Open-side design: PFD has 3 adjustable straps and an open-sided design for a comfortable fit; new chest straps lengthened for maximum size and fit range
  • Universal use: Durable Nylon construction and thick EPE floatation foam makes this PFD great as a swimming life jacket, or for general boating activities

If you’re looking for a life jacket that doesn’t use a zipper, this next one is for you. Some parents prefer to avoid the zipper for convenience or to keep from accidentally pinching their child’s skin. The Oceans7 US Coast Guard Approved Infant Life Jacket is a snug jacket that only uses buckles.

Most life jackets for babies have a zip-up front with an adjustable chest strap. On this life vest, you’ll notice two adjustable chest straps instead. With these two straps, you’ll be able to get just as secure of a fit as you would with a zipper front. 

The vest comes in a choice of colors including a bright pink or bright blue. The life jacket is constructed with expanded polyethylene flotation foam and a nylon cover. It has also met all requirements to be certified by the US Coast Guard. 

The convenient grab strap is located on the oversized head support collar. The leg strap will provide extra support as you pull your child to safety.  

Most Fun: Airhead Treasure Life Vest

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Airhead Treasure Life Vest
  • Fits Infants less than 30 Pounds
  • Closed Sided vest with ocean inspired graphics
  • Front Zipper with waist belt and crotch strap included for safety
  • USCG Approved Type II

We know that life vests aren’t necessarily created for fun, but for safety. However, if you can get a life vest that includes both, why not! The Airhead Treasure Life Vest features a design your child will love and the safety you need. 

Your little one will love to look at the fun animals and ocean scene printed all around the outside of this life jacket. It also comes in your choice of pink or blue. You won’t have to worry about the fabric fading as it is UV and stain-resistant.

The US Coast Guard-approved life jacket features a zip-up front, rescue handle, chest belt, and leg strap. It also has a closed-sided design for extra security. 

This is designed for infants from 15-30 lbs, so it might not work if your little one weighs less than that. There are other vests on our list that start at a lower weight range if that’s the case for you. 

Best V-Shaped: Full Throttle Infant Baby-Safe Vest

Sale
Full Throttle Infant Baby-Safe Vest
  • Oversized collar for improved head support
  • Convenient buckle opening at collar makes it easy to put on
  • Elasticized fabric leg strap for added comfort
  • Convenient grab strap for easy recovery

Some parents prefer v-shaped infant life jackets. These jackets provide one seamless vest that includes a strap between the child’s legs. The Full Throttle Infant Baby-Safe Vest is an excellent choice in this category. 

This vest is coast guard approved and features an elasticized fabric leg strap that extends from the front of the vest. Some parents prefer this option because it’s more comfortable than a nylon strap. It also includes a rescue handle at the top of the head support. 

There are only two buckles on this life jacket. One of the buckles secures around the child’s chest. The other attaches the head support to the vest and is also the entry point for the life jacket. 

Some parents noted that this life jacket Isn’t as comfortable as your child grows. However, the weight range is from 0 to 30 lbs. If your child is at the smaller end, it should fit comfortably for a while. 

Best Head and Neck Support: Stohlquist Infant PFD Life Jacket

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Stohlquist Infant PFD Life Jacket
  • FEEL COMFORTABLE IN THE WATER – Made of soft foam for maximum comfort, this child personal floatation device comes with a convenient grab collar for easy retrieval. The head support collar offers the security for them to play and be happy in the water
  • BUCKLE UP – The single quick release front buckle provides added security and even has an adjustable crotch strap to fit any size. You’ll notice the durability of this infant life vest from the box stitched buckle attachment that’ll have you using this for years to come
  • FEEL THE MOVEMENT – Life vests can be irritating for children. That’s why we’ve made sure to design this infant PFD with full arm mobility so you can enjoy watching them play and swim
  • SAFETY FIRST – Floating in a calm, “face-up” position is not something that comes naturally to children. Before going boating, teach your child how to float safely in a pool or shallow water where the child cannot touch bottom

Extra head support is an important feature of life jackets for babies. We love that the Stohlquist Infant PFD Life Jacket features a double head support collar. 

The oversized collar on this life jacket has a double layer. This means your baby’s head and neck will be adequately supported in the water. This is especially important for infants who don’t have strong neck muscles yet. 

Your child will also have a greater range of motion in this vest, as the arm holes are large and open. The foam used is also softer than most, making this a comfortable fit. The grab handle, leg strap, and chest buckle can all be adjusted to fit your child. 

The weight range for this USCG-approved life jacket is from 8 to 30 lbs. This makes it a great choice for smaller babies. 

Stohlquist also stands by their products. They provide a limited lifetime warranty for their infant life jackets should there be any manufacturing defects. 

Best Quick-Dry: Airhead WICKED Kwik-Dry Neolite Flex Life Vest 

Sale
Airhead WICKED Kwik-Dry Neolite Flex Life Vest 
  • US Coast Guard Approved: This personal flotation device meets USCG requirements. Less bulky design for use when quick response is likely and offers a larger range of motion
  • Closed Sided: Offers a tighter and more secure fit to keep your life vest in place. Designed for personal watercrafts and general boating safety
  • Buckles & Zipper: Side release buckles open and close quickly while the zipper is easy and quick to fasten to ensure safety and security on the water. Infant life jacket features a foam collar for additional head and neck support along with a crotch strap for added safety
  • Material: Quick-drying and super soft. This fabric keeps you comfortable and dry all day long

If you’ve ever had to convince a little one to put on a wet life vest, then you’ll appreciate our next pick. The Airhead WICKED Kwik-Dry Neolite Flex Life Vest is a quick-dry vest that is sure to save you some meltdowns. 

This infant life vest is designed with closed-cell PVC foam and durable nylon. The materials used for this life jacket dry faster than most life jackets for babies. The foam is also softer and more flexible than most.

This life jacket has been approved by the USCG for safety. It includes quick-release buckles across the child’s chest and between the child’s legs. The rescue handle attaches to the head collar for an easy grab. 

It’s important to note that this vest is specially designed for infants from 15 to 30 lbs. So this isn’t the best choice for smaller infants. 

Best Lightweight: O’Neill Infant Superlite USCG Life Vest

O’Neill Infant Superlite USCG Life Vest
  • U.S. Coast Guard Approved Personal Flotation Device (Type II)Designed to fit snug for your safety.
  • Minimal bulk design allows full mobility and easy on and off.
  • Anatomically cut lightweight polyethylene foam flotation with durable coated polyester outer shell makes the vest strong yet soft and comfortable.
  • Heavy-duty 1 inch wide webbing belts with quick release buckles allow for an adjustable fit and easy fastening

Our final pick is a vest that provides lightweight security for little ones. The O’Neill Infant Superlite USCG Life Vest is the perfect choice for a vest that won’t weigh your child down.

Made with nylon and lightweight foam, this infant life jacket cuts down on bulk. Your baby will have more mobility and comfort when they wear this jacket. It even includes mesh material for easy drainage. 

The zipper front, double chest straps, and leg strap make this a secure USCG-approved jacket. The neck collar with grab strap is wide and will adequately support your baby’s head. 

You have two choices of designs including pink and teal or blue and yellow. This is also a great choice for small babies as the weight range starts at 0 lbs and goes all the way up to 30 lbs.   

Final Verdict

Sale
Stohlquist Infant PFD Life Jacket
  • FEEL COMFORTABLE IN THE WATER – Made of soft foam for maximum comfort, this child personal floatation device comes with a convenient grab collar for easy retrieval. The head support collar offers the security for them to play and be happy in the water
  • BUCKLE UP – The single quick release front buckle provides added security and even has an adjustable crotch strap to fit any size. You’ll notice the durability of this infant life vest from the box stitched buckle attachment that’ll have you using this for years to come
  • FEEL THE MOVEMENT – Life vests can be irritating for children. That’s why we’ve made sure to design this infant PFD with full arm mobility so you can enjoy watching them play and swim
  • SAFETY FIRST – Floating in a calm, “face-up” position is not something that comes naturally to children. Before going boating, teach your child how to float safely in a pool or shallow water where the child cannot touch bottom

After reviewing all the best infant life jackets, our top pick is the Stohlquist Infant PFD Life Jacket. Here’s why this is our top choice: 

Comfort. Stohlquist designed this vest to be extra comfortable for little ones. Parents of infants and toddlers can always appreciate that. 

Safety. This vest checks all our safety boxes. It’s USCG-approved, includes ample head support, and has all the straps needed for a secure fit.

Warranty. When a brand stands by their products and offers a lifetime warranty, you know they aim for quality. This is reassuring when you invest in a life jacket for your infant. 

Recommended Accessories

Headed to the water? Before you pack your bag with all the water or beach essentials for baby, take a look at these recommendations. Use these to introduce your baby to the water under your supervision:

FAQs

Are infant life jackets and swim vests the same thing? 

Despite their similar appearance and name, these two are very different in function. An infant life jacket is a life-saving device meant to keep your baby’s face turned up as they float on their back. These life jackets undergo testing and must pass rigid certifications. 

A swimming vest is a lightweight neoprene jacket that isn’t US Coast Guard approved. These vests are only meant to help your child float in a swimming pool while under adult supervision. Your child will still need to balance to keep their head upright.  

What’s the youngest age that a baby can learn how to swim?

There are many options for infant swimming lessons. Today, babies start swimming lessons as young as 4 months old. These swim lessons often focus on survival skills like turning face-up, kicking, and floating.

Best Infant Life Jackets

The information WonderBaby provides is not intended to be, and does not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. Always consult with a qualified medical professional about your specific circumstances.


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