We’re getting closer and closer to the post-COVID summer, and everybody is going to want to be social and enjoying the beautiful weather. One of the best ways to do that is by getting out on the water in some kind of boat. But, as they say, “Safety first.” You’ll want to have a life jacket with you when you’re enjoying the ocean breeze. This, of course, goes double if you’re bringing an infant along with you’ll. You’ll need to be absolutely sure that you have the perfect infant life jacket for the apple of your eye to enjoy the water as much as you do. That’s why we’ve made this list, and soon you’ll be able to get your baby started on a lifetime of aqua-based fun.
Carry on reading to see our full list of the best infant life jackets, followed by a recap breaking down what makes each product on our list stand out. Or jump straight to our number #1 pick on Amazon here.
What Should You Look For in an Infant Life Jacket?
Don’t know what to look for in your infant life jacket? No problem – that’s pretty understandable considering it’s not exactly an item on most people’s weekly shopping list. It’s our job to teach you what separates the good from the bad, because that’s the most important part of any shopping endeavor. That’s why we’ve added this simple rubric to our list that explains the most important traits to look for in your baby’s life jacket. Keep reading to get all of the need-to-know information before you purchase.
Criteria #1: Buoyancy – We hope your baby’s life vest remains a safety precaution, but accidents happen, and we want your life vest to do its job. Very simply, buoyancy is how much weight a life jacket can keep afloat. Obviously, since your baby is, well, a baby, the buoyancy weight won’t need to be too high, so our first criterion will also be the easiest to meet.
Criteria #2: Security – Iknow how difficult it can be to keep a baby in any article of clothing. Getting them into it in the first place isn’t so easy either, and we want to make sure that’s a quick and simple one-time job. The best infant life jackets will be quick to put on and difficult for your bundle of joy to wiggle their way out of. You have enough on your plate without an unexpected runaway.
Criteria #3: Design – Admittedly, there will be some overlap between the “security” criterion and the “design” criterion. A well-designed infant life jacket is both easy to put on and difficult to (accidentally) take off. Of course, there’s more to it than that. A well-designed life vest is also easily adjustable, easy to clean, and will have certain supplementary safety mechanisms. We want your baby to have the Swiss army knife of life jackets.
Criteria #4: Price – We’re not here to make you spend a ton of money for no reason. Meeting this criterion is less about being cheap and more about justifying your price. We’d rather buy an expensive product that’s cheaper than it should be than waste money on a cheaper product that isn’t worth the money and that will just break on you or not perform well. Luckily, infant life jackets will naturally be much cheaper than their adult counterparts, so you shouldn’t expect to spend too much money. Of course, if you want to splurge for the best, that’s fair too.
Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Infant Life Jackets
We measured the specs of the top products on the market against our listed criteria to see how they held up and if they’re worth buying. We then checked customer reviews, blog posts, and “best infant life jackets” articles to see if the products on our list performed as advertised. We’ll also make sure to include a wide variety of products that covers different niches and price points. This way, everyone can find the perfect product that will satisfy their needs and their budget.
And without further ado, here is our list – tailored to your specific needs – of the best infant life jackets.
#1: Stohlquist Toddler Life Jacket (Best Value – All-Purpose)
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When it comes to life jackets, Stohlquist is one of the biggest names for both children and adults. That’s why it should come as no surprise to see the Stohlquist Toddler Life Jacket top off our list. The Stohlquist Toddler Life Jacket is a regulation type II PFD that features a comfortable nylon shell and a zipper reinforced by a quick-release buckle. This means that it’ll be easy to squeeze your baby into this infant life jacket, and there’s a backup lock if they manage to damage or break the first one.
As a type II life jacket, the Stohlquist Toddler Life Jacket has a buoyancy weight of about 7 pounds, which means it’s suitable for children up to 30 pounds. That may sound confusing, but we’ll explain it all later.
Our top-ranked infant life jacket also has a wide neck hole that provides greater comfort, and it boasts a padded collar that will support a young baby’s head and neck. The Stohlquist Toddler Life Jacket is also Coat Guard-approved, and it’s completely adjustable, so you can make sure it’s suitable for your baby’s needs.
The Stohlquist Toddler Life Jacket is a competitively-priced product that has earned the love of both the average customer and the professional reviewer. In addition to being featured on multiple lists of the best life jackets for infants, this life vest has been reviewed more than 1,000 times on Amazon. It’s been praised for its comfortable design, the secure zipper and buckle, and the functional padded collar. It also features a V-neck design that will prevent the life vest from riding up into your baby’s face.
This combination of price and performance is pretty hard to beat, and that’s why the Stohlquist Toddler Life Jacket is the best value on the market. It’s also our choice for the best infant life jacket.
#2: Mustang Survival Lil’ Legends Infant Life Vest (Best Overall Infant Life Jacket)
The best part about infant life jackets being so affordable is that it gives you more flexibility to splurge a little. If you think that the Stohlquist Toddler Life Jacket isn’t the right fit for you or your child, you might want to break out the big bucks and get the best product you can find. In this case, that just might be the Mustang Survival Lil’ Legends Infant Life Vest.
Though it’s the most expensive item on our list, it’s still relatively cheap and should be within most customer’s budgets. If you prefer to put your money where your mouth is and make sure you get a product your happy with, then this is the vest for you. Here are the big selling points that might just make you decide the Mustang Survival Lil’ Legends Infant Life Vest is worth your hard-earned cash.
Reason #1 to Choose This Product: Crotch Strap
Babies are curious little escape artists, and it really feels like you can’t take your eyes off of them for more than a second. The problem with the typical life jacket design is that if your little one manages to get the jacket above their head, then the next thing you know, your new infant life jacket is abandoned on the side where it’s no good to anyone.
Thankfully, the Mustang Survival Lil’ Legends Infant Life Vest features a crotch strap for extra security, and even if your baby manages to wriggle their head past the neck hole, the crotch strap will make sure everything stays in place. Even your little Houdini won’t be able to get out of this life jacket, and they’ll always be safe in the water. If you want a life vest safer than Fort Knox, then the Mustang Survival Lil’ Legends Infant Life Vest is the perfect choice for you.
Reason #2 to Choose This Product: Grab Handle
In the unfortunate event that your baby does fall into the water, any life jacket worth its weight will be able to keep your child afloat. Of course, you’ll still want a quick and convenient way to get them out of the water, even if they’re in there voluntarily. The Mustang Survival Lil’ Legends Infant Life Vest features an amazingly convenient grab handle on the neck that will help you quickly yank your baby out the water in case of emergency, and will just make your life that much easier during more calm departures from the water. No more struggling to fit your arms around the vest or your baby’s neck. Just use the grab handle to bring your baby in and then hold them in your secure arms. The folks at Mustang really thought of everything with this life vest.
In addition to the crotch strap and the grab handle, both amazing design features in their own right, the Mustang Survival Lil’ Legends Infant Life Vest boasts a zipper and an easy-release strap for maximum security. On top of that, this premium-grade type II life jacket has a handle on the zipper that will make closing and opening it much easier.
It’s more expensive than our top-ranked infant life jacket, but it’s still plenty cheap. The Mustang Survival Lil’ Legends Infant Life Vest is a high-quality product that’s perfect for anyone who doesn’t want to settle. This is the best infant life jacket if you want nothing but the best.
#3: Airhead Wicked Kwik-Dry Neolite Flex Life Vest (Best for Visibility)
Nothing is more terrifying than turning around and not knowing exactly where your baby is. Unfortunately, these curious mini-humans tend to wander off on their own. An amazing way to keep track of your child is with a type II life jacket that sticks out, and no life jacket sticks out quite like the Airhead Wicked Kwik-Dry Neolite Flex Life Vest.
This hot-pink life jacket is sure to catch your eye, and it’ll always be easy to spot your little one from anywhere in the vicinity. But it’s not just a flashy design. The Airhead Wicked Kwik-Dry Neolite Flex Life Vest features a zipper closure with two adjustable belts and a crotch strap, and it has a grab handle similar to that of the Mustang Survival Lil’ Legends Infant Life Vest.
This vibrant life jacket is suitable for babies up to 30 pounds, and it’s made of the titular Kwik-Dry NeoLite material that will make sure your baby doesn’t drip water all over the car after your little adventure. The Airhead Wicked Kwik-Dry Neolite Flex Life Vest is a functional and fashionable life vest that will keep your baby safe and visible at all times.
It’s reasonably priced, and it’s something of a crowd favorite. Of course, if you’re going for something a bit more subtle, then you’ll probably want to go with one of our other options. If you want your child to stand out, this is the best choice for you.
#4: Stearns Classic Series Infant Life Vest (Best Low Cost)
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In a list of products that are already pretty cheap, you may want the cheapest of the cheap. Maybe you’ve already spent more than your fair share on all of the other vacation expenses, or maybe you just need to tighten up your belt. No matter what your reasoning for keeping things cheap, the Stearns Classic Series Infant Life Vest is the best friend of anyone looking to save.
This fully adjustable type II life vest features a durable nylon shell as well as a leg strap and the grab handle we’ve come to love. It also has open sides that will improve breathability, so it’s great for more sensitive infants. If you were starting to wonder, “What’s the catch?” the Stearns Classic Series Infant Life Vest is missing the extra padding that a lot of the more expensive baby life jackets offer, which may be a deal-breaker for a lot of parents. This baby life jacket will still take care of your infant’s needs, but that extra head support is just a must-have for some parents.
But if you’ve already spent enough money getting ready for your big trip, then the Stearns Classic Series Infant Life Vest might be just what you’re looking for to get your baby ready for the water.
Frequently Asked Questions
We know that you still might have a lot of questions still picking at your brain, and we want to make sure they’re all answered before we send you on your way. While I can’t claim to be a mind reader, I have come to learn what the frequent big questions are, and I can only hope that these will address your concerns. Keep reading this FAQ section to have all of your ducks in a row before you buy your baby life jacket.
How Does Buoyancy Work?
Type II baby life jackets all have a buoyancy weight of around 7 pounds. This can be confusing, as they’re suitable for babies that weigh up to about 30 pounds. The reason for that is pretty simple. Water already floats. Since our bodies are mostly made of water, a life vest doesn’t actually have to support all of our weight. The amount of weight a life jacket needs to keep afloat gets lowered even further when you consider that body fat also floats. This means that only about 10 to 20 percent of your weight is being supported, which means that just 7 pounds of buoyancy is more than enough for most infants.
What Is a Type II PFD?
First of all, PFD just stands for Personal Flotation Device. All of the US Coast Guard-approved life jackets are all categorized by type. I won’t bore you or waste your time explaining every type. All you need to know for now is that type II is the most suitable for infants. It’s designed to turn an unconscious wearer face-up in the water, though you should be warned that this won’t always work perfectly. It’s also intended for calm, inland water, so your child isn’t ready for the ocean just yet.
That’s pretty much all you need to know for now, but if you’re interested in learning more about the different PFD types, it’s all pretty straightforward, and it’s a quick Google search away.
Verdict: Your Best Infant Life Jackets
We’re reaching the end of our list, and you’re hopefully starting to get a good idea of which of our products is best for you. But if you haven’t made up your mind yet, not to worry. We don’t want to rush, and we know how important it is to make sure you’re getting the best infant life jacket that’s perfect for you. That’s why we’re going to recap all of our infant life jackets and focus on their standout features. This way, you’ll be able to see the highlights and really know what each product has to offer for you.
If you want the best value for your money, pick the Stohlquist Toddler Life Jacket.
When you find a cheap baby life jacket with a comfortable nylon shell and a zipper reinforced by a quick-release buckle, you’ll probably want to buy it. With the perfect support for your baby’s head and a zipper reinforced with easy-latch straps, the Stohlquist Toddler Life Jacket offers all of the standard features you can ask for from a type II life jacket. And, as we’ve mentioned, it’s nice and cheap, which makes it fun for the whole family, and the best value on the market.
If you need a grab handle, pick the Mustang Survival Lil’ Legends Infant Life Vest.
A grab handle is a perfect example of “better to have it and not need it than not have it.” If your child ever falls into the water, you’re going to want something quick and easy to grab onto, and the Mustang Survival Lil’ Legends Infant Life Vest gives you just that. While there are other life jackets with a grab handle, I’m definitely partial to the design of the Mustang Survival Lil’ Legends Infant Life Vest, so if you think that you just can’t pass up on a good grab handle, then this is the perfect baby life jacket for you.
If you want to keep the spending cheap, pick the Stearns Classic Series Infant Life Vest.
If you have a baby, then you know how expensive it can be to care for and provide for a family. You have enough on your plate without buying a super fancy infant life jacket. That’s why the Stearns Classic Series Infant Life Vest exists. This US Coast Guard-approved vest features a crotch strap and a grab handle, which is pretty much unheard of at this price range. It also has a convenient zipper reinforced with latches, so it’s secure, comfortable, and functional. There really isn’t much else to say about the Stearns Classic Series Infant Life Vest. If you want to save your money, this is the best place to look.
We’re finally ready to quickly wrap things up. If you’re not a huge fan of the highlighted products above, then you may be more interested in the vibrant hot-pink Airhead Wicked Kwik-Dry Neolite Flex Life Vest.
Remember, all of our products have one key feature that sets them apart from the crowd, so that’s what you’ll want to focus on when you’re making your choice.
That’s all for now. We hope our list has helped, and we hope you and your baby both have an amazing time on the water!