Best Toddler Life Jacket 2021 – Coast Guard Approved

A good number of fun activities for the family involve water. Whether it is visiting the water park to going on vacation, there is always water involved. Either in the form of a pool or large water body like the ocean. Most parents teach their kids to swim at a tender age. Infants from 18 pounds can learn how to swim. However, at this age, or any age where a kid is learning to swim, the use of an infant life jacket or toddler life vest is critical. The market is packed with a wide range of baby life jackets for toddlers. In this post, we will discuss the best toddler life jacket Coast Guard approved.

Life Jacket 101

Life jackets are also known as PFDs (personal flotation devices). They help the wearer float on the water, especially if they cannot swim or are swimming during potential hazards. Different types of life jackets are designed for different situations. There are those that are for rough waters, others for calm waters, and others simply for kids and people that do not have swimming skills or body control.

Life jackets are very important for kids that are learning how to swim, as well as those ones who already know how to. The reason is that they keep the kids safe in the water. When choosing the best toddler life jacket – US Coast Guard approved is the description to look for.

Why Does My Child Need One?

According to statistics, drowning is among the top cause of death in young children in the world. It is also one of the most common causes of death for children that are below four years old.

This, however, does not mean that kids should be kept away from water at all times. It is important for children to enjoy recreational activities with the rest of the family, even when water is involved. Coupled with proper adult supervision, life jackets help keep your child safe while having fun with the rest of the family.

Why is a Life Jacket Important During Boating?

Boating is a fun activity to enjoy as a family. However, kids below the age of 13 are only allowed on boats if they wear baby life jackets. This is especially the case if the vessel is in motion. The only exception is if the kids are in an enclosed cabin or below the deck.

While parents are advised against bringing infants on boats, the USCG also recognizes that some parents cannot abide by the recommendations. Therefore, kids that are 15 pounds and above currently have a variety of life jacket options that they can use while boating.

Parents are, however, advised to test the jackets in a controlled environment before taking their child on a boat.

How Does a Life Jacket Protect My Child?

  • Buoyancy: The jackets contain foam (a buoyant material). The material displaces a large amount of water, hence keeping the wearer floating. The amount that is displaced depends on the size and weight of the wearer.
  • Visibility: Most life jackets have bright colors. The bright color helps to keep your child visible, especially during an emergency.
  • Head Protection: Most brands keep the children floating face-up. This is ideal for kids that do not have body control.
  • Security: The jackets have security features like latches and straps that keep the jacket in place at all times.

Types of Life Jackets

Below are some of the main types of life jackets as classified by the USCG:

  • Type 1: This is also known as an offshore life jacket. It is used for survival in rough seas, the open ocean, and remote waters. Most people use it in situations where quick rescue is unlikely as it features high levels of buoyancy. It is, however, bulky and not comfortable when worn for a long time.
  • Type II: This is also known as the nearshore buoyant life jacket. Ideal for calm inland waters, where there is a good chance for a quick rescue. It is less bulky than the first type. However, it’s not suitable for rough seas and extended use.
  • Type III: This is also known as flotation aid. It is ideal for calm inland waters only. This is the most comfortable type as it is lightweight. Therefore, you can use it for long periods of time.

How to Choose the Best Life Jacket for Kids

When choosing a life jacket for your kid, consider the following primary factors:

  • Coast guard approved: Always go for a product that is approved by the USCG because you can be sure that it is safe.
  • Size and weight: Life jackets come with recommended weights and size. For instance, most life jackets for kids are for babies less than 30 pounds. Using such a jacket on a heavier child would be hazardous. The size determines how comfortable and secure the jacket is.
  • Safety features: Consider a jacket with features like leg and crotch straps as they allow for added comfort and security. Make sure the straps come with quick-release buckles for convenience.

Top 10 Best Toddler Life Jackets – Coast Guard Approved

best-toddler-life-jacket coast guard approved

Best Life Jacket for Infant:

1. Stearns Infant Classic Series Vest

Stearns Infant Classic Series Vest Product Image

This is the best infant life jacket for introducing your baby to swimming. This baby life jacket is designed specifically for infants that weigh less than 30 pounds. It features a durable nylon shell and a PE flotation foam with a long life span as well. The jacket is also designed with a leg strap and a grab handle that allows for extra safety and security. It also features a secure 1-inch webbing that makes it extra comfortable. Moreover, Stearns infant vest is an open-sided life vest suitable for both boys and girls. This is an overall great life vest, and particularly one of the best life jacket for 1 year-olds.

What I love about it:

  • Durable nylon construction
  • Comfortable
  • Extremely safe

Something to keep in mind:

  • Quality is wanting

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Stohlquist Toddler Life Jacket Product Image

This life jacket for kids has a quick-release buckle over the entry zipper. This feature allows for added security. It also has an adjustable crotch strap that keeps it in place and makes the entire jacket comfortable. The convenient grab-handle is great. It has a buoyancy level of 7lbs and is Coast Guard Approved.

The jacket’s floating feature keeps the baby in a calm, face-up position. The product comes in a variety of sizes meant for kids with varying weights. It is also very durable and possibly the best life jacket for 2 year-olds.

What I love about it:

  • Very safe
  • Comfortable and fits well
  • Best toddler life jacket -Coast Guard Approved

Something to keep in mind:

  • Expensive

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O'Neill Wake Waterski Infant USCG Vest Product Image

This is one of the Best Coast guard approved Type 11 PFD toddler life jackets for kids. The life jacket is meant for children under 30 pounds. It has a comfortable nylon shell over that is enclosed with cell PVC marine foam. The foam is shaped to float the baby face-up. It also has adjustable safety belts which are located between the legs to allow for additional safety.

The belts are durable with quick-release buckles. It also has a grab loop on the head cushion. This infant life jacket is very soft and comfortable as well as durable because of its nylon panels. It is one of the best infant life jackets.

What I love about it:

  • Comfortable and soft
  • Coast guard approved
  • Durable

Something to keep in mind:

  • Expensive

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Stearns Original Puddle Jumper Kids Life Jacket Product Image

This life jacket for kids has been tested, and it is Coast Guard Approved. It is a type V and III floating device that can be worn inside and near the water. It can also be used on boats and at water parks. The jacket features a nylon shell that makes it quite durable. It is playfully designed with a colorful appearance that kids and love.

It fits snugly and provides maximum protection. This is one of the best life jacket for 3 year-olds and it comes with safety buckle snaps in the back and an adjustable strap that is suitable for kids between 30- 50 pounds.

What I love about it:

  • Fits snugly
  • Cost-efficient
  • Provides maximum security

Something to keep in mind:

  • Not the best quality

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Speedo Supersaurus Personal Life Jacket Product Image

This is a colorful life jacket for kids that love fun and color. It has a dino-collar. This is ideal for toddlers and parents obsessed with dinosaurs. The life jacket is specifically for children between 30 and 50 pounds.

Moreover, it fits snugly and securely. It also has leg straps that are padded to allow for extra safety and comfort. Additionally, it also has side straps that fit securely. Lastly, it is both US Coast Guard and the American Red Cross approved.

What I love about it:

  • Extremely safe
  • Fun and comfortable design
  • Coast Guard Approved

Something to keep in mind:

  • Not quite durable

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Full Throttle Child Water Buddies Life Vest Product Image

This life jacket for babies features a fun and bright design with colorful graphics that are ideal for kids. It has a uniquely shaped back that is made of foam. The foam helps to keep it comfortable. The life jacket is has imported materials that are highly durable.

It comes with a flotation foam all round that helps to keep the baby above the water at all times. The flotation foam is also quite durable. The jacket features a front zipper, belts and leg straps that keep it in place at all times.

What I love about it:

  • Cost-efficient
  • Durable and comfortable

Something to keep in mind:

  • It’s very colorful, which might not be agreeable to some

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Best for the Beach:

7. Airhead Infant Life Vest

Airhead Infant Life Vest Product Image

This is a type II life jacket for children that do not weigh more than 30 pounds. It is USGC approved. It has three sturdy belts. Each of the belts have a side release buckle that makes the jacket easy to put on and remove. This is one of the best infant life jacket.

It also comes with a crotch strap that allows for added safety. It is a closed sided infant life vest with a segmented headrest and a grab handle. This provides extra support. The product contains a soft UV resistant polyester shell as well as lightweight PE for flotation.

What I love about it:

  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Comfortable

Something to keep in mind:

  • Not for kids above 30 pounds

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Puddle Jumper Kids 2-in-1 Life Jacket and Rash Guard Product Image

This life jacket is perfect for use at the water park, in a pool, ocean, or on a boat. It has a built-in toddler rash guard that offers UPF 50+ protection against UV rays. Moreover, this toddler vest blocks up to 93% of the harmful rays both while wet and dry.

It also features a comfortable design that allows kids to enjoy being active in and outside the water. What’s more, it has a zipper and an adjustable buckle that ensures a secure fit. Finally, it is also made using woven polyester that is soft and does not cause any form of chafing.

What I love about it:

  • UV protection
  • Very comfortable
  • Toddler rash guard built-in

Something to keep in mind:

  • Expensive

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Body Glove Paddle Pals Learn to Swim Life Jacket Product Image

This is the best product to use when teaching your baby how to swim because it comes with armbands for swimming lessons. It also comes with a shoulder harness that prevents the babies from removing the vest without parental approval. The life jacket is made of polyester material that is durable and does not cause chafing.

The shoulder harness also keeps the vest in place for recreational activities. It features a multi-panel design and an adjustable chest strap with a quick-release buckle for added safety and comfort. This is one of the best life jackets for toddlers between 30-50 pounds.

What I love about it:

  • Coast Guard Approved
  • Very secure
  • Durable

Something to keep in mind:

  • This life jacket for toddlers is not suitable for bigger kids

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Mustang Infant Survival PFD Lil Mate Vest Product Image

This is a US Coast Guard Approved Type II life jacket. It is has a crotch strap that keeps the vest in place at all times. The crotch strap features an adjustable design that allows for extra comfort and safety.

It is said to have a good fit and allows your child to move around while wearing it. It also features a colorful design that is ideal for both genders. If you’re looking for the best infant life jackets, this is one of the top candidates.

What I love about it:

  • Safe
  • Fits snugly
  • Highly durable

Something to keep in mind:

  • Expensive

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Safety Tips

Do not leave your child in the water alone if he has not learnt how to swim properly, even with a life jacket. The same rule should be applied when the baby is on a boat or near a water source like at the beach without a toddler vest.Tweet

Make sure that your baby’s life jacket is not too tight that the baby feels extremely restricted. It also should not be too loose that the baby can wriggle out of it.

The jacket is in no way a substitute for teaching your baby how to swim. Try to teach baby how to swim as early as possible.

My Experience with Toddler Life Jackets

When I chose a life jacket for my toddler I considered safety first. Once I found the right product in terms of security and protection, I checked for a pleasant design. Look for life jackets which are made of top-quality and heavy duty materials. Choose vibrant colors so you can spot your toddler anytime.


  • What Flotation Device Is Best for 2 Year Old?

    A life jacket or swim tube trainer are easy-to-use and safe flotation devices for your baby. They’re made of strong nylon material and come in vibrant colors for exceptional visibility.

  • Can A 1 Year Old Wear a Life Jacket?

    Although infants aren’t thrilled about wearing life jackets, they’re critical for your baby safety. Check the jacket’s label to verify what activities it’s suitable for. Make sure the life jacket works in a pool or a secure environment.

  • At What Age Can a Baby Wear a Life Jacket?

    Your baby can start using a life jacket when he/she turns 1 year old. Ensure the life jacket fits your baby perfectly by having her/him raise both arms up. If the jacket hits your baby’s ears and chin, it could be too large.

  • Can 1 Year Old Use Puddle Jumper?

    Yes, your 1 year old baby can use a puddle jumper. Choose a puddle jumper which includes head support and soft hydroprene cover with floatation foam. The product should include leg straps and handles for increased security.

  • Can 2 Year-Olds Swim?

    Yes, when your baby turns 2 years old he/she can learn how to swim. The sooner you teach your baby to swim, the sooner he/she will get used to water. You can start teaching your baby to swim as young as 6-months old.

The Bottom Line

Each of the products mentioned on this post can be ranked as the best toddler life jacket – Coast guard approved. However, the choice you make should be based primarily on the weight of your child and the security of the product.

Choosing the best product could help save the life of your child in case of an accident. The jackets can also help you with swimming training for your child.

Other swimming and water products you may want to read about next are the best non-toxic kiddie pools or the best baby bath toys for babies and toddlers.

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