Best Life Jackets for Toddlers of 2022


Product Size Weight Price range
O'Neill Wake Waterski Infant USCG Vest O'Neill Wake Waterski Infant USCG Vest 19 x 18.3 x 2.2 inches 9.2 ounces $$
Stohlquist Toddler Life Jacket Stohlquist Toddler Life Jacket 20 x 19 x 2 inches 9.9 ounces $$
Speedo Kids' UPF 50+ Speedo Kids' UPF 50+ 16.5 x 12 x 2 inches 1 pounds $
Full Throttle Child Water Buddies Life Vest Full Throttle Child Water Buddies Life Vest 14 x 11 x 5 inches 11.2 ounces $
New & Improved Oceans7 US Coast Guard Approved New & Improved Oceans7 US Coast Guard Approved 2 x 2 x 2 inches 11.2 ounces $

Little ones adore having fun in the water but safety is essential. For parents, any insecurity can become a great danger. This is something that most adults get over soon enough, letting go of unnecessary fears and overprotection. However, there are situations in which one can never be too cautious. Leaving a toddler swim for the very first time or having to deal with one who is afraid of water is one of those challenging moments when you would rather be too cautious than traumatizing the child and yourself. Life jackets for toddlers have been around for a long time, but only in the past few years, as technology evolved,  they have become extremely safe and comfortable. 

Whether you are on vacation or visiting the local pool, a toddler life jacket is an essential purchase. Nowadays, there are many life jacket models for toddlers available on the market, but only a few are really worth the money. Ask any parent who owns a pool at home or is planning a vacation by the ocean or a lake together with the kids and they will tell you that life jackets cannot be skipped. 

By comparison with floaties or other water safety accessories for kids, life jackets that fit their size have the great advantage of letting the arms and legs to move freely. Most of the high-quality models available today are adjustable and designed based on age category. 

Are you looking to buy life jackets for your toddlers but you cannot tell the difference between cheap ones and pricier ones? Do you want to find a product that offers value for money and integrates the latest floating design? You have come to the right place. In our attempt to ease your decision-making process, we have selected 5 of the most popular products on the market. We reviewed them and highlighted their pros and cons. Check them out below. 

Are you desperate to find a high-quality life jacket for your toddler that is capable of preventing drowning in case of an accident? This O’Neill model is especially designed to flip the baby immediately in such a situation. This is one of the main reasons why parents chose this product. Other features that make it extremely valuable are the practical handle strap, the comfortable nylon shell, the adjustable belts, as well as the durable exterior. This product also features nylon panels with PVC backing and it has a belt between the legs that is meant to make the vest even safer.

This is a US Coast Guard approved life jacket for toddlers. It is a Type II and it is suitable for babies that weigh up to 30 pounds. It comes in 6 color combinations; it is easy to use and comfortable for the baby. If you see tin holes on the inside lining, do not panic. They are meant to offer the fabric breathability. The great thing about this product and something that differentiates it from other similar jackets is the fact that the baby cannot slip from it thanks to the tighting belt between the legs.

What’s to like?

  • It is affordable
  • It is nicely designed
  • It is safe
  • It is designed for toddlers up to 30 pounds
  • It has a nylon shell over closed cell
  • It is designed to float face up
  • It has adjustable belts
  • It has quick-release buckles
  • It has a head cushion
  • It has a safety belt between the legs
  • It has nylon panels
  • It has UV protection
  • It is US Coast Guard Approved

What’s not to like?

  • It is quite bulky

A life vest that is both affordable, safe and durable is brought to you by Stohlquist Waterware. This product comes in 10 different colors, it has a compact design and a shape that allows the baby to feel comfortable throughout the journey. Are you anxious that the toddler will be deranged by the jacket it will be wearing? Thanks to the design of this model and its adjustability, you will not have to worry about that anymore. This vest has a quick release buckle over entry zipper, it comes with adjustable crotch strap and it has a convenient grab handle.

It is designed to allow the baby to float in a face up position the whole time comfortable. However, before doing this in a pool, it might be better to try it at least once in a bathtub, in order for the child to get used to the feeling. Otherwise, you might have a hard time keeping it into the water. This product is a Type II PFD with a buoyancy of 7 pounds and it is US Coast Guard approved. What is really nice about this jacket is that it allows the child to move its arms freely. Also, t has an open back for added seat comfort. The jacket is suitable for children up to 30 pounds and it measures 20 x 19 x 2 inches.

What’s to like?

  • It is affordable
  • It has a compact design
  • It comes in 10 colors
  • It is a type II vest
  • It offers arm mobility
  • It has a double collar
  • It has open neck for full movement
  • It has zippered front
  • It has a single front buckle
  • It has adjustable crotch strap
  • It has full sized adjustable straps
  • It has a grab handle

What’s not to like?

  • It doesn’t have a strap between the legs

As parents, we want our children to gain confidence as soon as possible and to be able to do things on their own. Swimming is one of those things and it can be easily taught if the child feels safe. This swim vest is a Level II and it is meant to help the child build the confidence it needs in order to start swimming. It is a vest made of soft and durable neoprene with UV 50 protection. It comes with a full front zipper, safety closure in upright position and safety strap between the legs. The inner lining is made of soft polyester, so your toddler will feel safe and comfortable while playing in the water.

This model comes in 2 colors: pink and green. Also, it is available in 2 sizes: medium and large. It is a great swimming vest, but it is not recommended to use as a proper life jacket for open waters. Although it has some buoyancy, it isn’t enough to keep the baby on the surface in case of strong waves. However, if you are planning to use it from swimming lessons or for daily play time in your own pool, you have nothing to worry about.

What’s to like?

  • It is very inexpensive
  • It has a beautiful design
  • It is great for swimming lessons
  • It comes in 2 sizes
  • It comes in 2 colors
  • It has UV protection
  • It is made of soft neoprene
  • It has soft polyester lining
  • It has a safety strap between the legs
  • It has full front zipper closure
  • It is easy to put on
  • It is comfortable for the baby
  • It is lightweight

What’s not to like?

  • There is no small size
  • It isn’t recommended to wear it in open waters

An even more affordable option is this product from Full Throttle that is highly appreciated by parents who take their children to swimming classes even from the youngest ages. It has a beautiful princess design and it is available in other styles, too: astronaut, dinosaur, lady bug and turtle. This floating device is great for children. Not only is it great for swimming lessons or having fun with their parents in the pool, but also for inland waters. Thanks to the fact that it is bright and colorful, children usually love it. It is also comfortable, having a unique shaped foam back.

It is made of 150 denier poly-twill, it has zippered front, waist belts and a leg strap that keeps the vest from sliding. The interior of the vest is made of floatation foam. What most consumers ask themselves when they first see this product is whether it is Coast Guard approved or not. The answer is yes. It is a type III PFD that fits children up between 30 and 50 pounds. This means that larger children can use it, by comparison to the other products in this list that had weight capacities of up to 30 pounds. This life jacket measures 14 x 11 x 5 inches.

What’s to like?

  • It is inexpensive
  • It has beautiful graphics
  • It is bright and colorful
  • It is lightweight
  • It is comfortable
  • It is a type III Coast Guard approved vest
  • It has a unique shaped back
  • It is made of 150 denier poly-twill
  • It has zippered front
  • It has a leg strap
  • It is made of floatation foam
  • It fits children between 30 and 50 pounds
  • It does not contain PVC

What’s not to like?

  • The leg strap is somewhat abrasive

Just like the previous product, this is a life jacket that can be worn by toddlers, as well as by bigger children. This is a Type III U.S Coast Guard approved life vest that is highly comfortable, passes USCG standards and testing and can be of great help for children between 30 and 50 pounds and chest circumference between 20 and 25 inches. It is made of nylon and thick EPE floatation foam, it has 3 adjustable straps, as well as an open-sided design. The entire fabric is breathable and lightweight, so that when in water, the child will feel comfortable to play and use its arms and legs to try to swim.

The great thing about this product is that it is made of durable materials and that it dries really fast, so you will not have difficulties storing it safely. This life jacket is suitable for boating, water sports, as well as swimming classes. It is very comfortable thanks to the open sides and allows the child to move the arms freely, without any constraints. If you are looking for an affordable option that is really safe and durable, this could be the right product for you, as it offers value for money.

What’s to like?

  • It is inexpensive
  • It has a beautiful design
  • It comes in 10 color options
  • It fits children between 30 and 50 pounds
  • It is Coast Guard approved
  • It is USCG approved
  • It has secure fastening
  • It has 3 buckle straps
  • It has a leg strap
  • It has open side design
  • It is made of nylon an thick floatation foam
  • It is comfortable to wear
  • Its straps ae adjustable
  • It is great for swimming and boating

What’s not to like?

  • It doesn’t have a zipper
  • Models designed for boys are a bit pricier

What are the main life jackets types?

Although there are 5 different types of life jackets available on the market for toddlers, only 3 of them are approved by the US Coast Guard. The five types are:

  1. The offshore life jacket
  2. The near shore Buoyant vest
  3. The flotation aid
  4. The throwable PFD
  5. A hybrid model that is inflatable (either manually or automatically)

As mentioned, not all of these models are US Coast Guard Approved. Type 1, 2 and 3 are approved and they are recommended for all toddlers. The first type is designed to help toddlers in rough seas for a long period of time. Their main advantage is that they are capable of turning a person upwards in case they fall unconscious. They aren’t recommended, though, for a simple swim in the pool. Type 2 is usually orange, less bulky than the first type and is recommended for use near shore, where waters are calmer. Type 3 is the most comfortable of all and can be worn for longer periods of time. They aren’t the best for survival, but make great floating accessories for kids who want to have fun in the summer pool.

What is the best fit for your child?

Although all life jackets for children are labelled with age and weight categories, it is recommended to be objective and see if the toddler truly belongs to its age category. Sometimes, children are smaller than their friends the same age, taller or have larger weights. Finding the best fit for your child is imperative. If none of the vests seem to fit perfectly, then choose a model that is highly adjustable. In order to ensure that the vest fits, you can do the arm test. The child must raise the arms above the head. Then, you must pull on the top of the arm openings. If the vest does not ride up over the chin or face, it is a good fit. If it does, it is too large and you must consider a different model. Remember that it is not recommended to bring infants on recreational boats or in pools, except for when the water level is extremely low and they can be supervised the whole time. These life jackets are designed for toddlers and not infants.

Should you let your toddler swim without a vest?

While some parents argue that trying to protect your toddler at all times by encouraging to always wearing a safety vest when swimming is only going to lead to delays in actually learning how to swim, there are others that say the exact opposite. That is, you should never leave your child unprotected and unsupervised. This is a topic for debate and finding the right formula for everyone is almost impossible. There are a lot of elements involved, such as the age of the toddler, the type of water he is going in, the number of contacts he has had with water, his personality, independence level and many more. Just like all aspects of life, it would be great if you could maintain balance. For instance, you could encourage your child to use a life jacket if he feels unsafe or less confident, but also encourage them not to, if it’s already been too long and the water is safe. However it may be, do not underestimate the risks and always have one of these vests at hand, just in case your child needs it.

It is a well-known fact that infants and toddlers can learn how to swim way faster than adults. For some, swimming comes naturally. The other lot that has to learn how to swim needs a few things in order to actually do it. First of all, they need to feel safe. Next, they need to gain confidence. Last, but not least, it is important for them to gain some strength. Confidence, strength and psychological comfort come with time. Life jackets not only help toddlers gain them, by letting them play in the water for as long as they want to, but they also keep them safer than ever. If you have reached this paragraph, it means that you are determined to buy a good life jacket for toddlers. That being the case, we suggest that you also consider the cons of these products, not just the pros. Moreover, we cannot highlight enough the importance of sizing. Ensure that the vest fits the child perfectly, so that everybody stays safe no matter the situation.