Best Life Jackets for Kids Reviews 2020
Being a parent may leave you worrying about your child’s safety often, especially when water is involved. Many kids like to go swimming and for some that may mean going to the pool; while other children prefer to jump the waves at the ocean. If you’re planning on letting your child go swimming at the ocean or lake, you may want to consider getting them a life jacket that is designed for kids. There are a lot of life jackets on the market and to help with your search, we looked at specific criteria that are necessary to keep your child safe. We put that all together and wrote a review of five great products along with a buying guide. It offers detailed information on features that you should consider when purchasing a life vest for your child.
Best Seller – TRC Recreation Super Soft USCG Vest
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The TRC Recreation Super Soft life vest is one of the best sellers on the market today with its soft and durable structure. It also will keep your child feeling comfortable all day. The TRC life vest is made out of closed-cell foam and vinyl. The design also offers a vinyl waterproof covering to help keep the water from soaking into the material and causing it to become heavy. This lightweight and easy to carry design include an adjustable back slot and strap that goes between the legs to create the perfect balanced fit.
It also is constructed with two adjustable safety belts one at the torso and the other across the chest for added comfort and security. The kwik-snap buckles on the front make it easy for your child to slip it on and off. This design will help your child learn better skills in the water while gaining confidence. The TRC Recreation Super Soft life vest comes in a variety of colors, including yellow, orange, and lime. This design has been rated as the best seller on the life jacket market.
- Made from closed-cell foam and vinyl
- Adjustable back slot and strap that goes between the legs
- Waterproof vinyl for comfort
- Two adjustable safety belts with Kwik-snap buckles
- Made in the USA
- US Coast Guard approved
Verdict: The TRC Recreation Super Soft life vest is US Coast Guard approved as a type III life jacket. It is recommended for kids with an extra-small chest size of 21-23 inches, a small chest size of 23-24 inches, and medium chest size 26-29 inches. All Super Soft life jackets are made in the USA and are also US Coast Guard approved.
- Unsinkable foam
- Lightweight and easy to carry
- US Coast Guard approved
- Dry and water-resistant
- If the life vest rides up, the leg strap may be uncomfortable and cause chafing.
Top Pick – Stearns Youth Boating Vest (50-90 pounds)
- US Coast Guard-approved youth life jacket
- Great for boating, tubing, and swimming
- Durable nylon construction with PE flotation foam
Last update on 2021-12-22 at 14:28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / More info
The Stearns Youth life jacket is designed to keep your child safe and secure out on the water. This youth vest exceeds all of the authoritarian obligations needed for boating use. This 7.4-ounce design is made from durable synthetic nylon construction with PE Crosstech floatation foam. This one-sided boating vest has a three quick-click buckle closure for easy on and off access. This Type III PFD has a sea-level buoyancy of 15.5 pounds that creates the best possible floatation that is needed to protect your child.
This lightweight design is constructed with three 1-inch adjustable straps that go horizontally across the torso and chest. The adjustability of these straps offers your child a comfortable and secure fit to ensure your child’s safety. This boating life vest is not just for going out on a boat; it also is excellent for swimming in pools, lakes, and rivers. Nothing about this vest will slow your child down; the structure is designed for maneuverability and safety.
- Designed for kids weighing 50-90 pounds
- US Coast Guard approved
- Open-sided design
- Three adjustable 1-inch straps
- Three quick-connect buckles for a secure fit
- Durable nylon construction with PE floatation foam
Verdict: With its excellent features and ability, the Stearns Youth life vest has grown to be the top pick in the life vest industry. This type III PFD is designed for kids that weigh between 50-90 pounds and USCG approved, so there is no logical reason to worry about your child’s safety when using this life jacket design.
- Flotation ability of this PFD is excellent
- Adjusts to the perfect and safe fit
- Lightweight and comfortable design
- The vest sizing runs small
- The opening around the neck is small
Best Value – Full Throttle Child Water Buddies Life Vest
- Fun, bright and colorful graphics
- Unique shaped foam back
- Zippered front with waist belts and leg strap to keep vest from riding up
Last update on 2021-12-23 at 00:50 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / More info
The Full Throttle Child life vest is made out of 150 denier poly-twill and lightweight, durable foam. This Child Water Buddies life vest offers children a bright and colorful design theme; it also is bright enough for parents and rescue crews to easily see. The round foam back has unique shapes that bring the color design themes to life.
There are six imaginative designs such as a ladybug, firefly, princess, dinosaur, astronaut, and turtle. This life vest design has a zipper, two buckle closure, and a strap that goes between the legs for a secure and safe fit. This type III PFD is made with 1-inch adjustable straps for customized sizing results at the torso and between the legs. This design has been rated as the best value in the life jacket market.
- Bright, colorful design with childhood characters
- Rounded foam back
- Fits children 30-50 pounds
- Fits 20-23 inches chest size
- Zipper and two buckle closure
- Two 1-inch adjustable straps
- A strap that goes between the legs
- US Coast Guard approved as a type III PFD
- Made with 150 denier poly-twill
Verdict: The Full Throttle child life vest is recommended for children weighing 30-50 pounds and has a chest size between 20-23 inches. This unique buddies design has children laughing and playing in the water with ease while keeping safe. The Full Throttle design is US Coast Guard approved as a type III PFD.
- Dual closure for added security
- Comes in six excellent color design theme
- Leaves plenty of room for maneuverability
- Has a leg strap to prevent the life vest from riding up
- The design tends to run small
- This style of vest tends to tip forward and may cause your child’s face to go in the water
Runner Up – Airhead Stars and Stripes Vest
- Fits children 30-50 Pounds
- Open Sided Vest
- Three Sturdy Belts with side release
Last update on 2021-12-23 at 00:50 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / More info
The Airhead Stars and Stripes life vest was designed with comfort, style, and function ability in mind. The trendy Airhead design has modern colors and graphics similar to the American flag. It not only has style but also offers a universal and comfortable fit. Safety is the main reason for having your child wear a life vest, and with the three-body belts closure system with side release buckles, your child will be safe and secure.
The adjustable crotch strap protects your child by not allowing the PFD to ride up and keeping it in place. This USA themed life jacket is designed with a lightweight Poly-E floatation that is tucked into a 200 denier polyester shell. The out layer of this lightweight design is soft UV and stain-resistant for long-lasting wear. All the security and comfortability this design has to offer has ranked it as the runner up in today’s PFD market.
- US Coast Guard approved as a type III PFD
- Open-sided to fit kids 30-50 pounds
- Fits 22-25 inches chest size
- Crotch strap included for added safety
- Lightweight Poly-E floatation inside
- Three-body belts with side release buckles
- Soft UV and stain resistant
- 200 denier polyester shell
Verdict: The Airhead life jacket is recommended for kids weighing 30-50 pounds and a chest size of 22-25 inches. This US Coast Guard-approved design passed the UL MQ6009 and received its certification in 2015 to guarantee your child’s safety on the water. It also offers Infant and Youth sizes as well.
- Designed with modern colors and graphics
- Safety straps to keep your child secure
- Designed for kids weighing 30-50 pounds
- Great for water activities
- This design size runs small
- It absorbs water. Therefore, you will need to press the water out.
Also Consider – Speedo Kids’ UPF 50+ Begin to Swim Classic Swim Vest
- Swim Level 2: Water Confidence - These products provide the tools to build confidence for a child already familiar with the water and...
- UV50+ Block the Burn protection from the sun's harmful UVA and UVB rays
- Soft, durable neoprene construction for warmth and buoyancy
Last update on 2022-02-04 at 22:02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / More info
The Speedo Kids’ Begin to Swim Classic life vest is made from soft, durable neoprene construction which helps to keep your child warm, light, and buoyant in the water. The outer material holds a UV 50+ block and burn protection that helps guard against harmful UVA and UVB rays. As a parent, you will have one less worry on your hands, knowing that your child will be protected from the sun.
This classic swim vest offers a full front zipper for easy on and off access; it also helps to keep your child independent and confident. It comes with a safety strap that goes between the legs with a buckle closure which helps to prevent it from riding up. As a parent, you should also consider that the Speedo Kids’ Swim vest will give your child the ability and confidence to swim with the rest of the family.
- Full front zipper for easy on and off
- Soft, durable neoprene construction
- Outer material holds a UV 50+ block and burn protection
- A safety strap with buckle closure that goes between the legs
- Available in medium and large kid sizes
Verdict: The Speedo kids’ Classic swim vest is designed with two different sizes. The medium is recommended for children who weigh between 33-45 pounds and are 2-4-year-olds. The large is recommended for children who weigh 45-60 pounds and are 4-6-year-olds. Sadly, it’s not US Coast Guard approved but does have some good qualities that will help your child learn how to swim. On the other hand, it is American Red Cross Licensed.
- The design provides warmth and buoyancy
- Protects against harmful UVA and UVB rays
- There are two sizes offered for this design
- Great learn-to-swim aid for beginners
- Not US Coast Guard approved
- It’s not very buoyant
Best Life Jacket for Kids Buying Guide 2019
Features to Consider:
Buckles and Zippers
Several life jackets for kids have an up and down zipper, and three quick connect buckles for closure. Having both of these closures may take some time to put on and take off your child, but it will give them the best possible security out on the water and is well worth it. Of course, you can purchase a life vest for your child that has only one of these features, and your child will be safe and secure as well.
When looking for a kid’s PFD, you will want the padding to be as comfortable as possible. Having padding that allows movement will give your child a way to stay safe and comfortable. If you choose a kid’s life jacket that has minimal amounts of padding, it may rise under your child’s armpits and cause chafing. However, the right amount of padding will offer comfortability and better floatation.
Safety and Security
As a parent, you are the extra set of eyes for your child that tells them when danger is nearby. The water is no different; In fact, it could be even more dangerous than some people may think. This is why it is so important to wear a life jacket on your child, which is designed especially for kids. Having the correct sizing will keep your child safer. To do that, you will need to make sure the life vest that you choose has plenty of adjustments to customize its fitting to your child.
You will want to choose a life jacket for your child that has comfortable padding. If your child’s life vest is too big or small, then it may leave them feeling uncomfortable and agitated. To keep your child happy and comfortable, you need to find the right weight size life vest made for children.
If your child loves being active out on the water, at some point, the heat will cause them to become hot. Having a good life jacket with built-in innovative channels in the design will provide the right amount of breathability. As the air flows through these channels, it will keep your child’s skin cool.
Color and Visibility
Accidents quickly happen out on the water, and you will always want to put on a bright colored life vest on your child for better visibility. If an accident should occur, as a parent, you would want them to be found quickly and without any delays. With colors such as fluorescent green, yellow, or fluorescent orange, the rescue crews will be able to spot your child at a distance and give them a quicker rescue.
What to Look for in a Life Jacket for Kids:
The Level of Buoyancy
Many parents forget to check the buoyancy when buying a life vest. Buoyancy is one of the main aspects that help to keep your child afloat out on the water; without it, many would sink. Normally, there are 7 pounds of buoyancy put into a child’s life jacket to keep a 30-50 pound child afloat. It is vital after purchasing a new life vest to test its floating ability to ensure your child’s safety.
Every kid’s life jacket is designed with a reliable weight capacity before your child goes under, so it’s imperative to pay attention and to stay within the weight limitations. Most kid’s life jackets have a weight capacity of 30-50 pounds. If your child is more substantial than other children their age, you may need to get them a teen or adult jacket for the right buoyancy and weight capacity to keep them afloat.
Sizing is essential when it involves your child. The sizing is what makes a lifejacket safe or unsafe; it also determines how comfortable it is for your child to wear. Getting the wrong sizing for your child may leave them unsafe in a dangerous situation. To ensure the proper sizing for your child, measure them across the chest and torso before purchasing.
US Coast Guard Approved
Having a USCG approved life vest means that you’re doing everything you possibly can to keep your child safe out on the water. The US Coast Guard looks at every life jacket that is made. If for some reason there are doubts on its ability, it will not get the stamp of approval. When buying a life jacket for a kid, be sure it is USCG approved, so you don’t need to worry about its ability.
Adjustability is essential when it comes to life jackets for kids. Having the three standard buckles and adjustable straps closure will ensure a proper fit. If you don’t have enough adjustments, it could leave the vest loose and bulky on your child, which may affect the floating ability. For the best life jacket results, adjust it to fit snug on your child’s torso and chest.
Tip ideas on Getting Your Child to Wear a Life Jacket
Is your child screaming and squirming with tears coming down every time you try to get them to wear a life jacket? If that sounds like your child, we have a few tips that may help you.
- Try turning it into a game. Of course, that means both mom and dad need to play. Stroking the competitiveness in your child may help.
- It is good to practice wearing a life jacket before boating or heading to the beach for the first time. If you do this activity a few hours before the event, it will give a better impact.
- Se a good lesson example by always wearing your life jacket. Also, educate them on why a life jacket should be worn.
- Use an award system with your child. When your child wears the life jacket for 5, 10, or 15 minutes give them a small reward.
Frequent Asked Questions
Can a rip current pull a child under while wearing a life jacket?
There is a small chance that your child can go under and not return to the surface. However, as long as your child can float or tread water, there is a good chance of survival.
How does a life jacket for kids work?
A life jacket for kids will guard your child against hypothermia, which is a frequent danger in cold water. Life jackets are made to help keep your child’s head on top of the water. It can save your child’s energy that typically is used up when treading in water. Life jackets for kids are designed to save lives.
My child grows fast, so I was thinking about getting a size bigger. Does the life jacket size matter?
Yes, the size does matter. Even if it is tempting to buy a larger size life jacket; it’s not the best solution to keep your child safe. Life jackets are made to fit snugly for a reason. If your child’s life jacket is too large for them, it may not function as well. In some instances, it may not be able to keep your child’s head above water, leaving them at risk for drowning. The life vest also could slide upward, which may cause chafing under the arms and chin. Think of your child’s safety and buy the proper size.
Can life jackets for kids be shared with other children?
Yes, children can share life jackets, but only if it is the correct size. Then again, you wouldn’t want to have the other children standing by the water waiting for their turn as children often get inpatient. If you have a group of children going to the beach or pool, it is best to have a life jacket for each child.
Does a life jacket for kids need to be US Coast Guard approved?
It is always recommended to buy a life jacket that is USCG approved, especially when children are involved. If the life jacket isn’t accepted, then there is something about the life vest that makes it not 100 percent safe. Since you never know what that might be, you should always buy a life jacket with the USCG approval found in the inside lining of the vest.
How long do life jackets for kids last?
Usually, life jackets only need to be replaced when the outer layer is damaged, the foam is broken, straps are torn, or the buckles will not connect. Also, another strong factor that would require replacing your child life jacket is if the zipper is broken or mold has developed that can’t be washed off. Always inspect your child’s life jacket every year to be sure it’s in tip-top shape. You may also want to have your child try the life jacket on to be sure they didn’t outgrow it.
Does a life jacket for kids prevent drowning?
Life jackets are designed to help with drowning but are not full proof. Life jackets for kids are designed to keep your child’s head out of the water by automatically place your child on their back. This technique will keep your child’s head above water; therefore, protecting them from drowning.
The family is going to the beach to watch the sunrise. Is it necessary to put life jackets on the kids?
As a parent, you need to use your best judgment. If your child can’t swim and is on the curious side and tends to wander off quickly, you may want to consider wearing a life jacket on them even though you’re only looking at the sunrise together. Accidents happen fast and can become devastating to a family.
Is it necessary to have both a buckle and zipper closure on my child’s life jacket?
It is not a requirement to have both a buckle and zipper closure but can be beneficial to your child’s safety. On occasions, zippers or buckles do break which would leave you child unsafe. If you have both closures, you will have a back up if something should happen. However, it is not advisable to keep wearing a life jacket for kids once a closure has broken.
Can life jackets for kids be rented?
Yes, all charter boats and rental places have life jackets available for all passengers aboard. Another option would be: If your child insists on their friend going along, try using a loaner program for the extra life jacket that you require. Sometimes, it may not pay to buy a new life jacket for a one time trip to the beach.
Keeping your child safe comes naturally for parents. A life jacket for kids can be the extra set of hands that you need by the water. This wraps up the five best life jackets for kids in 2019. In this review, we offered a few tips on how to introduce and encourage your child about wearing a life jacket. At the beginning of this review, there are five products mentioned with a list of their features, pros, and cons.
It also has details on what each product has to offer when it comes to the safety of your child. Further down in this review, each feature is listed with a summary of its role to keep your child afloat. If that’s not enough for you to decide on one of these products, then you will be happy to know there is also another list of features that we strongly suggest to look for in a life jacket for kids.