What Are The Best Infant Life Jackets?

Infant Life Jackets

You love your little guy or girl more than words can express. It’s your job to take care of your child and you want to do your very best. These feelings come to the forefront when you begin searching for infant life jackets.

If you just had your first baby, you may be wondering how your love for the water will work with your new addition. Some people initially think that mixing babies with water is irresponsible. The truth is it’s only irresponsible if proper safety measures are not considered and implemented.

Some who haven’t looked for a life vest designed for babies wonder if there are good options available. Once they find that there are, they can tend to feel a bit overwhelmed with all the choices out there.

Read on to find the perfect infant life jacket within your budget, that will keep your infant safe and comfortable.

The Best Infant Life Jackets

Editors Choice
Oceans7 Infant Life Jacket
Oceans7 Infant Life Jacket
Best Value
Stearns Infant Classic Series Vest
Stearns Infant Classic Series Vest
Low Price Favorite
Airhead Infant  Life Vest
Airhead Infant Life Vest

Infant Life Jacket Reviews

Here’s the complete list of the 5 best infant life jackets you should consider. There’s plenty of them to consider, but we’ve got very tight guidelines on what we put our own child in, which is the same criteria we used to build this list. So many of the most popular infant life jackets didn’t meet our criteria and weren’t considered.

While researching Infant flotation devices, we took a close look at the guidelines laid down by the United States Coast Guard.

We ensured that all of the life jackets featured were suitable for infants (i.e under 30 lbs) and were all rated Type-II or Type-III personal flotation devices.

You can find the summary above and read on for reviews of each design.

I’ve listed the best life jackets I’d consider putting on my kid. They are all:

  1. U.S. Coast Guard approved, Type II or Type III
  2. Fit infants (up to 30 lbs)
  3. They are standard PFD’s (non-inflatable)

Oceans7 Infant Life Jacket

Oceans7 Infant Life Jacket
  • Coast Guard Approved: Yes
  • Type: Type-II
  • Colors: 2 (that fit Infants). One in blue and the other in Pink
  • Size: 8 – 30 lbs

The Oceans7 Infant Life Jacket is our Editors Choice this year. It’s the most popular Type II PFD on the market by a wide margin. For a Type II the fit is decently comfortable for infants. One of the big issues is rubbing around the neck and when fitted properly, Oceans7 doesn’t have this issue like other PFD’s.

I highly recommend this model! 


Stearns Infant Classic Series Vest

Stearns Infant Classic Series Vest
  • Coast Guard Approved: Yes
  • Type: Type III
  • Colors: 3, Blue, Red, Yellow
  • Size: 8 – 30 lbs

The Stearns Infant Classic Series Vest is this years Best Value. It’s only a Type III but it is a great one to use for those kids that just can’t get comfortable in a Type II or the primary use is in a controlled environment (like your swimming pool at home). It has great full arm mobility, a grab handle (if you need to move the infant around or rescue them quickly), and large arm holes to prevent chafing. 

This is my #1 choice if I couldn’t use a Type II on my infant, or for those environments I’d be comfortable using a Type III. 


The Stearns Infant Classic is Coast Guard approved and comes with all the typical features of an infant vest. This includes a crotch strap as well as well as padding behind the head to keep your baby safe. This one is generally not considered the most comfortable option out there.

Despite this, the design is  high quality and the price is right for many families. Along with the Coleman vest (above), this is a great budget life 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
  • Designed for infants weighing less than 30 pounds
  • US Coast Guard-approved life jacket
  • Great for a day on the boat or beach and in the pool or lake
  • For use on a boat, a personal watercraft or for tow sports
  • Rescue handle to easily move the infant from the water or the boat
  • Adjustable chest strap, a zipper, an adjustable leg strap and closed sides for a better fit
  • Durable construction: nylon shell, PE foam, webbed straps
  • Specially fitted for infants under 30 lbs.

Stohlquist Infant Life Jacket

Stohlquist Infant Life Jacket
  • Coast Guard Approved: Yes
  • Type: Type III
  • Colors: 2, Red and Blue
  • Size: Under 30 lbs

The Stohlquist Infant Life Jacket didn’t win any awards but it is our #3 pick on this years list. Great quality from a reputable name brand. There have been complaints about fakes, so for sanity sake, I’d suggest buying ones that are shipped and sold by amazon.com. It has great fit and is sized well. Like any life jacket, make sure you read the manual from front to back and make sure the fit is done properly. And then test it in the water for your own peace of mind. 


Airhead Infant Life Vest

Airhead Infant  Life Vest
  • Coast Guard Approved: Yes
  • Type: Type II
  • Colors: 2, Blue/Yellow and Red/Yellow
  • Size: Less than 30 lbs

The Airhead Infant  Life Vest is this years Low Price Favorite award winner. But don’t let the low price confuse you, this is still a US Coast Guard approved Type II PFD, so you can be assured it will perform as a flotation device. It fits great, has big bang for the buck, as long as you can live with the bright colors. These work great in a lake or the ocean for visibility reasons, but may turn off others due to the brightness.

If you have a fast growing infant, this may be ideal as you’ll be buying a larget 30+ lb life jacket soon. 

Stearns Infant Life Jacket

Stearns Infant Life Jacket
  • Coast Guard Approved: Yes
  • Type: Type II
  • Colors: 1
  • Size: Under 30 lbs

Making our Top 5 list in position 5, the Stearns Infant Puddle Jumper Hydroprene Fish Print Life Jacket is the cutest PFD we have on our list. It’s absolutely adorable while still being a Type II. It fits great but as with most Type II’s, it’s a bit bulky and may be cumbersome for active infants. I still love the design and if that’s what it took to get our infant to wear it, I’d absolutely buy it without any concerns.


Previously Recommended

O’Neill Superlite Infant USCG Vest Review

The O’Neil Superlite Infant Life Vest flips babies onto their backs should they fall into the water. It’s also more comfortable than the Stearns option. It features a crotch strap and handles on the sides. The neck support inflates giving extra comfort and safety.

They price of this infant flotation device is very reasonable for safety and comfort provided.


  • US Coast Guard Approved Type II PFD for babies up to 30 lbs body weight
  • Comfortable nylon shell over closed cell PVC marine foam shaped to float baby face-up
  • Adjustable safety belts with durable Delrin quick-release buckles and handy grab loop on the head cushion
  • Soft and comfortable. Adjustable safety belt between the legs keeps vest secure.
  • Durable exterior, nylon panels with PVC backing. Improved ease of entry and Ultraviolet protection.

Kidder Infant Life jacket Review

The Kidder Infant is at the high-end of the market but it’s proving a winner with parents. There’s always a trade-off between safety and comfort and with the kidder you can get both.

This infant life jacket is made from soft foam.  Many parents are reporting their children don’t fuss and find it easy to drift off to sleep.

It’s not recommended for swimming, but if you’re looking for a very comfortable PFD, this is it. You can also get a really cute pink color, which you’re little girl will just love!


  • Fits infants less then 30lbs
  • Hinged pop-up pillow
  • Leg strap and grab handle
  • Soft comfortable foam

Coleman Infant PFD Review

In the boating world, you can’t get much better than Coleman. A trusted American brand, their infant PFD is safe and comfortable for babies under 30lbs.

What I particularly like about this one is it has closed sides which a lot of designs don’t. This adds a feeling of warmth and security. It also has adjustable chest and leg straps to help it fit your infant perfectly.

At around half-the-price of it’s competitors, you’ll be hard pressed to buy a better infant life jacket for the money.


  • All cross Tech foam
  • Close sided vest
  • Specifically designed for little ones
  • US Coast Guard-approved life jacket
  • Great for a day on the boat or beach and in the pool or lake
  • For use on a boat, a personal watercraft or for tow sports
  • Specially fitted for infants under 30 lbs.
  • Rescue handle to easily move the infant from the water or the boat
  • Adjustable chest strap, a zipper, an adjustable leg strap and closed sides for better fit
  • Durable construction: nylon shell, PE foam, webbed straps

Stohlquist Unisex Nemo Infant Life Jacket Review

The Stohlquist infant life jacket has a V-cut in the front so the vest won’t rub against your child’s face. This one is not as bulky as the Stearns. It makes for a sleeker fit that will be especially appreciated if your infant will be wearing it for an extended period of time.

Like most life vests for babies, it includes a crotch strap, is USCG certified and has grab handles. This makes for a more comfortable option.

Parents with babies as young as eight weeks give this one great reviews. Therefore, if you’re looking for a life vest for a newborn instead of an infant, this is the one to get.

When Can a Baby Go On A Boat?

There are varying opinions as to when babies should be taken into the water of a pool or on a watercraft. Some sources you look at will say within a few weeks of age and others will recommend considerably longer.

For instance here’s an excerpt from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource on their stance:

Some infants are too small for any life jacket, even though the label may say 0-30 lbs. In general, babies under 6 months or 16 pounds are too small for a life jacket to be effective due to the extreme size of their head in relationship to their body mass. If your infant is newborn, please consider waiting until the baby is a little older before taking them boating.

The US Coast Guard’s recommendations on the matter are very similar to that of the Minnesota DNR. They advise testing an infant PFD (personal flotation device) out in a swimming pool before going boating. It’s important to check if the infant can float in a stable, face-up position comfortably.

Ultimately, as long as you are within the legal requirements of your area, the choice is up to you. There’s no need to feel peer pressure because someone else has differing ideas than you about what age to have your baby around water with a life vest.

What Type of PDF Life Jackets Is Best?

A PFD (Personal Flotation Device) is designed to help you stay afloat in water. A PFD is also called a life jacket or life vest.

There are 2 types of vests you can buy, a standard (non-inflatable) or a non-standard (inflatable) PFD. For kids, even though they’re super convenient when traveling, I don’t recommend inflatable PFD’s for most situations.

I also recommend only buying U.S. Coast Guard approved PFD’s. They have 5 classifications:

  1. Type I: Offers the best protection, can turn most people face-up in water, most can keep their head above water without treading water, but are usually very bulky and uncomfortable. Generally, Type I PFD’s are not publicly available.
  2. Type II: Offers good protection, can turn some people face-up in water, often requires wearer to do some level of treading water to keep head above water. More comfortable than a Type I but provides far less flotation.
  3. Type III: Offers OK protection, not designed to turn unconscious wearers face-up in water. Less flotation than a Type I or Type II but way more comfortable.
  4. Type IV: Not to be worn, designed to thrown to a person requiring assistance in the water, like someone fell overboard. Not for children.
  5. Type V: A special class of PFD for use in very specific situations.

How Safe Are Infant Life Jackets?

Some life vests for babies are considered safer than others. The reality is that if they weren’t consistently safe to a certain standard, the company selling them would be sued out of existence. If the courts didn’t finish the job, the negative press certainly would.

A good comparison is car seats for children. Parents recognize that all models are safe to a certain standard. However, if they can get one that is considered safer than others that is still in their price range, they’ll go for it. The same holds true for life vests for babies.

It really is important to consider the US Coastguard’s recommendations with safety. They advise that a Type 11 Infant PFD be purchased and then immediately tested in a swimming pool.

How Much Are The Best Infant Life Jackets?

Like most baby products, there’s a lot of infant life jackets to choose from. If you want to spend top dollar, there are companies who can provide some really high-quality designs. If you’re on a tighter budget, there are options for you, too.

Like anything, you generally get what you pay for. Many weigh-up the “Cost-per-use” with the frightening speed infants grow and opt for a mid-range model.

Depending on size, you can pick a brand-new infant life jacket up for around $12. A high-end variety will cost around $50. You can check here to see current bestsellers.

Be sure to check out our recommendations for further advice.

Should I Buy A Type II or Type III Life Jacket?

As mentioned above, if you can, I’d recommend only using a Type II. With them being able to turn most unconscious wearers face up is very comforting, especially with rowdy kids. But I do understand they can be bulky and uncomfortable and they may refuse to wear them.

The next best alternative are Type III’s. They are the most popular type purchased mainly because they are way more comfortable.

The strategy I’d suggest to friends and family are to use a Type II in a controlled environment (ie your pool) and use a Type III if traveling. But if you’re in an open ocean type of environment, only a Type III.

Sizes of Infant Life Jackets

When considering an infant life jacket, it’s important to understand how manufacturer’s size “Newborns”, “Infants” and “Toddlers”.

Generally, babies are considered newborns from zero to three months. From three months to a year, babies are considered infants before moving on to the toddler stage after that. As well as age, weight plays a factors too. It’s common to find life vests for infants  “under 30 lbs” and over 30 lbs is targeted at the toddler market.

As with all things baby, it really depends on your individual child. That’s why reading reviews is a must as parents report how well the life vest fitted their own baby. Comments like, “My baby is 6 months old and a bit on the small side but this life jacket fitted well” are really helpful.

For kids, there are primarily 3 sizes:

  • Infant PFDs: 8–30 pounds
  • Child PFDs: 30–50 pounds
  • Youth PFDs: 50–90 pounds

Gender-Neutral Saves Money!

If you plan to have (or are surprised by!) more children, choosing a gender-neutral color is a smart idea. This will prevent you from having to buy another life vest for your son because his older sister had a pretty pink one. Keeping this in mind can save you a decent chunk of money and needless inconvenience in the future.

How Long Will An Infant Life Jacket Last?

infant life

The reality with any life vest for newborns or infants is that, almost without exception, your child, will outgrow it before they wear it out. This means you will likely pass it on through a garage sale, a charitable donation, family member or friend. If you have more children, they will likely wear it after the child you bought it for.

As a result, you are likely not purchasing it just to keep your baby safe. There will likely be other babies who use what you purchase. You want to make sure everyone will be as safe as they possibly can be.

Infant Life Jacket Comfort

Choosing a comfortable life jacket is difficult as our aren’t able to tell you they feel uncomfortable. If they can’t tell you in words that they are unhappy, they will have to tell you by crying. Of course, this will be unpleasant to parent and child alike.

Again, it makes good sense to test the life vest out first in a swimming pool. This way, you’ll be able to closely monitor their reactions in a somewhat controlled environment (kids pool can and do get a little crazy at times!).

Safety Trumps Comfort & Convenience

Some parents wrongly assume that it’s “good enough” to keep their newborn in a car seat while boating. True, it may be more convenient for the parent and more comfortable for the child. The problem is, though, if you were faced with an emergency while on the water, the car seat containing your little angel would sink.

This is the battle of comfort and convenience versus safety which is a constant reality for both children and adults alike. It can be inconvenient and uncomfortable for children to be buckled in car seats at all times while in commute on the highway. As long as the life jacket is comfortable enough to wear, safety should always take precedence.

Environmental Factors

Always keep in mind that environmental factors will impact the comfort of your child too. Children, and to the greatest degree, babies, cannot withstand the same elements that adults can and remain comfortable or safe.
Water and air temperature, adequate food, shelter from intense sunlight as well as mosquitoes are just a few environmental factors to consider when boating with your child.

You’ll feel good about making a well-thought-out choice for the best infant life jacket. You’ll also have increased confidence to know that they are at the right stage developmentally to be introduced to the water.

Now go out there and build some memories!

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