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The Best Baby Life Jackets


With the warm weather comes all the fun of water play. It can be so refreshing and relaxing to take the family to the pool, lake, or beach. But, being near the water with the kids also brings the need to be prepared and safe at all times. Safety is absolutely paramount, especially when it comes to little ones who do not yet know water safety!

One of the most important safety items you will need to outfit your family with is a quality, coast guard approved infant life jacket. It can be particularly challenging to find a comfortable and effective life jacket for the littlest one in the family. 

After comparing and reviewing many options for baby life jackets, I have compiled a list to help you find the best baby life jacket for your little one.

The Top 7 Best Baby Life JacketsWhy It's BestMom Rating
Stohlquist Waterware Infant PFD 8-30 lbsGreat head support for the littlest of babies, not bulky, high quality♥♥♥♥♥
Full Throttle Infant Baby Safe VestUnique shape gives awesome head support.♥♥♥♥♥
STEARNS Infant Puddle JumperCoast guard approved and the infant version to the classic toddler puddle jumper.♥♥♥♥♥
Salus Bijoux Baby VestFeatures mesh and webbing; Allows baby to lay on back comfortably.♥♥♥♥
O'Neill Infant Superlite USCG Life VestAlways keeps baby's face out of water, flips baby to the back/face up to prevent drowning.♥♥♥♥

The Top 7 Best Baby Life Jackets

Stohlquist Unisex Nemo Infant Life Jacket

Image of the Stohlquist Infant PFD 8-30 lbs, Yellow/Blue

The Stohlquist Unisex Nemo Infant Life Jacket is my top pick for our best baby life jacket list.  It is comfortable and, of course, it’s certified by the United States Coast Guard.  The V-shape design in the front helps the infant life jacket stay in place and not in your baby’s face. For additional peace of mind, the crotch strap helps prevent the life vest from slipping over your baby’s head if the other straps are not tightly secured enough.

One of the main reasons this option stands out as one of the best life jackets for infants is that it has two foams specifically for your baby’s neck support.  A few other notable details on the Stohlquist Infant Life Jacket are the crotch strap to secure the jacket in place, a quick-release buckle, and a convenient grab handle. Other experienced moms also note that this life jacket properly fits their babies as young as eight weeks old likely due to the additional foam padding that supports the smallest of babies. It fits infants from eight to thirty pounds and comes in six stylish highly visible color patterns.

Full Throttle Infant Baby-Safe Vest

Full Throttle Infant Baby-Safe Life Jacket

This baby life jacket has a really unique upside-down teardrop shape. The Full Throttle Infant Baby-Safe Vest is specifically designed to help your baby stay on their back. It keeps their head in the center of the life vest, up above the water, while the rest of their body floats underneath the vest and in the water. This infant life vest works well for babies under 30 pounds. It’s a type II Coast Guard-approved vest, so it’ll keep you legal while boating or doing other activities around the water.

The collar on this is oversized and does a great job of supporting the back of your baby’s head. There is an adjustable buckle strap on the side of the collar, right by baby’s neck. This makes getting your infant in and out a lot easier. Another perk is that the elasticized bottom strap isn’t just a skinny nylon strap, it’s like a thicker fabric strap that saddles in between baby’s legs and across their back. There’s a grab strap at the top of the collar if needed.

To get baby in and out, you just unbuckle the neck strap, unbuckle the chest strap, and stick baby inside the vest. Then close up the straps and get them as tight as is comfortable, and you are good to go! Many smaller babies will find this vest design to be a lot more comfortable than other choices.

I think the price is just right for a baby product with this sort of lifespan. Older babies (9 months+) with more mobility will definitely not like this life vest because it limits how much your baby could move around.  Like many life vests, this has the annoying tendency to slide up and stay right around baby’s chin and mouth, but the proper fitting of the life vest should help minimize this.

STEARNS Infant Puddle Jumper 

STEARNS Puddle Jumper Infant Hydroprene Life Jacket, Green

The STEARNS Infant Puddle Jumper is the infant version of the classic toddler puddle jumper model that you may already be familiar with. It is designed for babies weighing less than 30 pounds.

This life jacket is US Coast Guard-approved and includes the oversized head support panel (with grab handle) to help encourage face-up floatation. The full vest design features a buckle on the side and a zipper in the back, making it easy to get your little one in and out of the life vest. For an even better fit, there are two leg straps that can be adjusted as well.

There are mixed reviews on this puddle jumper. Some parents love it! On the other hand, some parents say it’s not good for chunky babies and that babies cannot remain upright in the water but instead fall back or forward.

Salus Bijoux Baby Vest

Salus Bijoux Baby Vest - Pink

The Salus Bijoux Baby Vest is created for babies weighing 9 pounds to 25 pounds and it comes in five different colors: Blue, Lime, Pink, Red, or Yellow.

Unlike most life vests, this vest features a lot of mesh and webbing for venting and comfort. A liner, called the Dry-Lex Aerospacer Liner, helps with breathability, drainage, temperature control, and comfortability. The back of the vest is mesh, allowing baby to lay comfortably on their back in a carrier or blanket to rest. The Salus Bijoux Baby Vest is a winner of the Canadian Safe Boating Award for Best New Safety Product. 

Parents really love this baby vest and how it doesn’t scrunch their baby’s face up when they’re wearing it. The only downfall that is mentioned is the higher price.

O’Neill Infant USCG Vest

O'Neill Infant USCG Vest (Pacific/Yellow/Pacific)

This O’Neill Infant USCG Vest is designed with babies and toddlers under thirty pounds in mind. There’s a handle strap at the head of the life vest and the bright blue/yellow color or pink/purple design helps with a quick location.

The dual adjustable buckles allow you to secure your infant into the life vest well. Keep in mind that this vest does not include a zipper, something you may be wanting in an infant life vest.

As for reviews, parents say that this O’Neill Infant USCG Vest seems pretty big on their little ones. On the other hand, parents with children who are 10+ months old seem to like the fit of this vest on their children. 

Airhead Infant Life Vest

AIRHEAD DUCKIE Infant Vest

The Airhead Infant Life Vest is rated for infants from fifteen to thirty pounds and comes in two different cute animal options: Duckie or Hippo. The bright yellow and blue colors seem to be the most highly visible colors in my opinion. The adjustable buckle straps are helpful so that you can tighten to the right fit for your baby’s size.

As required by the United States Coast Guard for this type of infant life jacket, it also has a grab strap in the event you might need to pull your child from the water quickly and easily. One of my favorite features is the foam collar that offers additional head and neck support for your baby not only in water but also on dry land.

STEARNS Classic Series Infant Life Vest

Image of the Stearns Classic Series Infant Vest

The STEARNS Classic Series Infant Life Vest is Coast Guard approved which means it comes with all the typical features of an infant vest like a crotch strap as well as padding behind the head to keep your baby’s neck and head safe. The design is high quality and the price point is great for many families.

Some reviews say that this is not the most comfortable life vest for some children because it can tend to touch your baby’s face. Yet, the thick padding that is above and behind the neck keeps your baby’s head safely out of the water.  It is ideally designed for infants weighing less than thirty pounds.

This is great to prevent accidental drowning. Some parents say it is difficult to teach your little one to swim with this type of life vest and it is perfectly intended for protecting your baby while boating and not necessarily floating vertically in the pool. If not actively learning to swim, it is great to introduce little ones to the water safely. It’s not a great toddler life jacket because of the shape.

Safety Consideration for the Best Baby Life Vest

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resource warns that not all babies are safe in a life vest. They write:

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 heads in relation to their body mass. If your infant is a newborn, please consider waiting until the baby is a little older before taking them boating.

Always test your selected life vest on your baby in a safe and supervised situation. Babies, toddlers, and children should never be around water without attentive adult supervision.

Considerations for Choosing the Best Baby Life Jacket

  • United States Coast Guard seal of approval
  • Neck and head support to keep your baby’s face above water at all times
  • A crotch strap to help the life vest stay in place
  • A grab handle to be able to quickly pull your baby out of the water
  • Proper fit is necessary so that the vest is not too loose. Your baby can slip too far down into the water if not tight enough. To test the fit on your baby, pull your little up by the vest shoulders to be sure his or her chin and ears will not slip out.
  • Faceup Floating Life Vest is particularly necessary for infants and toddlers to prevent drowning.

FAQ’S about Life Jackets for Babies

If I am holding my baby, do I need to provide a life jacket?

Drowning deaths are highest among children from infant to four years old. Adult supervision and life vests are your child’s best protection from accidental drowning.

“Every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger. Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States.”

If you are at the beach, you can use a baby beach tent while baby is onshore, and put the life jacket on for when they go into the water. And don’t forget a baby sun hat to protect their little face!

How long will an infant life jacket work effectively?

Honestly, it depends on how you take care of the life vest. More than likely, your child will outgrow the weight restrictions before it wears out. Before counting on a life vest to keep your baby above water, test it with your little one in a safe and supervised situation. Never assume the life vest is effective from season to season.

If you find your infant has outgrown the life vest, try Stearns Original Puddle Jumper Kids Life Jacket as a toddler life jacket. They’re awesome!

Conclusion for the Best Infant Life Jacket

I like each of these options that made our Best Baby Life Jacket list. Each one is certified by the United States Coast Guard so you can rest easy. You must make sure the fit is right for your baby even if weight requirements are met.

Overall, my top pick was the Stohlquist Infant PFD 8-30 lbs because parents confidently use it safely on small infants as young as eight weeks while some of the others on our list work for babies who need to be a little older and weigh a little more.

Have a blast this summer with your little one in the water! This is your only summer with him or her as a baby! Enjoy it!


Amy Sylvestre
Amy Sylvestre

Amy is a writer, mom, and southerner living in the suburbs of Chicago. She has also worked for several large non-profit organizations. Amy is married to her hunky pilot husband, and they have two sons, Graham and Hudson. Graham is a hilarious, talkative, four and half year old. After a strong fight with congenital heart disease, Hudson passed away at eight months old. Amy is also in the process of growing her family through adoption.



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