Baby Life Jacket

Updated on April 24, 2012
A.A. asks from Tulsa, OK
13 answers

I'm trying to find a life jacket for this summer for my son, he just turned 1 and is 23 lbs. I wanted the kind that go around your torso and then around each arm with the hope that he could use it more than just 1 summer, but the only ones I can find like that are 2-4 years. The other options were all for bigger kids too. The smallest I could find was a 25-35 lbs kind that was two rectangles of foam that strapped to baby's front and back, but it looked like it would be really uncomfortable and would limit his movement. Any suggestions? I wanted to avoid the one piece kind that he would outgrow by next year (or possibly the end of this year) but I am not seeing many other options!

ETA: Thanks for the advice so far, I will check out Target and REI. We are doing Mommy and Me swimming right now and he absolutely loves it! Big grin the whole time, he only cries when it's time to get out.

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answers from Detroit on

there are just a few types of life jackets out there.. I think the weight classes are up to 30 pounds and then 30-50 pounds..

the smallest life jacket is designed with a handle on the back of the jacket so you can grab hold of the child.. it is also designed to flip the child face up if they fall in the water.

life jackets are not fun.. but they are necessary till the child is a good swimmer.. my kids were skinny so the up to 30 pound jacket fit till age 3.. they are almost 40 pounds now at 5 and 6 .. so the 30-50 pound jacket will fit for several years.

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answers from Seattle on

If this is just for swimming in the pool at your arms length I would just go with the one you like, even if it says 2-4 years. In this case you are looking for a floating toy, not a life jacket.

If you are actually looking for a LIFE JACKET get him a USCG approved life jacket, at this age it should be one that will automatically turn the kid face up and it needs to be the correct weight range.

We have a very active boating community here and you can buy USCG approved life vests all over the place for about $20.
My daughter had one from a very young age and while they seem bulky - it did not bother her too much.
Good luck.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Stop focusing on getting a life jacket he won't outgrow and pay attention to weight and size. This isn't like buying an outfit and making it last a while. Life jackets are supposed to be snug to work, otherwise if they're too loose, the baby will slip out and drown. Kids drown all the time because they're in the wrong size or type of life jacket for their age.

Secondly, for his age, he NEEDS a jacket that supports his head and holds it out of the water should he lose conciousness.

I strongly urge you to contact your local water patrol if you are totally unsure about what type of life jacket is appropriate for your child. Yes they are expensive, but it's an investment that not only is a MUST if you plan on being in the water, but well worth it.

In the interim of getting help on sizing your jacket, read this:

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I think ours is Speedo brand and we got it at Dick's Sporting Goods. It's pink and gray and has both the zipper and the straps and the grab strap on the back. It is neoprene, not the other material. I can't find it online currently. Check ebay.

ETA : It's this one

DD used it for 2 summers and I'm going to see if she can still wear it this summer (she's just about 30 lbs). I like the neoprene vs the crinkly stuff on some other cheaper ones. It has served us well. We took DD in the pool in it to show her how it would hold her head up (baby ones only support baby in a laying on back position). It was comfortable enough that DD slept in it on the boat.

Edit to add: If you want just a floating suit, that's different. If you want something for boat or water safety, you want an approved life vest. Make sure that what you get is applicable to what kind of water you might be in (boating, etc.). I didn't read any reviews but it looks like this is close to the Stearns one that they don't sell anymore.

When we put DD in the lake, we stuck her in a floating ring to keep her upright. in the vest. But for pool time this summer she has a swimsuit thing with inserts that I got at Target.

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answers from Lakeland on

I saw some at Target here in Florida that have the floatation on the chest and back with shoulder straps and a strap between the legs. These are to help kids and toddlers learn to swim. The sides have adjustable elastic so it can be tightened or loosened. I do not know the weight limit but they had three stages.
If you are going to be doing a lot of swimming then look into an infant swimming class. It teaches them to swim to the side of the pool and to float on their backs to rest and/or call for help.


answers from Los Angeles on

You have to go with what is available, uncomfortable or not (and I don't like little ones to be uncomfortable) or that he will possibly outgrow in a year. Some styles aren't appropriate (safe) for them until they reach a certain age, weight and development so aren't made. We had the same situation, but with going out on a boat he HAD to have one. We couldn't find what we "wanted" either, so bought what was available and safest for him.



answers from Bloomington on

If you get on the US Coast Guards website , they have life jacket recommendations. I bought one last year, based on their reccomendation ( son was 1.5 at time). It happened to be the cheapest style & should last him quite a while.



answers from Shreveport on

anxious to hear results....


answers from Denver on

It depends on what kind of life jacket you want. If you just want one to help him around swimming pools they are a lot more flexible at this age. If you are looking for a lake/boating life jacket at this age the only ones you will find are the bulky ones with the crotch strap. If you are looking for a boat one that is flexible and he can use for more than a year i would check out the big name online sites and go with a neoprene one they are a little more flexible


answers from Dothan on

Try going online to West Marine, we were 'liveaboards' & had a 9mt old on the boat alot of the time, that's where we got his jacket from!

Have fun! :)



answers from New York on

LL Bean has a real one up to 30 that has that has a grab strap and a strap between the legs as well. Other real outdoor companies (REI for example) have them as well. If he is only 23# he should easily get 2 years out of it...



answers from Dallas on

Have you tried the one step ahead website? They usually have some good stuff. Be careful about using something for older kids, as it may actually try and turn him on his tummy or upside down when it tries to "right" him. good luck!



answers from Denver on

We have the jacket for my daughter that you are talking about. The one on the arms and that goes around the chest. It is perfect. We got it last year when she was 1 1/2. It will fit her until she is over 50 lbs. I think she was about 25 pounds last summer when we got it. Take your kiddo to try them on. It should fit snuggly so you will want to see if you can pull the strap tight enough. We got ours at Babies R Us.

Hope that helps! I can't wait to go swimming!

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