We live in Minnesota, land of 10,000 beautiful, glorious lakes. We have multiple lake cabins and boats in the family and we live in a river town. Water is just a part of our lives. I knew from day one we would need the best infant life jacket for my own sanity and our son’s safety. There are so many options out there, good and bad, and so many safety issues to take into consideration. Before making a purchase I did tons of research (because that’s my thing if you haven’t gathered that from previous posts). I found out what to look for and what makes the best infant life jacket. This is what you need to know to make an educated decision and what we determined to be the best infant life vest for babies less than 30lbs.
The Best Infant Life Jacket for Babies Less Than 30lbs
There are several things that you simply must have in an infant life jacket. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) outlines what makes a life vest USCG approved (which you want because it means the personal floatation device has been tested by the USCG).
Some key things to look for when purchasing the best infant life vest:
- Type II infant PFD which is intended for near-shore, inland use where there is a chance for quick rescue. USCG recommends Type II for all infants. (Type I life jackets are very bulky and are typically for far off-shore ocean use on commercial vessels.)
- No padding on the back of the life vest. Padding should only be on the front of an infant life jacket as to turn the baby face up in the water. This is a key point in choosing and keeping the best infant life jacket. It is best to test the jackets ability to turn your child face up in a tub or pool before using the life vest.
- Bright colors that will stand out in the water. Choose bright yellow, orange, pink, for clear visibility in the water. Do NOT buy a blue life jacket. It will blend in with the surrounding water.
- Crotch strap to hold the infant life vest in place and stop it from slipping off over their head in the water.
- Neck and head support to stabilize the head of a young infant and keep the head and face above water.
- Proper fit is snug enough to stay on when Baby is submerged in water but not too tight as to restrict breathing. Test the fit by lifting your child by the life jacket shoulders to ensure the head doesn’t slip inside the life jacket.
- A Handle that’s easy to find at the top of the vest so it’s easy to pull the infant out of the water.
- Comfortable Fit for your child is also VERY important. You might think that’s silly but if your child is unwilling to wear the life jacket or doesn’t like wearing it, it can either lead to unsafe use of the infant life jacket or a miserable time for everyone.
The USCG also suggests: “You should test your PFD in a swimming pool. Test it with the infant or child who will be wearing the PFD. Just because it works for one infant or child does not mean it will work for another in the same manner.” you can read the full USCG Selection Guide for more details.
My 2 Top Picks for the Best Infant Life Vest
In my opinion, a life jacket for babies is not the place to cut on costs. That goes for anything safety related actually, especially when we’re talking about the difference of $25 from a lower quality to a high-quality life jacket. Since that’s less than it costs me to go to dinner with my husband, I decided it was worth it to get a top rated infant life vest. There are 2 really great options for infant personal flotation devices. Both will last up to 30lbs making them fairly long term which helps justify the slightly higher cost.
Both of these life vests have very good reviews and they both had reviews stating the purchaser tested the life vests ability to turn over their child so they were face up in water with success.
The prices on these infant life jackets vary greatly from week to week. They are both of equal quality in my opinion so we chose the one that was available on Amazon at the time and the one with the lower cost. As long as it works for your child, you really can’t go wrong with either of them.
O’Neill Wake Waterski Infant Life Vest
The O’Neill Wake Waterski Infant Life Vest Meets all the requirements listed above, is USCG tested and approved, and has a low cut v neck for the child’s comfort. This is the life vest we have for our son and wearing it doesn’t even faze him. We choose the yellow color so it will stand out in the water and so it’s unisex in case we have a second child.
The Stohlquist Nemo Infant Life Jacket PFD also meets all the requirements for the best infant life jacket I have listed above. If you choose to go with this option, I would suggest the yellow color because it will stand out in the water the best.
Runner Up Choice for Moderately Priced, Top Rated Infant Life Vests
If you’re looking for a top rated infant life vest at a lower price, I would recommend the Sterns Infant Classic Series Life Vest. It meets most of the requirements listed above but has been known to be less comfortable for babies and it isn’t available in a bright (yellow or orange) color which is why it didn’t make my main list. It is, however, a top rated, moderately priced life jacket for babies.
Sterns Infant Classic Series Life Vest
Which of my picks for the best infant life jacket did you choose and how did it fit your little one?
Let me know in the comments below!
Now that your little one is covered for your trip to the lake, check out my top post on the best swimsuits for moms!
Until next time,