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How to Choose Infant & Child Life Jackets


Safety is — of course — the most important factor when choosing a life jacket. You want to make sure your little one is protected while in the water. This guide will give you tips on how to choose the best life jacket for your child.

Infant Life Jackets

  • Buy a U.S. Coast Guard-approved infant life jacket if your child weighs less than 30 pounds.
  • Make sure the jacket has a Type II rating. This means that it includes a head pillow or float collar. These features help keep your baby's head upright and safe from the water.
  • Make sure the jacket also includes a grab-loop that allows you to hold onto your child, and a crotch strap to prevent the jacket from riding up or slipping off over the head.
  • A proper fit is very important in the effectiveness of a life jacket. Because children grow so quickly, test the fit on your child in a pool or water source each time before you take your child on a boat. If the vest doesn't properly fit anymore, it's time to get a new one. Check out the guide
  • Swim vests, inflatable toys, and other floatation devices should never be used in place of a life jacket.

Children's Life Jackets

  • Children's life jackets are made for children who weigh between 30 and 50 pounds.
  • Buy a USCG-approved life jacket with a Type III rating for a child who can swim. Children who cannot swim should wear a jacket with a Type I or Type II rating. These are designed to automatically turn them face upwards in the water.
  • Make sure the jacket also includes a grab-loop that allows you to hold onto your child, and a crotch strap to prevent the jacket from riding up or slipping off over the head.
  • Choose a comfortable jacket to prevent your child from wanting to remove it.

Children Should Always Wear a Life Jacket

Choosing the proper life jacket is the first step in protecting your child in the water. Accidents can happen quickly, so be sure to secure the jacket to your child and have him/her wear one at all times when on a boat or towable.

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