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5 Best Life Vests For Toddlers

We all want what’s best for our little ones, and if this is your first time taking your children on a vacation, then a life vest is mandatory, well, of course, if you want to keep your kids or grandkids safe at all time, even at the backyard pool, a toddler life vest would be an ideal choice.

Maybe you haven’t really thought of this, but toddler life jackets are really helpful, what if your child falls face down into the water, or even worse, a toddler life vest would simply be a lifesaver.

In this article, I’ve compiled a list of the 5 best life vests for toddlers, they are only suitable for toddlers while we chose them based on quality, comfort, and of course, budget, because how much money you’re willing to spend on a product really matters. Okay, now, let’s get started with the reviews.

The Top 5 Best Life Vests For Toddlers

5. O’Neill Wake Waterski Infant USCG Vest

This is one of my favorite life vests out there, my son has personally used it and all I can say is that it delivers great comfort and a perfect fit.

First, let’s start by pointing out a couple of interesting facts about the design, shall we? You can get this model in Amazon if four different colors, starting from yellow/pacific/coal which we are currently reviewing, pet/wht/col, neon yellow/neon orange/coral, and navy/pink/white. However, take in mind that no matter what you choose, all of them will serve your child great, and all of them share equal features and a comfortable fit.

Although it’s important to note that this life vest can accommodate babies with up to 30 lbs body weight, so that’s something you’ll have to keep in mind before purchasing this product.

Now, if you remember from our introduction, we mentioned that there are 5 different types of life vests, and if you’re wondering, this one is a US Coast Guard Approved Type II PFD life vest, so yeah, it’s safe, it has a comfortable fit, and it’s suitable for your child.

In terms of aesthetics, this particular model features a comfortable nylon shell over closed-cell PVC marine foam shaped, while if you’re wondering, this will effectively float your baby face-up.

But that’s not all, what I also like about this life vest is its adjustable safety belts with durable Delrin quick-release buckles along with a handy grab loop on the head cushion. The adjustable safety belt between the legs will add an extra layer of security and keep the fest stable.

Moreover, in terms of durability, you’ll also like the fact that this vest will last you for years due to its strong exterior, and the nylon panels with PVC backing. You can even use the same life vest for your second or third child since it will last for many years to come. More on that part, the O”Neill Superelite has also improved ease of entry and Ultraviolet protection.

To conclude, if you’re looking for a mid-range life vest for toddlers, then there’s no better option that the O”Neill Superelite. It’s stylish, it has a comfortable fit, and it’s pretty durable, so that’s pretty much everything you could ever ask for.

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4. Stearns Original Puddle Jumper 

Checking up next, at number 4, we have the Stearns Original Puddle Jumper. This is one of the most highly-rated life vests on Amazon, and one of the main reasons for that is quality and the comfortable fit. What’s also great about this life vest is the budget-friendly price, it’s basically one of the cheapest life vests out there which don’t sacrifice quality nor value for it.

Design-wise, you can get this particular model in twenty different variants, starting from Cancun Starfish which we are currently reviewing, bluefish, blueberry, Cancun crab, Cancun octopus, Cancun pink clam, Cancun shark, Cancun whale, coral fish, fish hearts, green fish, green smile, hero, mixed fruit, orange, orange smile, pink fish, pink smile, red watermelon, and splash, woah that was a lot of variants.

So as you can see, you can pretty much find something that your child likes, although take in mind that no matter what you choose, all of them share the same quality, and color is the only thing that makes them different.

Just like we started with our first product, we are going to define each product in which life vest category type falls, so for the Stearns Original Puddle Jumper, this one has been tested and approved by the U.S Coast Guard for use as Type V/III, so as you can see, it will fit your child comfortably and it will keep him/her secure at all times.

But that’s not all, the Stearns Original Puddle Jumper also meets all the requirements for use on boats, in public pools, and at water parks that require Coast Guard-approved devices.

Now, to continue, we’ll say something about its design, starting with the nylon shell. As we mentioned above, nylon shell adds extra durability to life vests, which means that the same as our first product, this one will also last you for many years to come.

During my research, I found out that many parents were mainly attracted by this life vest due to the design that the manufacturer has implemented on them, basically, there are a plethora of playful designs that do not only make the water safe for your kids but also entertaining and fun.

Moreover, with the Stearns Original Puddle Jumper, any parent will have a peace of mind since this particular model’s safety buckle snaps in the back to keep kids from taking vests off on their own, while all you need to do is to make sure that you’ve tightened the adjustable strap for a secure fit.

Overall, you won’t really find a better budget-friendly yet quality and feature-rich life vest, they are pretty attractive for kids, and they sure do provide anyone with a comfortable fit, so yes, if you’ve been looking for something similar, then this would be your best pick.

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3. Speedo Kids’ UPF 50+ Begin to Swim

As we continue, at number 3, we have yet another budget-friendly life vest for toddlers, the Speedo Kids’ UPF 50+ Begin to Swim. This one doesn’t really look like the other life vests that you’ve seen out there, but we’ll get to it in just a bit.

In terms of the design, you can get this model in 6 different colors, starting from blue which we are currently reviewing, berry/grape, fuschia, lime/orange, purple, and sapphire blue. Just like with all the other models that we’ve mentioned, take in mind that here as well colors don’t change the quality of the vest.

I personally chose the blue color because the drawing on it looks fun to kids, it’s a shark underneath the water followed by an open blue sky, while on the other side of the vest you can see the speedo logo which also looks aesthetically pleasing.

There are a lot of advantages that come along with this vest, starting from the UV50+ sun protection capabilities from the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays, and take in mind that kids can be easily prone to such sunburns, and they’re not to be taken easily.

Now, in terms of quality, you’ll be happy to know that this particular model features a soft, durable neoprene construction for warmth and buoyancy, so you can already get the idea of how comfortable your child will be wearing this life vest.

To continue, on the front part of the vest, you’ll notice a full front zipper which means that you can easily take it on or off from your child with almost no effort. Although that’s not really the best part, what makes me like this vest, even more, is the safety strap with buckle closure. So, we all know that our kids can be troublesome, and of course, they can get their vests of by themselves if they wish too, which is why you always have to take extra precautions. So, this safety strap with buckle closure will make sure that your kids wear the vest securely, while not letting your child take it off on his/her own, pretty impressive, right?

Before we end, it’s also important to note that you have to choose the correct size when buying the Speedo Kids’, you can pretty much do that while purchasing on Amazon. Just to give you an idea, a medium sizing of this vest will accommodate children from 2 to up to 4 years, and it can hold a weight capacity of 33 to up to 45lbs, while large sizing will accommodate children from 4 to up to 6 years, and it can hold a weight capacity from 45 to up to 60lbs.

Overall, that’s pretty much everything you need to know, and if you’re looking for a simple and reliable life vest for your child, this budget-friendly masterpiece will do the job perfectly.

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2. Stohlquist Toddler  

The Stohquist Toddler is a relatively new product, however, it has managed to crawl on top of the chain due to its perfect aesthetics and quality. It’s one of the safest life vests for toddlers out there, however, don’t let anyone fool you, this is not a budget-friendly life vest, it has an expensive price and it ranks amongst the premium ones.

Starting from the design, same as with all the other life vests that we’ve mentioned, you can also get this one in nine different color variants, but take in mind that no matter what you choose, all of them share the same quality.

For this article, we chose the Blue and black combo variant, it looks minimalistic, simple and elegant, while the other options include aqua/pink, blue/green, blue/yellow, lime/yellow, orange/yellow, pink/purple, yellow/blue, and the red/white/blue combo. So as you can see, you get plenty of options to choose from, and you can always find the one that looks more aesthetically pleasing to you and your child.

Just like we have defined all the other vests, the Stohlquist Toddler is a US Coast Guard Approved Type II PFD with sea level buoyancy of 7lbs, so that’s something you should keep in mind before purchasing this life vest.

In terms of aesthetics, this particular model was built with security and comfort in mind, it has fully adjustable straps and an easy entry front zipper with a security buckle to ensure the best fit. Therefore, this PDFs design will allow your child to freely move on the water without any problems.

What I also like about this life vest is the convenient grab handle that is designed to stay open in water, and that’s all in case of an emergency, it allows for an easy rescue.

Furthermore, this particular model has full arm mobility so your child can play and swim at the same time, while on the other hand, the double collard cradle child’s head yet allows the child for full movement, pretty fascinating, right?

Now, this type of life vest is for those people that are after brand reputation, Stohlquist has been around for decades and it has definitely contributed in many innovations to the world of water and paddlesports safety.

By having your child wear the right PDF, you can easily teach them to use it properly, and help them learn swimming from the early stage, however, it’s important to mention that a PDF is not a substitute for adult supervision, you should never leave a child alone in the water, make sure there’s always some who watches over your child.

All and all, if you’re looking for a premium type 2 life vest, then this would be your ideal choice.

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1.  Full Throttle Child Water Buddies Life Vest

Last on our list, we have the Full Throttle Child Water Buddies Life Vest. I chose to list this as our number one to go life vest simply because the manufacturer has managed to make a safe, stable, quality and stylish lifevest for a midrange package.

Design-wise, you can get this model in four different versions, whereas the price also differs depending on what you choose, for instance, the one that we are currently reviewing is the Dinosaur, while the other ones tend to be more expensive. Either way, you will still be able to find the one that your child likes the most, and what looks more aesthetically pleasing, entertaining and fun.

For your information, this particular model is a Coast Guard Approved as a Type III life jacket, and during my research, I saw that many people were confused about whether it’s a type II or a type III.

Also, the manufacturer states that this life vest can accommodate children from 30 lbs to up to 50 lbs, however, from what I’ve gathered, customers were reporting that a 50 lbs child will go face down in the water rather than face up, so the manufacturer statement is not as precise or accurate as it seems.

To continue, the Stohlquist includes quick-release buckles and wrap around floatation, which in some sort of way, it keeps the head clear of the water. Although there’s still another thing that needs to be addressed, some people have noticed that the zipper can chafe, nonetheless, there’s still a solution for this if it ever occurs, your child can wear a thin waterproof undershirt. However, take in mind that these issues that I’ve mentioned can only occur if your child is up to 50lbs, less than that, you’ll be good to go without any problems.

As it is standard, this life vest is not a substitute for adult supervision, so make sure there’s always someone around with your child in water or around the pool, even though this life vest provides excellent protection.

Moreover, this life vest is suitable for a variety of vacation experiences, starting from a backyard pool to those where children will be close to open water.

To conclude, if you’re looking for a stylish, safe, comfortable and mid-range life vest that will accommodate your children well, then this model would be your answer.

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Types Of Toddler Life Vests

a toddler wearing a life vest

There are mainly 5 types of life jackets on the market today, and when searching for such products only 3 apply to look for a life jacket for your child.

Type 1: This particular type of jacket is for rough open offshore water, basically it’s for those people who might find themselves stranded for longer periods of time. In other words, you will need such life vests in cases where the water is unpredictable and tough, and what makes type 1 jackets be different from the other on the market is the flotation device which tends to be uncomfortable and bulky, thus, they are not really recommended for children, and you may also have a hard time finding a right size for your child.

Type 2: A type 2 life jacket is suitable for inland water that is mainly calm and where rescue groups are close by. In comparison to the first type, these tend to be more comfortable and less bulky, which means that they are more preferable for toddlers.

Type 3: Similar to type 2, type 3 life vests are more suitable for calm waters and inland water. This type of life vest differs from the others on the market due to their light build, so you can already tell by their lightness that they are pretty comfortable, and your children can wear them for longer periods of time. However, take in mind that your children should wear type 3 jackets only if they are supervised at all times.

Type 4: This is not your typical life vest, it’s not a jacket but it’s a device that you throw such as a life preserver or a life ring. Most commonly, you throw such a device to people that are in distress in the water.


Okay, now that was a lot of information I guess, right?

As we reached the end, now I take it you have enough facts and all the information you need about life vests for toddlers.

As we got our introduction out of the way, I think you know what you have to consider before buying a life vest for your child, and take in mind that those things I’ve mentioned are really important.

Let’s not forget to mention that a life vest is not a substitute for an adult supervisor, so I don’t recommend leaving your child alone near or inside the pool, there should always be someone who looks after him/her.

You can pretty much define what type of life vest you need just by knowing on what kind of vacation are you going, inland, calm water, or just the backyard pool. As we mentioned above, there are primarily 5 types of life vests, and they all differ from one another, so it’s important that you choose the one that meets your requirements the most.

Taking all of these things into consideration means that you’re ensuring you, child, with a comfortable, safe, and stylish life vest, and that pretty much sums it all.

Our editor’s top pick for this article is the Stohlquist Toddler, it’s a premium life vest, and it’s the most comfortable yet the safest one out there, but budget is definitely something you should consider before buying this one.

I hope this article was helpful to you, and if you have any questions regarding this topic, make sure you contact me, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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