Introducing your new baby to the water can be both exciting and intimidating. Many babies love splashing and playing in the water, especially on a hot summer’s day. With the help of the best life vest for toddlers, you will be able to enjoy pools and beach days with your little one confidently. Packing a life jacket will help your toddler learn the motions of swimming and gain confidence in the water.

To make summertime more enjoyable for and your child, we have compiled a list of the best baby life jackets in the market. All of the floatation devices below will help your little one to have fun in the water without putting their safety at risk.

Let’s get started.


How To Choose A Toddler Life Jacket—Buying Guide

Type Of Activity 

The excellence of a life jacket depends on how much the child knows about swimming or what kind of watersports activity they do with the entire family. For instance, if this will be the first time they will hit the beach or take a swimming lesson, then an ideal floating device comes with as many straps as possible. When you buckle and tighten them over the toddler’s chest and around their crotch, the adults need not worry that the life jacket will come off and make the child drown.

Considering the parents want the kids to experience fishing or boating when they already know how to swim, you can get a floater with a contoured body. Such a life jacket typically has a wide shoulder and tapers a little as you move down to the chest area and then broadens again until you reach the bottom. The front and back parts of this vest may only be connected by more straps, while the sides are left open. You may also find premium designs that offer generous neck or head support, which is beneficial if you intend to stay on the boat for hours.


The vest is the classic style for life jackets. It is a sleeveless floating device with a V neck and usually held together by two or three chest straps. The modern versions of the vest, however, have zippers that start at the bottom jacket and end right below the said V.

Another cool life vest style for kids is the puddle jumper, which resembles a tube cropped top. The chest and arm floaters are pieced together, and there is no need to inflate any of them because every part contains a foam. Floating will not be an issue for the children as long as their weight is not beyond the 50-pound limit that the manufacturer has set.

As mentioned above, kids with more advanced experience doing water activities can use a life jacket with fewer safety features. For instance, the shell does not have to go around their body. There can also be a headrest and narrow back support.


Life jackets for toddlers come in five different categories. Here they are:

Type I

The first type of life vest is ideal for fishermen who do saltwater fishing, as well as rescue missions in the rough seas. It is bulkier than other jackets, so you cannot use it for water sports.

Type II

A Type II life vest is also great for emergencies in the water, but it is more suited to calm beaches. This life jacket is not too bulky and can be worn by children and adults who cannot swim professionally.

Type III

The third type of life jacket is highly useful for individuals who are into water activities. It is meant to not restrict physical movement, given that it has wide armholes. This is what the US Coast Guard typically recommends to people who enter the water for leisure purposes.

Type IV

This type practically refers to a floatation device that lifeguards and other rescuers throw at people who get stranded in the middle of the ocean. It can be a life ring, torpedo buoy, boat cushion, etc. 

Type V

The Type V life vest is suitable for people who love trying extreme sports. It is a select type of jacket that does not provide a lot of protection to the user, so only professional adults will be able to use it.


You can tell that you have the best life jacket in your hands if it has a seal of approval from the US Coast Guard. This agency is the leading authority when it comes to lifesaving products that can be used in the water. 

Although we are not saying that the models that do not have this backing are not good, your concerns about your kids’ safety may wane once you get a life vest that has been approved by the Coast Guard. After all, it has gone through a series of tests and passed the requirements of the agency. If another product does not have a seal of approval, it is okay to wonder what’s wrong with its components.


Imagine what happens in case the life jacket is too small for your child. With the old-school version, the two ends of the buckle enclosures may not meet at all, so the vest can easily float away when the toddler jumps in the water. As for the puddle jumper, their arms may not fit in the wings, and the rear buckle may not close. The life jacket, therefore, can do nothing to ensure their safety.

Now, imagine a scenario in which the life vest is one or two sizes too big. Parents can try to tighten every strap, but the child can still wiggle out of it. This idea is valid for all kinds of life jackets.

This is why you need to consult the brand’s sizing chart before buying any vest. The classic life vests for toddlers are meant to have wide armholes so that their movements will not be restricted. If you opt for the puddle jumper, the kids should still be able to raise their arms as high as possible.

Head Protection

While the torso is the body part that manufacturers aim to protect with life jackets, the child’s head also requires protection from water-related injuries. Because of that, parents need to pay attention to the construction of the vest’s upper part that surrounds the head.

The best life vest that provides maximum head protection to children is Type II. Some have pillow-like headrests; others have extendable head support. Both of them have foam inside the shell to make sure that their entire head will be out of the water.

Meanwhile, it is challenging to expect Type III vests to offer the same level of head protection to kids. The topmost part of such a life jacket ends below or on the nape, and there is nothing we can do about it. Despite that, this type of vest compensates for it by being the most comfortable life jacket to wear.


Q: Should toddlers use floaties?

A: Yes, and no. Yes, toddlers should use floaties if they are still afraid of sinking in the water while learning how to swim. However, once they get over the initial fear, parents should encourage the kids to let go of the floaties because the items give them a false sense of confidence. This will prevent the children from swimming on their own sooner than later.

Q: What age is a puddle jumper for?

A: A Puddle Jumper is suitable for kids from the age of three years old. They can keep on wearing this floating device until their weight becomes 50 pounds.

Q: Should toddlers wear life jackets at the beach?

A: Yes, toddlers should wear life jackets at the beach. It is essential to guarantee their safety, especially if they tend to sneak away all the time. With the floaties on, they have a small chance of drowning.

Q: Are Puddle Jumpers dangerous?

A: Technically, Puddle Jumpers are not dangerous. A lot of brands that have come out with this style have received a seal of approval from the US Coast Guard. One likely reason why some people may deem it dangerous is the fact that the kids remain perpendicular against the water when they are wearing it instead of parallel. Thus, it may be trickier for them to learn how to swim compared to others who do not use floaties at all.

Q: Are there life jackets for newborns?

A: Yes, there are life jackets for newborns in the market. The key is to pick the smallest size so that the vest will fit them.

Q: Is a swim vest the same as a life jacket?

A: No, a swim vest is not the same as a life jacket. The former is thinner and floats less than the latter. Still, it is suitable for toddlers who go to kiddie pools.

My Babies Planet Overview

When looking for your next baby floatation device, it is worth reading as many toddler life jacket reviews as you can. This will help to ensure that you are getting the best life jacket for your little one so that you can thoroughly enjoy beach days with the family. 

Floatation devices will keep your children safe in the water while allowing them to move freely, practice staying afloat, and build self-confidence. From newborns to toddlers, there are different life vest options to fit their needs perfectly.

More Baby Reviews:

Do you have a Toddler Life Jackets on our list? Let us know how you like it in the comment section below.

My Babies Planet Toddler Life Jackets Review

Just got back from our family vacation in Cuba and the Puddle Jumper Basic Life Jacket by Stearns worked perfectly for us!
- Annette Fite

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Hello Mother's and Father's of the world. My name is Sarah Nielsen is this is my passion, as I am a mother of two beautiful babies and they are my world. Also I love blogging and sharing my experiences of what has worked for me when raising my kids. When I'm not juggling the madness at home, or working on my blog. You will find me product researching and keeping the site freshly updated with the latest baby gear and helpful articles for my readers!