What to Look for in a Child’s Life Jacket

Keep kids safe while having fun on the water.

child with life jacket
There should be no such things as inconvenient or expensive when it comes to a child’s safety on or in the water.Shutterstock

Life jackets save lives, and everybody in your family should have one. Even on the most placid days, life jackets help prevent accidents; give kids a life as they learn to swim; and teach safety on lakes, rivers, and oceans. So, what’s most important with a child’s life jacket?

Kid-ready, Adult-approved

Youth SuperLite USCG Life Vest
O'Neill Youth SuperLite USCG Life VestAmazon

Start with U.S. Coast Guard certification. These are vests that meet the Coast Guard’s certification as protecting life when rescue is slow in coming by giving you enough buoyancy to keep your head above water. Even if you’re only taking a canoe out on a pond, certified vests will float for longer and give you peace of mind in case something goes wrong.

Quick and Easy

Toddler Life Jacket
Stohlquist Toddler Life JacketAmazon

A second concern is making sure kids can get into and out of the vest easily. Being able to quickly put it on and take it off is both a question of safety and fun. Being able to put on their own vest will give kids more of a sense of independence. It’ll also teach them how to put on the vest on their own, useful for sudden storms and other potentially dangerous situations.

Playful for Playtime

Stearns Kids Life Jacket
Stearns Original Puddle Jumper Kids Life JacketAmazon

Finally, don’t think you’re limited to just high-visibility or muted colors. Parents know all too well how stubborn kids can be about what they wear, and fortunately there’s an enormous variety of types and styles of life vest for kids that fit both your need for safety and their need to wear the same animal on literally everything.