Best Swim Vests & Jackets for Toddlers & Kids in 2019

Swimming and other water-based activities are great exercise for toddlers and kids plus it is something that the whole family can do together. The main priority when being around water for the entire family is making sure that everyone is SAFE. You want to make sure that they are safe when outside of the water as well as when they are in the water. Having your toddlers and kids wear life vests is the best way to make sure they are safe. Even if they can swim, it is always best and in some cases, it is required for them to wear life vests at all times.

The key to having your children wear life vests is making sure they are a good fit, do not decrease their mobility, and are also made from quality materials. The materials, the makers, and the design of the life vest really do determine how long they can wear the jacket and how much of a fight they will put up when you are putting it on them. Selecting a life vest that is comfortable and also provides the right amount of flotation is important.

There are so many different styles and types of life vests on the market. Selecting one can be difficult when you are not sure what you are looking for. We have created and compiled a list of the best swim vest for toddlers and kids. These vests are great for different reasons and each of the reasons and what they are best suited for are listed.

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By Justina Fuller:

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Our Top 3 Picks

Speedo Kids Classic Swim Vest
  • Speedo Kids Classic Swim Vest
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Sun Protection
  • Price: See Here
O'Neill Wake Waterski Vest
  • O'Neill Wake Waterski Vest
  • 4.3 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Safety Belt Between Legs
  • Price: See Here
Apple Daisy Float Suit
  • Apple Daisy Float Suit
  • 3.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • 0 Sunblock
  • Price: See Here

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Swim Vests & Jackets

Large bodies of water can be intimidating for little ones, and a fear of drowning is a commonplace and understandable fear. Introducing your child to the water as early as possible can help them become comfortable and peaceful with water and it will help to develop skills in swimming. The items on the list help to provide a sense of peace and comfort to your child as they learn to interact in the water while also maintaining safety as the #1 priority.

These swim vests were chosen to be both comfortable and appealing to children. Some swim vests can feel very tight and suffocating, and others can irritate the delicate skin of children. Swim vests that allow a child to move their arms and body freely, to prevent any possible damage to their development and keep the child breathable were chosen. Children also like things that are eye-catching, fun, bright and beautiful so we chose swim vests with colorful designs and fun prints that will make any child want to wear them every time it is necessary to wear them.

For parents, safety will always be the #1 concern. The swim vests were chosen for their ability to provide optimum floatation while in the water and other safety features included. One particular safety feature that stood out is the safety straps of the swim vests. The swim vests with multiple safety straps were more likely to be chosen instead of swim vests with only one safety strap. In addition to multiple safety straps, straps that are adjustable and had quick-release buckles were chosen. Other safety features such as a grab strap for parents to grab hold of their child and built-in head/neck supports were considered too.

Lastly, other options we determined are needed in choosing swim vests included miscellaneous features such as built-in sunblock, cleaning and drying, multiple sizing, certifications and even the zippers. Swim vests with built-in sunblock provide broad spectrum to protect from UVA and UVB rays, but it doesn’t mean you should skip traditional sunscreen. For cleaning, the swim vests on our list only require a wipe down and air dry on their own. Swim vests with adjustable sizing or provided space for the child to grow into were chosen.

The majority of the swim vests on our list are certified by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and a few have certifications from professional swim and water sports organizations. The zippers were carefully examined to determine if they provided a full-coverage zip and would stay in place while the child was active in the water.

Tips to Help Your Child Feel More Confident Swimming

Swimming can bring a lot of benefits, especially for kids. This is particularly true for those who may have problems in mobility since the buoyant force of water will help lessen the effect of impact forces on the musculoskeletal system. That is why it is recommended that kids be taught how to swim, not only to let them reap the benefits of swimming, but also to help lessen the risk of drowning. Unfortunately, it takes time before children can really learn to swim with confidence. Here are some tips to build confidence in your child swimming.

  • Start young. There are now babies born in water environments. It is thus, recommended that babies as early as 2 months old should already be exposed to the joys of swimming.
  • Always make swimming a family bonding time. Young kids, especially babies and toddlers, will always have fear whenever they go in the water. One way to solve this is by showing that you, too, are confident swimming in the water. Make sure that when you do swim, you’re going to do so as a family.
  • Make a point of swimming on a more regular basis. Don’t wait for summer to come before you head to the pool. There are indoor swimming pools that provide excellent all-weather swimming opportunities. Remember that to build confidence, your kid must be able to do this on a frequent and regular basis.
  • Introduce a fun element to the swimming activities. Get some toys that you can use while your kids are building their confidence levels in the water. Additionally, it is better to let kids decide when they want to get in the water rather than you enrolling them in a class even before they are ready for it.

Choose the correct buoyancy aid. Flotation devices are very helpful tools in building the confidence of young would-be swimmers. By the time kids are ready, you can easily remove these buoyancy aids.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the age/weight range for these swim vests?

A: The ages for the swim vests on this list range from infant to kindergarten ages. The most common ages these swim vests focus on, however, are from 1 to 3 years old. The sizing of the swim vests start at 30 pounds and end at 50 pounds, but the majority of the swim vests have adjustable sizing.

Q: Do these swim vests have removable parts?

A: Yes, some of the swim vests have the function to remove floats or add more, and that can help a child with their comfort, safety and confidence levels while in the water. None of the removable parts negatively affects the swim vests or child.

Q: Is it possible to pick a color/design specified to my child?

A: Yes! The swim vests come with various options for colors and designs. Some of the swim vests have one design but multiple colors to choose from and the other swim vests have various designs with numerous colors.

Q: Will these swim vests easily slip off my child?

A: No. The swim vests on our list have multiple safety straps to help keep your child secured and there are some that come with shoulder straps to hold the swim vest in place so it will not ride up. The swim vests that have floaties are designed to keep the floaties from slipping up and down the arms.

Q: Do these swim vests provide safety for all water bodies?

A: The swim vests on our list were constructed for all bodies of water (lake, beach, pool, etc.) and water activities. There are some that focus on kayaking, boating or pool activities but can still used in all water activities. Most have United States Coast Guard (USCG) certification and will work in any body of water.

Q: Can the swim vests be worn by a child who can’t swim?

A: Most of the swim vests on the list provide floatation, but there are some that focus on beginner swimmers. Children who have water experience are the best fit for these swim vests, but children with no water experience can still use them. As always, the parent should provide optimum water safety for their child regardless of the swim vest.

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