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10 Best Swim Vests & Jackets for Toddlers & Kids in 2019

last updated May 20, 2019

Swim vests are a good investment in ensuring confidence in the water for your child and are required for some water activities. We have recently updated our list of the 10 best to include a couple of new products and have reviewed all existing product information such as materials, sizing, features, color/design options, availability and cost, are all accurate and up to date.

In a Hurry? The test winner after 17 hrs of research

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Stearns Child Classic Series
100/100 our score
Safety
100
Comfort
100
Adjustability
100
Stearns Child Classic Series
Why is it better?

Life Jacket is US Coastal approved

Constructed from durable nylon and PE foam used for flotation

Features three adjustable straps on front

Includes leg strap for added secure fit

Promotes gross motor skill development

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Stearns Child Classic Series
Test Winner: Stearns Child Classic Series
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Researched Sources
33
Researched Sources
Hours Researching
17
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
15
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
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By Justina Fuller:

Splish, splash! Your kiddos will love testing out the waters in any one of these swim vests. They help keep your child safe while he or she learns the ropes of swimming. We have updated these vest to include several better-reviewed swim vests to ensure both you and your child are happy when hitting the beach, pool or lake!

Sorting Options
Safety Comfort Adjustability By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
100
Safety
100 %
Comfort
100 %
Adjustability
100 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.08.19)
Amazon Link
$20.43
#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
100
Safety
100 %
Comfort
100 %
Adjustability
100 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.08.19)
Amazon Link
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
99.7
Safety
100 %
Comfort
100 %
Adjustability
99 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.08.19)
Amazon Link
$21.74
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
99.3
Safety
100 %
Comfort
99 %
Adjustability
99 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.08.19)
Amazon Link
$19.99
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
99
Safety
99 %
Comfort
99 %
Adjustability
99 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.08.19)
Amazon Link
$59.95
#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98.7
Safety
99 %
Comfort
99 %
Adjustability
98 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.08.19)
Amazon Link
$22.98
#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98
Safety
98 %
Comfort
98 %
Adjustability
98 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.08.19)
Amazon Link
$15.36
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98
Safety
98 %
Comfort
98 %
Adjustability
98 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.08.19)
Amazon Link
$15.62
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.7
Safety
93 %
Comfort
94 %
Adjustability
91 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.08.19)
Amazon Link
$41.49
#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92
Safety
92 %
Comfort
92 %
Adjustability
92 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.08.19)
Amazon Link
$19.99

10 Best Swim Vests Reviewed

1. Stearns Child Classic Series

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
100
Stearns Child Classic Series
Amazon Link
Safety
100
Comfort
100
Adjustability
100
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$20.43

Life Jacket is US Coastal approved

Constructed from durable nylon and PE foam used for flotation

Features three adjustable straps on front

Includes leg strap for added secure fit

Promotes gross motor skill development

Core development is needed, jacket leans infant back

Neckline is tight

A great classic jacket that works well for a lot of different kinds of water activities. The design is as standard as the life jacket you wore as a child but the leg strap has been added for a more secure fit.

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Safety

Swimming is an excellent way to promote gross motor skill development. The motion of the arms and legs that is created when learning to skill and then swimming is great for coordination that is needed for gross motor skill development. It keeps them safe while they learn to keep themselves safe.

Comfort

Whether the kids are fishing, water tubing, or swimming this US Coast Guard approved life jacket is great. It is constructed of durable nylon on the shell and contains PE flotation foam on the inside. The classic design and classic fit are great for any water activities that your child may need it for.

Adjustability

On the front, it features three buckles that are adjustable plus a left strap that ensure that it fits securely. It has been designed to best-fit toddlers that are 30 pounds to 50 pounds.

2. Stearns Heads-Up Child

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
100
Stearns Heads-Up Child
Amazon Link
Safety
100
Comfort
100
Adjustability
100
best offer for today
Amazon Link

Constructed from high-quality materials

Personal Flotation device approved by US Coastal

Features two straps in front for a secure fit around the body

Leg strap for added secure fit

Promotes core muscle strength

Life jacket runs large in size

Materials used makes a stiff and tight fit

The extra flotation added to the neck in this life jacket allows kids to feel safe and secure when in the water. As a parent it makes you feel better about their safety when they are secure in a life vest that keeps them upright and floating forward.

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Safety

This life jacket allows even the youngest people in the family to join in with water activities. It has been constructed from the highest quality materials and is specially designed for children 30 pounds to 50 pounds. Not only does it keep your toddler head up and facing forward it has extra PE foam around the neck to always keep them above water.

Comfort

It is designed like a pillow and keeps them face up and floating at all times. The bright green and gray colors allow you to see your little swimmer easily.

Adjustability

It features two buckle straps in the front for a secure fit around the body and one strap that goes between the legs to ensure a secure fit that does not ride up around their neck.

3. Dinosaur Swim Life Jacket

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
99.7
Dinosaur Swim Life Jacket
Amazon Link
Safety
100
Comfort
100
Adjustability
99
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$21.74

Relaxed fit and feel

Unique and fun designs

Keeps head above water

Arm floaties stay in place

Sizing runs quite large

The arm floaties are lightweight enough not to hinder a child learning how to use their arms while learning to swim and floaties can provide additional sun protection for the arms/body while in the water.

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Safety

If you’re focus on safety while learning how to swim, this life jacket is the one your child needs. It’s patented at the highest safety levels by the United States Coast Guard and has a shoulder harness to prevent easy take off or slip off.

Comfort

The arm floaties are attached to the life jacket and the life jacket is constructed from polyester for durability with a multi-panel design for comfortability to help prevent issues such as chafing.

Adjustability

The sizing is made for 30lbs to 50lbs and the life jacket comes in eight designs (Mermaid, Monster, Dinosaur, Hula Girl, Ladybug, Turtle, Surfer Van and Woody) with an adjustable chest strap plus a quick release safety buckle in the rear.

4. Begin to Swim Classic Swim Vest

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
99.3
Begin to Swim Classic Swim Vest
Amazon Link
Safety
100
Comfort
99
Adjustability
99
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$19.99

This vest is licensed by the Red Cross

It is made of durable high quality neoprene

Protects against hypothermia

Features fully adjustable safety straps

Has ultraviolet protection 50 plus

The circumference of the vest can not be adjusted

Speedo is an easily recognizable brand when it comes to aquatic wear. If you can find the perfect fit for your child, then this should be a great device to build the confidence of your child in aquatic environments.

Read more

Safety

This bright and colorful swim vest by Speedo is the top choice for toddlers and kids learning how to swim. A broad spectrum SPF of 50 is built-in the swim vest to ensure optimum sun protection in addition to sunscreen. The construction consists of neoprene that is durable and soft giving it extra buoyancy and warmth for those chilly waters.

Comfort

The swim vest is made to give extra space in mobility so it will not hinder usage of the child’s arms while they develop their gross motor skills while learning how to swim.

Adjustability

The swim vest is very easy to pull on and off with its front zipper that offers a full zipping and a safety strap is included with a buckle closure to provide maximum safety. The swim vest comes in two sizes (medium and large) and two color combos (Berry/Grape and Lime/Orange) and is licensed by the American Red Cross.

5. Stohlquist Waterware Toddler

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
99
Stohlquist Waterware Toddler
Amazon Link
Safety
99
Comfort
99
Adjustability
99
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$59.95

Comfortable and safe life vest for kids

Features double collar with great head support

Front-closure system includes a zipper and buckle

All straps are fully adjustable

Type II PFD with a grab handle on the back of the headrest

Design fits high on the neck of smaller children

Material covering the flotation foam is stiff feeling

This is a great life jacket for children who are mobile and need something they can feel comfortable in while moving around. The extra head support and grab strap are really nice for smaller children.

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Safety

Safety and comfortability is the focus of this life vest. It has been designed to ensure that children are safe when participating in water activities, but are also comfortable. The straps are fully adjustable and on the front, the zipper closure makes it easy for kids to get the life vest on. After the zipper closure has been closed, the life vest also features a buckle that adds security to the closure system.

Comfort

This life vest is great for allowing children to have some freedom in the water to learn how to kick and paddle themselves around, but also keeps them floating safely. It is a Type II PFD and provides a "face up" positioning for small children. At the back of the headrest there is an easy-to-grab handle for safety and in an event of a rescue makes it simply easier to get to them quicker.

Adjustability

The double collar, secure buckles, zipper, and adjustable straps, along with the quick-grab handle make this a great life vest for your next water adventure with children.

6. Begin to Swim Neoprene Vest

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98.7
Begin to Swim Neoprene Vest
Amazon Link
Safety
99
Comfort
99
Adjustability
98
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$22.98

Made with child friendly design

Comes in range of colors

Features UV protection 50 plus

Comes with a safety strap for between the legs

Made with neoprene for optimal flotation

Circumference is not adjustable

This swim vest keeps arm and body restriction to a minimum and doesn't hold the head in a continuous upright position which will help teach your child how to position and control themselves while swimming.

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Safety

The best feature of this swim vest is the bright and colorful printed designs your child will want to wear all the time. The swim vest is constructed from neoprene that provides buoyancy, durability, softness, and warmth while having a built-in broad spectrum SPF 50 sun protection.

Comfort

This swim vest keeps arm and body restriction to a minimum and doesn't hold the head in a continuous upright position which will help teach your child how to position and control themselves while swimming.

Adjustability

Plus, it has a comfortable, soft polyester lining. There is a full frontal, easy on and easy off zipper, a safety closure at the top of the zipper to help keep the zipper in an upright position, and a between-the-legs safety strap with a buckle closure to ensure a sturdy, safe fit. The swim vest comes in one color combo (Berry/Grape) and one solid color (Sapphire Blue).

7. Dinosaur Water Buddies Life Vest

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98
Dinosaur Water Buddies Life Vest
Amazon Link
Safety
98
Comfort
98
Adjustability
98
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$15.36

Fun, colorful designs

Leg strap for extra safety

Designs enhance the imagination

The backside is flat for comfortable sitting

Flotation only

Limited sizing

The lifelike designs of the life vests will be a great asset to the child’s water activities helping them to combine their pretend play with water play.

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Safety

This vest is made for body weights of 30lbs to 50lbs and it’s a USCG Type 3 PFD meaning it’s floatation only and does not support face-up, head-up or laying backside in the water.

Comfort

This unique and fun life vest will keep your kids entertained during swim time. Highly colorful with cool graphics, the life vest comes in five other designs (Astronaut, Firefly, Lady Bug, Princess, and Turtle) in addition to the Dinosaur design. The backside of the life vest is filled with foam that is rounded to give a graphic effect to the various models of the vest.

Adjustability

The life vest comes with a full frontal zipper, two buckle strap waist belts and a buckle strap leg belt that helps to keep the vest in place.

8. Puddle Jumper Life Jacket

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98
Puddle Jumper Life Jacket
Amazon Link
Safety
98
Comfort
98
Adjustability
98
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$15.62

Features enhanced mobility

Designed to provide optimum  comfort

Weight varies from 30-40 pounds (13-18 kilograms)

Has easily adjustable side straps

Built for superior stability

The adjustable strap may cause tightness and discomfort

This great safety device helps enhance mobility and encourages your little one to confidently explore the water. It is designed for durability and stability as well as comfort. In support of extra comfort there is easily adjustable side straps to help improve your little’s safety and well being.  The weight recommendation for this device is between 30 to 40 pounds, depending how fast your child grows this may be able to offer support for more than one summer!

Read more

Safety

The Stearns Kids Puddle Jumper is designed like the Apple Daisy. It is actually a kiddie jumper wetsuits with built-in floatation boards and buoyant arm bands. This one-piece swim jumper is perfect for kids who weigh anywhere between 30 and 40 pounds and affords the, superior stability while treading in aquatic environments.

Comfort

The buoyant pads are fully integrated into the fabric suit composed of woven polyester and polyester spandex giving your child superb fit and excellent mobility. The buoyant force provided by its flotation device help build confidence in your child as he or she slowly learns the different techniques to conquering mild to moderate waves.

Adjustability

Since the flotation devices are already built into the outfit, there is no more need for straps and other similar secure mechanisms, freeing your child from having to buckle and unbuckle these systems.

9. TRC Recreation Kids Super Soft USCG Vest

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.7
TRC Recreation Kids Super Soft USCG Vest
Amazon Link
Safety
93
Comfort
94
Adjustability
91
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$41.49

Comfortable and easy to adjust

Comes in a variety of sizes

Made from recycled materials

Is coated in waterproof vinyl

Some reviewers didn’t like the color choices

The clasps sometimes loosened on their own

The TRC Recreation Kids Super Soft Vest comes in a variety of colors, is comfortable to swim in and keeps your little one safe. What’s more to want? A good price. And yes, the TRC Recreation Kids Super Soft Vest has that too!

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Safety

Made from vinyl-covered, closed-cell foam, the TRC Recreation Kids Super Soft Vest’s safety to second to note. It is made in a range of sizes, so finding the perfect fit for your child is easy. In order to ensure proper fit and peak safety, make sure the vest is snug enough that your child won’t slip out of it.

Comfort

Although Texas Recreation (TRC) is known for pool accessories like floaties and pool lounge products, the Kids Super Soft Vest is extremely comfortable for little ones to wear and swim in. It is made entirely of foam and comes in a variety of sizes, so you can find the perfect fit for your child!

Adjustability

The Kwik-snap clasps on the front make it easy to put on and take off, but not so easy that your child will slip out. These clasps also allow you to tighten or loosen the straps, so it is perfectly adjustable. Plus, this is made from recycled items, so it is great for the environment, too.

10. Body Glove Paddle Pals

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92
Body Glove Paddle Pals
Amazon Link
Safety
92
Comfort
92
Adjustability
92
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$19.99

Safest patented U.S. Coast Guard Approved “Learn to Swim” life jacket

Adjustable chest strap

Shoulder harness to prevent kids from removing without the help of a parent

Comfortable for children to wear

Doesn’t come in that many sizes

Some parents didn’t like the designs

The Body Glove Paddle Pals is one of the only U.S. Coast Guard Approved life jackets, so you know it is going to be a great option for a swim vest. These vests come in fun colors that kids are sure to love, and the best part? The Body Glove Paddle Pal keeps your child safe while they learn to swim.

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Safety

The Body Glove Paddle Pals Vest is arguably one of the safest “Learn to Swim” vests on the market because it is the safest patented U.S. Coast Guard Approved life jacket! Not only does it come with an amazing seal of approval, but it also has arm bands for teaching kids how to swim safely. Plus, the vest comes with a shoulder harness which prevents mischievous little ones from taking off the vest without parental help and keeps it from slide off during swim time.

Comfort

Besides being safe, the Body Glove Paddle Pals vest is also comfortable for your kids, so much so that they won’t want to take it off! This vest prevent chafing because it is made with durable polyester material. This vest even has a multi-panel design for maximum comfort.

Adjustability

The Body Glove Paddle Pals vest comes in a variety of sizes and generally fits kids between 30-50 lbs. Because of its range of sizes, it also has an adjustable chest strap so it can fit snugly on your child. This adjustability makes choosing the right size easy.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Safety

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.

Comfort

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.

Adjustability

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.

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Parents, did you know?

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.

Parents, did you know?

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.

Parents, did you know?

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.

Parents, did you know?

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.

Other Factors to Consider

Emotional Development

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.

Physical Development

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

Sources

  1. Speedo, SAFETY, SECURITY, & PRIVACY, Product Information
  2. Amira Hanna, News, Blog Read
  3. Google.com, Splash About Collections Float Suit - Adjustable Buoyancy, 1-6 years , Informative Article
  4. Otterwings.com, Terms and Conditions, Terms and Conditions
  5. Otterwings.com, Refund Policy, Product Information
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