Nothing’s more fun than enjoying the hot sunny day in the water with the kids. Swimming, kayaking, boating, canoeing are some of the most exciting water activities every family should try. That said, your child’s safety should always be the top priority. These best life jackets for kids will keep your loved ones safe. This way, you can focus on enjoying the moment with them.
Kids are just naturally curious and you should never stop them from exploring their curiosity. This is why it’s wise to get them the best life jackets for youth. This way, you can have peace of mind knowing that your kids are safe. Getting them water shoes will also add extra safety.
Without further ado, check out the best youth life vest for swimming for your kids on the list below. Also, check out these swim bags for kids so that they can store their swimming equipment safely.
How to Choose the Best Life Jackets For Kids
There are plenty of life jacket manufacturers out there. It’s actually not that hard to find the best life jackets for kids. Most of those jackets that are on the market meet the US safety standards. However, since life jackets come in different types and designs, you may wonder which one should you get for your kids. If it’s your first time buying a life jacket for kids, these are a few things to consider.
Based on the USCG, there are five different types of life jackets. However, only Types-I to Types-III is approved for children to wear. The Type-I jacket, also known as an offshore life jacket, is designed for rough seas and open oceans. The Type-II life jacket is a near-shore buoyant, which is best for calm water and general water activities.
And lastly is the Type-III life jacket. It’s a floatation aid that’s only suitable for inland water. Some jackets are specifically designed for one activity while some others are designed to be multipurpose, pick the best life jackets for kids that best suit their needs.
Fit & Adjustment
There’s nothing worse than getting your child a life jacket that’s too big or too small. Unlike regular clothing, a life jacket should always fit well. The best life jackets for youth are those which offer the perfect fit. We recommend checking our list of life jackets for toddlers to find the best fit for your babies. That said, some manufactures produce all-size life jackets. It’s a great option if you don’t want to buy the wrong size and the kids can wear it as they get bigger and older.
Life jackets are usually made of cotton, polyester, or neoprene. While cotton is the most affordable, it’s also the heaviest and will absorb a lot of water. So, it takes a long time to dry out. Polyester is the perfect middle-ground since it’s lightweight and quick to dry. But if you’re looking for the most durable life jackets, you should opt for neoprene. The best youth life vest for swimming will offer the perfect balance between durability, drying, and lightweight.
While it’s not the most important consideration when buying the best life jackets for youth, your kids will love the jackets more if the designs match their personalities. Life jackets for kids are usually more colorful and unique.
Some life jackets offer more safety features than others. The best life jackets for kids will provide the most safety features while offering the most competitive price. When buying a life jacket for your kids, always make sure it’s USCG approved. Also, get one that has a loop at the back of the neck and a strap between the legs to make it easy for you to lift your kids out of the water when needed.
How should you size a life jacket for a child?
When buying a life jacket for kids, make sure it has a snug fit and the kids won’t be able to slip out of the jacket. If you choose the right fit, the PFD will not slip above the chin and ears.
Does a child have to wear a life jacket?
Under California law, if your child is under 13 years old and on a moving recreational vessel, they must wear a life vest that’s Coast Guard-approved.
Do life jackets expire?
Life jackets usually require low-maintenance and there’s no expiry date. You can use every personal flotation device for as long as you want until it’s worn out. That’s why investing in a high-quality life jacket is better.
O’Brien Child Neoprene Life Jacket
Looking for the best life jackets for kids that are soft, lightweight, and breathable? O’Brien Child Neoprene Life Jacket is the answer. Kids are easily tired when they have to wear something heavy and bulky, that’s why it’s better to get them a lightweight life jacket. Not only is it comfortable to wear, but it’s also eco-friendly. This is a huge plus if you care about the environment. This life jacket is made of Bio lite construction with a neoprene alternative.
O’Brien Child Neoprene Life Jacket offers excellent safety features. There’s a zip closure with 2 concealed and adjustable belts for better security. There are also a leg loop strap and a grab strap for additional safety. Since it has wide armholes, it provides better comfort and maneuverability for your kids.
What We Love
A lightweight and eco-friendly life jacket.
- Wide armholes
- Transport Canada approved
- Neon-style for better visibility
- Pricier than other life jackets in the same category
Speedo Child Swim Flotation Life Vest
With the bright and colorful design, Speedo Child Swim Flotation Life Vest offers great visibility even when it’s dark outside. This bright pink life best is made of 100% neoprene which makes it durable and lightweight. No need to buy a new life jacket every once in a while since this one jacket can last for years. Not only does it offer optimal comfort, but it also makes your kids look fashionable. It’s one of the best life jackets for youth with a special design. Constructed for warmth and durability.
Speedo Child Swim Flotation Life Vest is specifically designed for young swimmers. That’s why we put it on the list of the best youth life vest for swimming. This neoprene life vest has exceeded the US Coast Guard standards for safety. This way, you don’t have to worry about the quality of the product. This life jacket also features an anti-microbial finish that prevents odor, mildew, and stains.
What We Love
A stylish life jacket with a great visibility.
- Anti-microbial fabric
- 1.5mm neoprene
- Adjustable chest & leg straps
- No other color options
Limmys Premium Neoprene Swim Vest for Children
Limmys Premium Neoprene Swim Vest for Children is an excellent gift for your kids, especially the ones who are still learning how to swim. Limmy’s swim beat will help your children to gain skills and confidence in the water. This way, they can have fun while you have peace of mind knowing that they will always be safe. This life jacket is developed for safety, warmth, and comfort. It’s designed by parents for parents. With the help of the kids themselves, it is now one of the best life jackets for kids available on the market today.
We love the fact that Limmys Premium Neoprene Swim Vest for Children comes with a very unique design. Why would you want to settle for anything less than the best? Not only does it have the perfect design, but this life jacket is also designed to be safe and secure. There’s an added strap that secures under the child’s crotch to make the vest stay in place. The extra strong zip ensures that it won’t break easily even after multiple uses.
What We Love
A well-designed life jacket with ideal buoyancy.
- Drawstring bag included
- Lycra soft binding
- Velcro zip
- Padded safety strap
- A little bulky
HeySplash Life Jacket for Kids
HeySplash introduces your little ones to the fantastic world of watersports. The gears from HeySplash are innovative, including the life jacket. HeySplash Life Jacket is one of the best life jackets for youth. It’s made to be high-quality, safe, and durable. HeySplash makes it possible for your family to explore and splash around with no worries. Your child’s safety should always be the number one priority.
HeySplash Life Jacket combines flexibility, comfort, and safety for all kids. It’s the perfect vest for every water activity including swimming, boating, tubing, water skiing, kayaking, and other kids-friendly watersports. The full front zipper closure and quick-release buckle will keep your kids secure. And with the adjustable straps, it feels comfortable even if they wear it for hours.
What We Love
A secure life jacket with a snug fit.
- Heavy-duty gear zipper
- Expandable polyethylene material
- Built-in survival whistle
- Large armholes for maximum movement
- Not so sturdy straps
Airhead WICKED Kwik-Dry Neolite Flex Life Vest
With 25+ years of experience in manufacturing excellent watersports products, no other brand can beat Airhead. This brand now has more than 900 products and never stops innovating. Airhead WICKED Kwik-Dry Neolite Flex Life Vest is the latest and greatest release from Airhead. It’s easily the best youth life vest for swimming. It features segmented hinges for freedom of motion in all directions. This way, your kids can move freely on the water without feeling like something is holding them back.
Constructed of closed-cell PVC foam front and Poly-E foam back, this life one of the most lightweight life jackets for kids available on the market. The best thing about this life jacket is that it’s made of UV and stain-resistant 200-denier polyester. It will last for a long time even if it’s exposed to the harsh sunlight. And with the Kwik-Dry NeoLite technology, it dries much faster than other life jackets.
What We Love
A durable life jacket that’s UV resistant.
- Quick-dry technology
- Two adjustable belts
- Segmented hinges for freedom of motion
- Doesn’t have padding on the back
CWB Connelly Youth Nylon Vest
With the soft material and beautiful design, CWB Connelly Youth Nylon Vest will be your kids’ favorite life vest. Not only does the vest make them look good, but they will be more confident when swimming in the water knowing that they won’t drown. This life jacket is designed to be safe and secure with its advanced safety technology. It’s a scaled-down 3-buckle vest that includes the same features as the adult product line.
CWB Connelly Youth Nylon Vest is built with lightweight and durable foam contour to promote comfort. It also features hidden straps that encourage mobility and a quick-release buckle for fine-tuning the fit. It’s definitely the best youth life vest for swimming, especially if your kids are just starting out.
What We Love
A youth life jacket with adult standard features.
- Built-in crotch straps
- Vertically hinged segmentation
- Quick-release buckle
- Doesn’t have leg straps
SportStuff Children’s Stars and Stripes Life Jacket
The SportStuff Children’s Stars and Stripes Life Jacket is made for patriotic fun every summer. It’s a USA-themed life jacket that’s made of a soft 200-denier polyester shell with lightweight Poly-E flotation inside. The best thing about this life vest is its stain and UV-resistant material. This way, the vest won’t be damaged even if it’s exposed to the sun for a long time.
With the adjustable straps and buckles, your kids will feel secure. Safety is the entire point of wearing a life jacket. Your children will always be safe and you should never worry about them when they’re exploring around. Also with the crotch strap, it stays in place. Just relax and enjoy your day knowing that your kids will always be safe.
What We Love
A general-purpose life jacket with a patriotic design.
- 3 body belts
- Poly-E flotation
- The strap has a rough surface
Stearns Child Classic Series Vest
If it’s just the first time for your kids to try some water activities, sometimes you don’t need to buy them the fanciest life jackets. All you need is just a simple and affordable life jacket that gets the job done, as long as it meets the USGC standards. Stearns Child Classic Series Vest is one of the best life jackets for kids because it’s very straightforward. Why pay a lot when you can get an excellent life vest at such a low price?
Stearns Child Classic Series Vest actually lives up to its name. It’s a classic life jacket that’s great for swimming, boating, and swimming. This life vest is made of a durable nylon shell with PE floatation foam. Also, with three adjustable buckles and a leg strap, it offers better security for your child. Have a good time whether you take them to the beach or spending time on a boat!
What We Love
A classic life jacket at an affordable price.
- 3 adjustable chest belts
- Durable polyester construction
- Webbed straps
- No handle at the top of the back for an easy catch
Stohlquist Waterware Child
Stohlquist has been contributing numerous innovations to the watersports world since 1977. You know it’s a quality you can always rely on. Watersports enthusiasts all around the world know that Stohlquist is reliable. The latest Coast Guard-approved product from this legendary brand is the Stohlquist Waterware Child. The color makes it highly visible so it’s easy to spot your child when they’re in the water.
Stohlquist Waterware Child is made of durable 200-denier nylon oxford. It’s one of the best life jackets for youth, which means you don’t have to buy a new life vest for your kids every once in a while. The double collar design will add more comfort and cradle the child’s head in the case of a water landing. This life jacket also features a large grab handle that makes it easy for you to retrieve the kids out of the water when needed.
What We Love
An excellent life jacket with a highly visible color.
- Wide neck opening
- Padded head support
- Large grab handle
- Open back for better breathability
- A little heavy
Gogokids Kids Swim Vest Life Jacket
Gogokids Kids Swim Vest Life Jacket is the best youth life vest for swimming that every kid would want to wear. Kids will love the design because the visual is interesting. However, this life jacket isn’t only about the design. It’s also built with safety as the first priority. The vest will wrap around the child’s torso and keep the arms free when swimming. This way, your kids can focus on enjoying the time on the water because they can move freely without any barrier.
This well-designed life jacket is made of top-quality neoprene for better buoyancy. This will give children more confidence when they learn swimming. Not only that, but this jacket also provides warmth. And last but not least, the adjustable crotch strap will ensure a snug fit.
What We Love
A cool life jacket made of top-quality material.
- UV protection on covered areas
- 2.5mm neoprene
- CE certified
- Convenient grab handle
- The grab strap is quite fragile
STEARNS Youth Vest
When it comes to the best life jackets for kids, you know you can always trust STEARNS. This brand has been around for more than a decade and it continues to release high-quality products and endless innovations. To keep children safe when they’re out on the water, STEARNS Youth Vest is the perfect life jacket to get. This US Coast Guard-approved youth life jacket is suitable for many water activities including swimming, tubing, and boating.
STEARNS Youth Vest has an open-sided design and three adjustable buckles for a secure fit and better movement. It has a snug fit, but it’s also breathable so that your kids won’t feel like they have something pressing against their bodies. And since it’s made of nylon, you know it’s very durable and will last for years.
What We Love
A simple and minimalist life jacket for all purposes.
- Crosstech flotation foam
- 3 adjustable buckles
- Open-sided for extra breathability
- Doesn’t have leg straps
Stohlquist Fit Youth Life Jacket
Stohlquist Fit Youth Life Jacket is the result of craftsmanship and years of design experience. Each product follows the lineage of 40+ years of product innovations and refinement. The products always get better and better every time. This latest release from Stohlquist focuses on innovation, performance, and excellence. Now, it’s one of the best life jackets for youth available on the market.
This excellent life vest is made of 200D nylon outer shell and liner. It also features a convenient hanging loop for drying and storage. It’s simply made to be simple and durable so that the kids can focus on enjoying all the fun on the water. The thin back panels help to eliminate interference with seatbacks. That’s why it’s very comfortable to wear.
What We Love
An outstanding life jacket as the result of craftsmanship.
- Easy to adjust
- Sculpted foam paneling for high mobility
- Thin back panels to eliminate interference
- The size is smaller than the standard life jackets
Speedo Child Swim Flotation Classic Life Vest
There are so many reasons why the Speedo Child Swim Flotation Classic Life Vest sits on top of the list of the best life jackets for kids. It offers the best value for money. With this life vest, your little ones will be ready to build their confidence in the water. The best thing about this Speedo Classic Life Vest is its UV protection. Not many manufacturers offer this kind of feature. The Block the Burn UV50+ protection will shield your kids from the harsh sun.
This colorful neoprene life vest is both simple and stylish. Your kids will look much cooler and they’ll love wearing it all day because it’s soft and lightweight. The full front zipper also makes it easy for taking in on and off, while the safety closure will help secure the zipper in an upright position. This is truly the best youth life jacket for swimming.
What We Love
A well-designed life jacket with UV protection
- Adjustable buckle strap
- UV50+ protection
- Soft neoprene construction
- Full front zipper
- The strap isn’t wide enough