The best kids life jackets to help keep them safe

best-kids-life-jacket

by Samantha Ball |
Updated on

For the toddlers and kids who haven’t learned to swim yet, or are not as confident in the water, ensuring you get the best kids life jackets is essential for keeping them safe.

With the summer months in the UK not far off, planning for holidays, days out to the beach and pool activities are well underway. While you're probably planning what swimwear your child needs, have you thought about how to keep them safe in the water too?

Our favourite kids life jackets shortlist 2023:

Our favourite overall kids life jacket: Kids Life Jacket 100N LJ Easy Orange/Grey
Our favourite kids life jacket for babies and toddlers: Marinepool CHILDS 100N Buoyancy Lifejacket
Our favourite buoyancy kids life jacket: Konfidence The Original Jacket

If you've looked at swimming aids for babies, then life jackets are the next best thing. They help to keep your children floating the right way in water and also come with features such as whistles and crotch strap to keep the life jacket in the correct position.

A buoyancy aid is significantly different from a life jacket, and works in a similar way to some baby swimming vests. These are ideal for shallow water and splashing around in a shallow pool. It's important to know the difference between the buoyancy aid and life jacket before purchasing.

The best kids life jackets and buoyancy aids 2023

The best overall kids life jackets

The Kids Life Jacket 100N LJ Easy Orange/Grey is an effortless design. Coming in 'Fluo Orange' and grey, the device has an over-the-head, T-shirt design, making it super easy to put on, lightweight and comfortable. No zips, this jacket can be used sailing up to six miles from shore, has a central buckle and crotch strap.

One r****eview said: "Bought it at the last minute online as I was having trouble finding a life jacket for my daughter and we were going kayaking the next day. I was surprised by the quality as it was much better than I expected."

Another review said: "Just what we needed for our little ones (5 and under). Easy to put on and they were happy to keep on!"

Pros

  • Easy to put on
  • Light weight and comfortable
  • Under collar handle

Cons

  • Hand wash
  • Not suitable for swimming

Best kids life jackets for toddlers and babies

The Marinepool CHILDS 100n Buoyancy Lifejacket is suitable for toddlers and babies who are 10 to 20kg in weight with a max chest of 65cm. It is made from the softest fabric and is very versatile with multiple sizes on offer. The straps are also adjustable and there is an additional whistle and reflective strips for great visibility.

One review said: "I purchased this for my grandson for when out on our boat. I’m very pleased with it. He is 21 months old but is big for his age (he wears age 2-3 clothing) and it fits very well. It isn’t too bulky and has a crotch strap for added safety. He is happy to wear it and I think it will fit him for a good while."

Pros

  • 3m reflective strips
  • Adjustable

Cons

  • No other sizing

Best buoyancy kids life jacket

Aquatics Institute, the US and International awarding body. Providing kids with that extra bit of confidence, the jacket includes eight simple-to-remove floats to adapt to your child’s needs and progression. As well as, chunky YKK self-locking zip and 50+ UV and natural thermal protection.

One review said: "Having a 3-year-old who would not go swimming... this was a lifesaver! Went on our holiday and his confidence grew and grew to the point he even went down slides on his own and felt safe... So many people commented on this and wished they had brought one too. Didn't chaff either, and would definitely recommend. Obviously, you still have to watch them as it's not a life jacket. Thank you for making our holiday so much easier :) used it without armbands!"

Pros

  • Suitable for ages up to 7 years
  • Array of different designs

Cons

  • Not suitable for deep water

Best kids life jacket with padded collar

The Kids 100 N Approved Life Jacket Childs is CE approved and suitable for little ones with a weight of 10 to 20kg. The neon jacket has superb visibility with its high-vis reflective strips. It provides great neck and head support and has a fully adjustable crotch strap.

One review said: "Got for my 2-year-old boy who likes to try to run off the jetty / jump out of boats declaring “I swimming”. Luckily haven’t needed its buoyancy aid properties yet but it seems comfortable for him and enables me to breathe a bit easier."

Pros

  • Fully adjustable
  • Padded collar for head support

Cons

  • Can feel bulky

Best vibrant kids life jacket

best-kids-life-jackets-lazlias
Price: $52.99

With plenty of adjustable features, the Lazlias life jacket is a fluorescent yellow with reflective strips so you know your child will be seen in the water. It comes in a variety of different sizes for little ones, and even has a wide protective floatation neck that helps keep your childs face out of the water if there is an emergency.

One review said: "I got the 15-30kg and it is spot on for my four year old, we have tested it out and works well in fresh water and the sea. Would not be without it when kayaking."

Pros

  • Fluorescent yellow
  • Adjustable
  • Wide protective floatation neck

Cons

  • Not suitable for swimming

Best 150N kids life jacket

The Crewsaver Crewfit 150N Junior has an automatic 150N life jacket on offer. Being the first Fusion 3D device for juniors, it certainly is leading the way to a more safe, comfortable, and stylish solution. It also has a chin support and light attachment.

Pros

  • Crewsaver surface light
  • Designed for ultimate comfort and protection

Cons

  • No on site reviews

Best kids life jacket buoyancy aid designs

The Swimbest UK Swim Jacket is available in a range of sizes (16 months to seven years) and designs. The vest is designed for a snug fit, and gives toddlers a boost of confidence in the water, encourages the correct swimming position and has an adjustable buoyancy system. It includes eight easy to remove foam floats, providing the perfect amount of buoyancy.

One r****eview said: "Brought for my one year old's first swimming day. He’s always been big and always in the size above so usually get him 18-24 and this was just right but snug maybe. Great value for money."

Another review said: "Purchased for use by granddaughter on holiday. Wasn’t sure whether she would be that willing to wear but she has fully accepted use. It is brilliant and provides all the necessary buoyancy to assist her when swimming."

Pros

  • Different designs available
  • Adjustable buoyancy system

Cons

  • Some mentioned they are a more snug fit

Best 70N kids life jacket buoyancy aid

Best kids' buoyancy aid for longevity
best-kids-life-jacket-kayak-buoyancy-aid
Price: £27.99 (was £34.99)

www.decathlon.co.uk

This BA 50N+ Kayak, Stand-Up-Paddle and Dinghy Buoyancy Aid from Decathlon is suitable for children from the age of around 6-years-old. It comes with a crotch strap to provide extra security and is a 70N, making it more buoyant than your normal buoyancy aids.

One review said: "Fits well and kids liked the colour."

Another review said: Feels robust, good fit. Strap underneath. Excellent value."

Pros

  • Easy to use buckles
  • Adjustable crotch strap

Cons

  • Not suitable for none-swimmers

Best kids life jackets: all you need to know

What to look for when buying a kids life jacket

With all the technical language and many options to choose from, it can be tricky to know which kids life jacket to buy.

According to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution choosing a lifejacket for the type of activity you are doing is the most important part.

With a large variety of life jackets on the market, it’s good to know what certain features to look for:

Buoyancy: The heavier the child, the more buoyancy needed. Measured in Newtons, 100N is the average for sheltered calm water (and 150N for coastal). Check the life jacket for its recommended amount and also consider what you are buying the life jacket for.

ISO approved: All new life jackets are required to meet the International Standards Organisation standard ISO12402. Older life jackets might have the CE approved mark for full safety and protection, numbered between EN393 to EN399.

Sizing: Buy a life jacket aligned with the RNLI suggestions. It must have a firm fit and be suitable for your child’s current size. Avoid buying for them to grow into in a few weeks or months. If the life jacket is too big, your child’s head will slip right in and provide no support, which is dangerous. To test the correct fit, lift the life jacket around 3cm from your child’s shoulders.

Foam: All children under seven years of age should be in a foam life jacket.

Neck /collar support: Without this important feature - it is not a life jacket.

Strapping: Straps around the crotch ensure that the life jacket is positioned correctly when in use and also helps to prevent the life jacket from rising up.

Whistle: A great feature to have if the wearer needs to call for help and get your attention.

Vibrancy: It’s always handy to have a bright life jacket with additional reflective taping to ensure full visibility. Avoid dark colours as these are hard to see in the water.

What is the difference between a life jacket and a buoyancy aid?

Life jacket

A device that keeps the wearer facing upwards in the water with head support, is strongly recommended for babies, toddlers and kids who struggle in the water by themselves.

Buoyancy aid

A device that aids the buoyancy of the wearer and keeps them afloat. Recommended for older children and more confident kids in the water, as these generally do not provide head support.

Samantha Ball is a Product & Lifestyle Writer for Mother&Baby and freelanced for the website for two years before joining the team full time. She's a mum of two and loves browsing for the best products and cute outfits.

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