The best baby swim vests to bring confidence to kids and peace of mind to parents

swim vests best

by Rosie Floyd |
Updated on

Babies love swimming and splashing around in the water, but a baby swimming aid such as a baby swim vest is a necessity to keep them safe as they play. It's understandable you'll want them to have something to keep them safe in the water whether you're taking your baby swimming for the first time or go regularly. Some babies are hesitant in water when it comes to learning to swim and this is where baby swim vests are ideal.

It's worth noting that baby swim vests should only be used with older babies, and the majority of the swim vests on our list are suitable from when your tot reaches 12kg.

Baby swim vests offer support to your little one by helping them float in the water and will help build up your mini-me's confidence so they can be assured that the water is a fun and safe place to be. You could also consider a baby swim seat for children under the age of one but as with any swimming aid, they don't replace constant supervision, as noted by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

While babies and toddlers should never be left unsupervised while in the water, a baby swim vest will give you some peace of mind that your little one does have a floatation aid attached if they do get into difficulty in the water. Which type of swim vest your child will need will be determined by how much they weigh. It is important that the vest is not too big as this could rise up around your little ones face and many of the swim jackets have straps to keep the vest down and in place around the body.

The best baby swim vests at a glance:
Best swim vest overall: Splash About Go Splash Swim Vest - Buy now on Amazon UK
Best swim vest for ease: Swimbest UK Swim Jacket - Buy now on Amazon UK
Best swim vest with detachable strap: Konfidence Swim Jacket - Buynow on Amazon UK
Best adjustable baby swim vest: Gogokids Childrens Swim Vest - Buy now on Amazon UK

From full swim jackets to flotation vests with armbands attached, there are many different types of baby swim vests on the market. To help you make the best choice for your kiddies, we have pulled together the best swim vests to help your child feel safe and confident in the water. If you are planning a trip to the beach it may also be a good idea to get some baby swim shoes to protect your little ones feet from sharp stones.

The best baby swim vests 2024

Best swim vest for infants overall

This lightweight yet durable baby swim vest is perfect to take on holiday. It is made from a quick-drying fabric and is designed to be hardwearing but comfortable for your little one.

As it's lightweight and foldable it's easy to take with you on holiday or swimming lessons, as one of our mum testers, Jodie noted, saying "it is quite slim when folded so it doesn’t take up much room in your luggage." Yeeon also felt this lightweight design made it more comfortable for her child, "the lightweight and comfortable design meant our toddler was very happy wearing it, which was a definite bonus," she said.

The Splash About Go Splash swim vest is designed to hold tots in the right position to encourage them to get used to a swimming position, so naturally tips the child forward towards the water to help them find their water balance and confidence. Our mum tester, Aimee thought this was a success, saying that it "allows my children to swim confidently in the water at the correct angle with their feet kicking. The design of the product would make it a win for me!"

Read the full Splash about Go Splash Swim Vest review.

Pros

  • Beautiful prints available
  • Available in 14 styles
  • Lightweight and easy to pack for swimming lessons
  • High quality

Cons

  • Not adjustable to make it smaller
Material:100% Neoprene
Suitable for:‎1-2 Years
Fastening: Robust YKK zip 
Designs: 14

Best swim vest for ease

With buoyancy focused around the chest, this swim jacket is designed to keep older babies and toddlers in the forward swimming position. Designed for fun and safety, it features a fully adjustable safety strap that sits between the legs for an extra layer of security and to avoid the jacket riding up over their face while they splash around.

The Swimbest swim jacket is equipped with 8 soft, flexible, and removable foam floats that allow you to customise the buoyancy to suit your child's skill level. You can remove the floats in pairs as their swimming abilities and confidence grow and parent reviewers appreciated this, with one mum reviewer saying "my daughter loves it as it gives her the freedom to swim independently without adult support."

The SwimBest Jacket encourages the correct swimming position, helping your child learn the right techniques but as one reviewer noted, you still need to guide them "if your child can't swim, as the buoyancy in the vest is strong and could flip them face down on top of the water." However they really rated this swim vest as "it really helps when you are in the pool as you don't have to hold them as tight in order to keep them afloat and upright."

It's made from supple neoprene with UV protection on covered areas and has undergone rigorous testing to meet the latest safety standards of EN13138-1. Be careful to check the weight and size recommendations to be sure you're buying the right size for your child as the Swimbest swim jacket is suitable from around 16 months to 7 years old.

Pros

  • A wide choice of bright colours so you'll easily be able to see your little one in the water
  • Features a safety strap to keep it from riding up
  • 8 removable foam floats mean you can change the buoyancy as your child gains confidence

Cons

  • Some parent reviews mention it is quite bulky
Material:Neoprene
Designs: 10 available
Floats: 8 soft flexible easy to remove foam floats
Size: 3, Small, Medium and Large
Age:From 12kg

Best swim vest with detachable strap

This swim-school approved swim jacket is a hit with parent reviewers who felt it gave their kids confidence in the water and also provided security and peace of mind to parents, with one mum commenting "it gave my child confidence in the water" and another saying "I really recommend, my daughter has lots more confidence wearing this."

Just like the Swimbest Swim Jacket on our list of the best swim vests, the Konfidence Jacket has 8 foam floats, allowing you to adjust the buoyancy as your child's swimming abilities improve and parents found this to be helpful, with one commenting "our 5 year old learnt to swim in less than a week, progressing to not needing to wear it (from no experience since baby classes). I highly doubt she would have accomplished this so quickly or confidently without the vest. Our 3 year old was happily able to swim throughout the holiday wearing this at all times; with no prior swim experience at all."

While it comes in a wide range of colours, they all have a trademark yellow back to make your child highly visible in the water. The swim jacket also boasts a fully optional and fully adjustable support strap, so it can be amended to suit your child - this is the only jacket to have a removable strap to give you that flexibility.

A couple of reviewers mentioned that the swim jacket rubbed their child under the arms so it's worth checking measurements to make sure it's the right size for your little one.

Pros

  • Comes in a wide range of colours
  • Has a trademark yellow back to make sure your child can be seen in the water
  • The only swim jacket to have a removable strap so it can be adapted to your child
  • Has 8 foam floats to remove and adjust as your child grows in confidence

Cons

  • Some reviewers mentioned it rubbed under the arms to check the measurements to get the right size
Material:3mm Neoprene
Designs:Available in 12 colours
Safety: Complies with CE European Standard:  EN13138-1
Age:From 12kg
Sun protection: 50+ UV protection

Best adjustable baby swim vest

gogokids swim vest pinkGogokids/Amazon
Price: $42.99

This buoyancy aid has multiple straps to provide greater support to kids in the water, keeping the vest in place and allowing them to find their balance more easily. These straps are designed to be comfortable, and one parent chose this in particular as "the strap underneath has padded material on it to stop any rubbing when it rises in the water." Another parent chose it for the straps, noting that "it stops the vest loosening and then going over their head in the water as I found some of the others did… it keeps it in place which helps him swim better in water."

Parent reviewers praised the Gogokids Swim vest for giving their children greater confidence in the water while they were learning to swim, with one saying "it's perfect in fit, use, look but most of all given a little lady confidence to go into deeper water and enjoy herself with others and not miss out." It also has a handle located near the top so you can quickly grab your little one if needed and comes in a wide range of bright colours to keep them visible in the water.

A couple of reviewers found it rubbed their children's legs so this might be something to consider, though the padded strap should avoid this.

Pros

  • Zipper is easy to take on and off your little one
  • Multiple straps allow you to adjust the size to make it a perfect fit
  • The crotch strap is padded for comfort and stops it rising over the head when kids are in the water
  • Comes in a range of bright colours that are easy to see in the water

Cons

  • Some children may find the strap between their legs uncomfortable
Material:2.5mm durable neoprene and EPE polyethylene foam
Size: Available in Small, Medium, Large and X-Large to fit ages 2-8years (12kg+)
Fastening: Zip and buckles
Sun protection: UPF 50+

Best baby swimming vest for design

If you're looking to build up your little one's confidence in the water, this swim vest is ideal. As well as a floatation vest, it has built-in armbands and is made from soft, high-quality polyester and cotton-filled material, to make it comfortable and lightweight.

It meets EU-safety standard EN13138-1 to offer peace of mind, and is designed to mould to the body to offer greater buoyancy. The adjustable straps help this fit, while the security buckle at the back keeps it in place. Parents found this adjustability was helpful, saying it "fitted better than expected all round and room to adjust over her shoulders and around her chest." They found the buoyancy helped their children to stay supported in the pool, with one noting that it's "the best swimming support that I have found! My two-year-old swam safely in both the sea and the swimming pools. This device is supportive and comfortable while allowing my little one to swim naturally, both on her front and back." This support provided peace of mind to parents, with a mum saying it "gave her and us so much confidence during our summer holiday abroad this year."

Unlike other armbands, there's no need to inflate the arms so kids can get into the pool quicker, without wriggling around while you're trying to inflate it! The bright prints are fun for kids, but most importantly they're bright and easy to see so your child can be seen in the pool.

Pros

  • Has a flexible back strap so you can adjust the fit across your child's chest
  • A range of designs and bright colours to choose from
  • Combines armbands and a chest flotation to keep children upright in the water

Cons

  • It doesn't have floats on the back so the buoyancy can't be adjusted
Material:Polyester
Designs: Available in 10 styles
Sun protection: ‎50+
Age suitability: 2-6 years old, 20-50lbs (9-23kg)

Best swim vest with armbands

The Sevylor Puddle Jumper is fastened at the back, meaning your little one won't be able to undo it without your help. This is a great alternative to bulkier baby swim vests as the buoyancy aid is located to the front and on both arms. This will give your child more freedom when splashing around but still keep them buoyant. The placement of the buoyancy also allows them to swim on their front or back, which parents appreciated, with one noting "my 2-year-old loves wearing this in the swimming pool. It allows for independence and helps develop confidence in the water. She is able to practice swimming on both her front & back. It is a really clever product."

As there's no need to inflate the swim vest, it's easy to pop on as soon as you get to the pool but as the strap fastens at the back, it would be difficult for children to undo it and take it off. This was tested by Mother&Baby's Digital Writer, Rebecca Lancaster, who found it gave her confidence that her son was safe in the water as the strap kept it secured around him and the armbands helped to keep him buoyant and his head above water. "It kept him up in the water but also allowed him to float on his tummy and kick his legs to propel himself along so he quickly learnt how to swim. I loved it so much I bought a second for my daughter when she was ready to get in the water."

They come in a variety of colours that are sure to appeal to little ones but will also make them bright and visible in the water.

Pros

  • Not as restrictive as a full vest
  • Allow them to float on their front and back so great for learning to swim
  • Available in six different animal options
  • Fastens at the back so difficult for a child to undo themselves
  • Easy to put on as there's no need to inflate

Cons

  • The arms can be a little tricky to take off if it's wet
Material:Polyester
Suitable from:15-30 kg (2-5 years)
Size: One size

Baby Swim Vest – All you need to know

Suitability - Most of the swim vests we recommend are suitable from 12kg and Splash About suggest that babies can wear float suits, jackets and vests. Prior to this they should be held by an adult when in the water and you could consider a baby wetsuit to keep them warm.

Safety certifications - When it comes to baby swimming, safety is the most important thing to consider as a parent. You should check your baby's swim vest meets all the EU safety requirements. These should be mentioned in the product description when purchasing. Choosing a vest with added sun protection is also a good idea, especially in the summer months, though you'll still need to make use the best baby sunscreen on any exposed skin, and reapply if they've been in the water.

Finding the right fit - For optimum levels of buoyancy, the vest should fit correctly, nice and close to baby's skin so it doesn't ride up. To find the perfect fit, it's a good idea to measure your child's waist and chest circumference against the size guide.

Straps and fastenings - It's a good idea to choose a swim vest with a strap over the zip so baby can't unzip their vest themselves.

Level of buoyancy - These vests are designed to add to your child's natural level of buoyancy. Many also feature removable floats so you can gradually remove them as your tot becomes more confident in the water.

Comfort - Choose a swim vest made from soft neoprene fabric. Not only will this provide an extra layer of warmth in cooler water but the soft fabric will also prevent any chafing on the arms as the material is so soft.

Choosing the right swim vest for your baby

As previously mentioned a swim vest is not suitable for a young baby, however, they are a fantastic option for an older baby, infant or toddler. You should always check the age and weight specifications of the vest before purchasing. An ill-fitted swim vest can be dangerous as it may rise or flip them over in the water.

We recommend only buying a swim vest from a reputable retailer. It is a good idea to opt for a swim vest which has been certified by the EU CE Certification as these have been tested as a safe buoyancy aid for children.

As tempting as it may seem, don't pick a swim vest because it has lots of buckles and zips. Although it may look like it offers more safety, this isn't always the case. Ensure that you are confident in how your child's swim vest is installed. We all know toddlers don't like waiting around. However, you may find that swim vests with adjustable straps are a good option as they can grow with your child.

Our product recommendations are based on a combination of real-world testing from our army of mum testers, and the extensive knowledge of our experienced editorial team and product specialists. Where we can, we also consult experts who specialise in that field to ensure you get the right advice along with the right product, and we listen to what you say as well, helping us highlight the products that meet what you really want.

Swim vest vs life jacket

Life jackets are designed to keep a person's head above the water to prevent drowning.

Swim vests are designed to be a swimming aid to help little ones gain confidence in the water and learn to swim. It makes it easier to float but will not prevent drowning so they must still be closely attended to at all times.

Remember, swim vests are not a life jacket and they are not a life-saving floatation device so should never be used in replacement of an adult in the water. While your child is still learning to swim, you should always make sure an adult is supervising them in the water.

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Mother & Baby is dedicated to ensuring our information is always valuable and trustworthy, which is why we only use reputable resources such as the NHS, reviewed medical papers, or the advice of a credible doctor, GP, midwife, psychotherapist, gynaecologist or other medical professionals. Where possible, our articles are medically reviewed or contain expert advice. Our writers are all kept up to date on the latest safety advice for all the products we recommend and follow strict reporting guidelines to ensure our content comes from credible sources. Remember to always consult a medical professional if you have any worries. Our articles are not intended to replace professional advice from your GP or midwife.