With the summer months approaching, beach and pool activities are nearly underway. For some kids or toddlers who haven’t yet learnt to swim or are not as confident in the water, kids life jackets are a must. When it comes to the safety of your children, knowing the brand you’re buying, if it’s trusted, and the level of protection the product offers is very important.
Related: The Best Swimming Aids For Babies And Toddlers
Before you purchase a life jacket or buoyancy aid, ensure you know what you are buying and the differences. To be clear, these devices are different.
What is the difference between a life jacket and a buoyancy aid?
A device that keeps the wearer facing upwards in the water with head support, which is strongly recommended for babies, toddlers and kids who struggle by themselves.
A device that simply aids the buoyancy of the wearer and keeps them afloat. Without head support, this is recommended for more confident kids in the water.
With a large variety of life jackets on the market, it is good to know what certain features to look for:
- 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
- 100N of buoyancy: The heavier the child, the more buoyancy needed. Measured in Newtons, 100N is the average for sheltered calm water (and 150N for channel crossing) but check the life jacket for its recommended amount
- Strapping (Crotch): Even if your child hates using these straps, they make sure the life jacket is positioned correctly when in use
- Whistle: A great feature to have if the wearer needs to call for help and get your attention
- Sizing: Buy a life jacket aligned with the RNLI suggestions, it must have a firm fit and be suitable for your child’s size now, not in a few weeks or a few months’ time. Too big and your kid’s head will slip right in and the life jacket will provide zero support (and be quite dangerous). To test the correct fit, lift the life jacket around 3cm from your kid’s shoulders.
- Vibrancy: It’s always handy to have a bright life jacket with additional reflective taping to ensure full visibility of your child when bobbing in the water
- CE approved: The life jacket must have the CE approved mark for full safety and protection
One of the best life jackets on the market, the Marinepool CHILDS 100n device is suitable for toddlers and babies who are 10 to 20kg’s 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.
The TWF Kids Life Jacket is another 100N device CE approved. Suitable for little ones with a weight of 10 to 20kgs, the neon jacket has superb visibility with its high-vis reflective strips. It provides great neck and head support, more so than the Marinepool, and has a fully adjustable crotch strap. With five-star ratings, the jacket also comes in other sizes to ensure you have the right fit for your child.
If you are after a life jacket with a bit more support and rougher waters, the Lalizas Chico Infant Life Vest sits in the 100N/150N category. Coming in an adorable yellow and blue aquatic design, the life jacket is super comfortable and secure with its zip feature, belt for quick release, adjustable crotch buckle and integrated pants. The fluorescent yellow gives it great visibility, along with its reflective straps and the life jacket has strong neck and head support.
The Typhoon Junior 100N 2021 Lifejacket is another great life jacket for calmer waters. With its foam construction, the device comes in a range of sizes in order for you to receive the best fit for your kid. It has got decent neck and head support, along with adjustable features such as the double belts and adjustable crotch strap. Coming in red with two visibility patches, the life jacket has a decent amount of visibility for extra safety.
Crewsaver’s Euro 100N Lifejacket is another best kid’s life jacket for its fantastic design. Made of foam, the jacket is designed for all inshore which may include swimming, kayaking, sailing and other kids watersports. Reduced from £55 to £43.95, the jacket comes in two sizes (baby and child). The Oliver Adventure cartoon characters on the design too help reinforce why kids should wear life jackets and looks great.
The Tribord Kids 100N Life Jacket is another best water safety device for its modern, 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. Free to move, this jacket comes in two sizes (15-30kg and 30-40kg) and there’s a two-year guarantee included.
For something a little different, Crewsaver also have 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. With an interesting bladder design, chin support and light attachment, if you can afford the expensive price tag, it’s worth the extra investment.
The IvyH Kids Swimming Vest is the best buoyancy aid for both kids and toddlers. Coming in a funky blue or pink design, the vest is safe and comfortable with its high-quality neoprene. The fasteners design not only increases security, but makes it strong and durable, easy to wear and put on. Completely adjustable, the vest has buckles on all straps for more flexibility and better fit.
Another great neoprene buoyancy aid is the Konfidence’s Original Jacket. Coming in a wide range of sizes (1.5 to seven years) and designs (blue palm, hamptons, ladybird, UK Flag etc), this vest is recommended by the Starfish Aquatics Institute who are a US and International awarding body. Providing kids 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.
The Swimbest UK Swim Jacket is the number one best seller for swim vests on Amazon. Available in a range of sizes (16 months to seven years) and designs (all at sea, lime/blue, power of flowers, red fish etc), the vest is designed for a snug fit. Giving toddlers a great boost of confidence in the water, it encourages the correct swimming position and has an adjustable buoyancy system. This includes eight soft flexible easy to remove foam floats, providing the perfect amount of buoyancy.