Infant Life Jacket – Buying Guide

Stohlquist Unisex InfantToddler Nemo Infant Life JacketPersonal Floatation Device

Life jackets ensure safety and stability of people in water. Infant life jackets are designed for the protection of infants. These life jackets are used in water, on a boat, a ship or airplanes. They are designed to cope with unforeseen emergencies that may arise and they protect infants from drowning. There are many types of infant life jackets and to get the best one for your infant, it is essential to know the differences between the types of life jackets.

Types of Infant Life Jackets

Type I

This type of life jacket is used offshore. It protects the infant for a longer time and works in all types of water. It is reversible and easy to wear. Type I life jackets can hold upto 22 pounds of buoyancy are the most popular ones.

Type II

These life jackets are generally used in calm waters near the shore. They can hold upto 15 pounds of buoyancy.

Type III

This is more of a floating aid than a life jacket. It is good for continuous wear and holds upto 15 pounds of buoyancy.

Type V

These are the least commonly used life jackets intended for specific water activities.

In order to choose the best infant life jacket, it is essential to see which life jacket can protect the infant for a longer time, carry the infant’s weight and keep the infant’s head above water until the rescuers arrive. From the above mentioned types, TYPE I is the most commonly used infant life jacket.

Every life jacket will have a different design and placement of the foam to fit the contours of different body types. The foam placement does not necessarily affect the safety of the jacket, but affects the comfort. The more straps the life jacket has, the more it is able to be customized to the contours of one’s body. Finding a life jacket that fits the contours of the body is something a wearer should look for in order to feel more comfortable in the life jacket. 

Though a life jacket is primarily for safety, when a buyer chooses a life jacket, the type is important as well. Determining what type of life jacket a buyer should purchase is based on the cost of the vest, environmental factors, and the performance of the jacket. The following material types are the most commonly used:


Gaia life jackets are low density, environmental friendly jackets that are made from a new kind of material that uses organic nitrile to aid in flotation. Able to resist the cold, heat, and keep harmful materials such as petroleum out of the ozone, the Gaia is easy to clean and offers high performance.


A Kapok life jacket is made from a fluffy fiber that surrounds the seeds of the Kapok tree. Though it is a highly flammable material, the kapok jacket is very light and buoyant. More durable than foam, the fibers do not lose buoyancy over time and the jacket is able to be recycled when it is retired.


Made from an inexpensive, yet non recyclable material called polyvinyl-chloride, the PVC jacket is resistant to most anything including oil, chemicals, fire, sunlight, and temperature variations. Most popular among life jacket wearers, the PVC jacket is strong and durable.

Life Jacket Extra Features

These extra features of the life jacket are just a nice bonus for the wearer. The following features can be beneficial in wearing a life jacket depending on the reasoning for wearing it:

  • Tabs are good for attaching things like knives, whistles, or strobes.
  • Pockets are great for collecting items like seashells and rocks.
  • Neon colors and best are easily seen in open waters.
  • Reflective tape. If out on the water at night or in low visibility conditions, the reflective tape makes a wearer easier to be seen.
  • Ventilation is good for those who will not necessarily be in the water cooling off such as someone paddling.
  • Fishing Jackets often have multiple tool hangers, loops, and pockets for fishing gear. 

Safety Checks

When choosing a jacket, it is important to check for the following before anyone goes into the water:

  • A label on the jacket that says U.S. Coast Guard approved.
  • Be sure to have the wearer raise his or her arms. For children, if the child’s chin and ears do not slip through the hole, the jacket is a good fit; however if they do, the jacket is too big.
  • Look for head support that will hold the back of the head up.
  • Check the comfort. Is the jacket comfortable for the wearer. If not the jacket may get removed.

How to Store a Life Jacket

Taking care of the life jacket is important to maintain its performance. It is important to remember the following tips for caring for the life jacket during and after use:

  • Keep sharp objects out of the pockets as puncturing the jacket can cause it to lose buoyancy.
  • Keep out of direct sunlight for long periods of time.
  • Rinse any salt water off with fresh water after use.
  • Allow to drip dry before storing.
  • Store the jacket in a cool, dry, dark place.


Life jackets are not a fashion statement, they are a life protecting device. Choosing the best life jacket is based mostly on size and fit. Once the size and fit has been determined, then one can pick the life jacket based on style considerations. There are differences between how a child jacket is chosen and how an adult jacket is chosen. It is important that the guidelines for choosing a life jacket are followed completely as to ensure the life jacket will do its job.