Infant Life Jackets and Boating Laws in the US

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Life Jacket Safety

While many new parents would love taking their newborns boating along with them, to be very honest, it is not a good idea at all. This is because infants do not know how to swim or how to take care of themselves and it would be tough to handle an infant while being out there in the water. Every individual on the vessel is required to wear a life jacket that fits properly. This means that an infant cannot wear an adult life jacket and remain legal or safe. The market for life jackets deals in very few life jackets in infant sizes making it very difficult for parents to take their infants for a beating experience. This also means that it is hazardous for the infants to wear life jackets that do not fit them properly. Poorly fitted or loose life jackets might slip off a child’s body putting the child at great risk.

US State Requirements for Infant Life Jackets

In the United States of America, the state where there is no infant’s life jacket law in practice, a US Coast Guard Interim rule required infants and kids under 13 on moving vessels to wear perfectly fitted life jackets that are US Coast Guard approved. This rule does not supersede or change the existing boat laws in the states that are governed by life jacket and boat laws. This rule only implies to the states that do not have any plans in place. It is also worth noting that the life jacket and boat laws in the United States also offer boaters with minimum age requirements for children to use life jackets. Ultimately, the decision whether a child should have a life jacket on or off in situations where the laws do not require this, is entirely the responsibility of the parents.

Rules to be Followed When Boating with Infants

As per the US Coast Guard Officer of Boating Safety, a baby should not be taken on the boat until they have the maximum weight of 18 pounds and can wear and carrying a personal flotation device. However, it is to be noted that majority of the infants reach this weight requirement when they are between 4 and 11 months of age. Although babies should not be carried on boats when they are newborns, there is entirely no reason why one cannot have an infant on a vessel that is moving slowly and is very well anchored and docked. However, this has to be done only when the infant is wearing a correctly fitted infant life jacket. Life jacket requirements for infants and toddlers vary from one state to another. It is necessary for the infant life jackets to feature heads-up cushion along with a loop handle and strap going between the legs for keeping the jacket from sliding up. Infant life jackets should fit snug and work perfectly well in raising the heads of the babies out of the water.


It is always imperative to go by the US state laws when it comes to taking infants for boating fun and excitement.

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