Is a Newborn Life Jacket the Same as an Infant Life Jacket

infant life vest

Water adventures certainly spell fun for the entire family especially for kids. Even infants enjoy water activities in the kiddie pool or beaches. The most important thing to remember is to prioritize child or newborn safety especially when dealing with unpredictable waters.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, unintentional or accidental drowning is responsible for more infant and young children deaths than any other potential causes except congenital abnormalities. The increased newborn and children mortality rate has certainly raised alarm and awareness for many concerned parents that propelled them to look for ways to better protect and safeguard babies and young children while in the water.

What is a Newborn Life Jacket?

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) or life jackets will keep you newborn safe in the water or even when out in a boat. A newborn life jacket belong to the type II of PFDs which is categorized as a “classic life jacket” which is designed for individuals who are swimming close to land or near-shore rescue and are not as expensive or bulky compared to the type I PFDs which are designed for emergency purposes or for those stranded in open water. This type II life vest is also built to hold a person upright – as it has full head and neck support – even when rendered unconscious; which works the same way for infants or newborn that do not have full head or body support as of yet. Infant and newborn life jackets are essentially the same and provide the same flotation aid and support for a particular age and body weight.

In the United States, the law states that all children are required to wear PFDs when on board a moving boat. The US coastguard however discourage parents from bringing infants onboard any water vehicle because the current designs for newborn PDFs would fit up to 18 pounds only which may not provide the right fit for newborns. It is recommended that the parents test the life jackets first on their infants to make sure that they would float and are secure before exposing their newborns in the water or on board a boat.

Here’s a checklist on what to look for in a safe and of standard newborn life jacket:

  1. Always buy a NEW newborn life vest. While you get to save on hand-me-downs, buying a new life jacket especially for your newborn is considered safest. Risking your baby’s life just to save a few bucks would not be worth it. Also, PDFs expire and it can be prone to damage especially when exposed to the sun and has been used for a long time. The inner foam can also be waterlogged and become brittle from too much exposure to the beach and sun.
  2. Approved by US Coast Guard. Your baby’s PDF must be USCG certified to guarantee that it meets the standard requirements for newborn PDFs. Look for the USCG logo to make sure that the life vest will ensure your newborn’s safety when out in the water.
  3. Must have the proper fit for newborns. It’s always good to get the right fit rather than size up when it comes to newborn life jackets because it’s not safe for your infant to be wearing something loose especially for water activities. Make sure that it’s a perfect fit or wearing it is useless. Newborn life jackets have head and neck support. To make sure that it fits your newborn, you can try lifting your baby by the shoulders and if they slip through the life vest while you’re at it – then it must be too big for your newborn.
  4. Perform the float test. PFDs are supposed to let you float the right way. You can test your newborn life jacket by taking them out on the pool and while the life vest is on your newborn, you gently put your baby on the water face-down. You will know outright if the newborn life jacket is working properly or as intended because the right life jacket would immediately flip your baby onto their back in the effort to keep the face out of the water. If this does not happen on your float test the discard that life vest because it’s unsafe. You might just need to shop for a new one which is USCG certified and safe for newborns.
  5. Has all built-in safety features. A safe and of standard newborn life jacket must have the following features:
  • Crotch strap – This secures the life vest tightly to your newborn’s body.
  • Flotation collar – A safety feature that keeps the newborn’s head above water and his face up.
  • Grab handle – This is a loop that you can easily grab on to rescue your newborn out of the water in case of accidental fall.

Here are the top 2 choices for the best and USCG-approved newborn life jackets in the markets today:

  • Stohlquist Unisex Infant/Toddler Nemo Infant Life Jacket /Personal Floatation Device – This can support infants and kids that weigh up to 30 pounds. It is also very lightweight and fully adjustable which has a front zip and quick release buckle right at the waist. This has a V-neck design which makes it very comfortable and safe for newborn use as it would not hamper breathing. It is also stylish and available in three colors: Yellow, Red, and Dark Blue – which makes your baby pop out in the water. What’s great about this life vest is that it has enhanced flotation capability. It also has a double collar that provides ample head and neck support.


Check out our review of the Stohlquist Infant Life Jacket.

Available at Amazon:

Regular Price: $59.95

Sale Price: $47.99 + Free Shipping for orders over $49

(20% off or save $11.96)

  • Stearns Infant Classic Boating Vest – This is the perfect choice for a newborn PDF if you are looking on value for your money. This has all the safety features you need to keep your infant safe while you are out in the water for less the price tag. It is made of high-quality durable nylon material that can support infants less than 30 pounds. It also has a specialized contoured neck float for safe face-up flotation. It has a crotch strap and zipped front to keep your baby secure. Available in blue and red colors for high visibility in the water.


Check out our review on the Stearns Infant Classic Newborn Vest.

Available at Amazon:

Regular Price: $22.95 + Free Shipping for orders over $49

Getting your newborn all geared up for boating, swimming, or kayaking is made fun and safe with an extra layer of protection provided by PDFs. It pays to be proactive with using a USCG-certified newborn life jacket to protect your baby in case of emergency situations in the water. Looking after your baby while enjoying water activities with family and friends will prove to be hassle-free and safe especially when you get the right fit for a newborn jacket.

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