O’Neill Wake Waterski Infant USCG Vest

Editor rating

4.5/5 on October 23, 2015

User's rating

289 reviews


O’Neill Wake Waterski Infant Life Jacket Features

Safety is the watchword when it comes to choosing a life vest for your baby. Above comfort and affordability, an infant life vest should be able to save his or her life. This review highlights the safety features first and foremost, before considering the comfort features and the affordability of the model.

The O’Neill Wake Waterski infant life jacket completes our safety checklist. It is USCG (United States Coast Guard) approved; is designed for infants under 30 lbs; has a flotation collar, a grab loop, and a crotch strap; is brightly colored and designed to flip the baby onto his back.


The O’Neill Wake Waterski infant life jacket has an impressive record of flipping babies over onto their backs if they fall face down into the water. However, it is definitely not among the most comfortable of infant life jackets.

The waist section is high, leaving less room for the baby’s comfort although fitting better. The front float sections are chunky and firm, as are the sections of the flotation collar. The model is tight at the neck, and can certainly provide a level of discomfort.

Safety Features Of The O’Neill Wake Waterski Infant Life Jacket 

The Jacket Is USCG Approved

USCG approval is indicated on the label of the infant life jacket, along with the model number and the supported weight of the wearer. USCG approval means that the jacket provides the necessary 7 lbs of buoyancy needed by infants 30 lbs and below. The foam and the overall quality also pass USCG standards.

The O’Neill Wake Waterski Infant Life Jacket is USCG approved, providing the necessary minimum 7 lbs of buoyancy to the baby when he is in the water. Any O’Neill Wake Waterski vest with that label is also confirmed by the USCG to be in prime working condition.

The Jacket Works For Infants Below 30 lbs

To be most effective, life jacket manufacturers fit a certain level of buoyancy to a certain weight range. In that way, they make sure that each person’s weight is matched by the buoyancy needed to effectively keep them above the water.


The O’Neill Wake Waterski infant life vest is designed as a personal flotation device (PFD) for infants, defined as any child 30 lbs and below. The 7 lbs of buoyancy are most effective when matched with this weight range, so the jacket should not be placed on any child over that.  

The Jacket Has A Flotation Collar

The main reason that an infant may drown is because of his inability to support his head by himself until he is at least 6 months old. Even after that, he is still in the process of gaining strength and learning other gross motor skills. Any infant life jacket should have a flotation collar that will support the baby’s head and keep it above the water.

The O’Neill Wake Waterski infant life jacket has a flotation collar twice the width of the baby’s head. The flotation collar is in two mirror flotation pads, with a woven separation down the middle. The folding section of the collar creates a protection for the baby’s face from water splashing onto his eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. The design also keeps his head out of the water.

The Jacket Has A Grab Loop

While a baby may be protected from drowning by his life vest, there are other dangers that await him or her in the water. These include collision with other objects in the water, drifting far from the rescuers, and even hypothermia, or shock from contact with cold water. The grab loop minimizes the chances of these risks occurring.


The O’Neill Wake Waterski infant life vest has a grab loop attached to the flotation collar. Unfortunately, even on the bright yellow model, the grab loop is a dull charcoal black. This makes it more difficult to see in the water, and hence more difficult to grab.

The Jacket Has A Crotch Strap

Crotch straps are for comfort as well as for safety. A secure crotch strap minimizes the riding-up of the vest, and hence the discomfort experienced by babies when the chest floats rub against their chins. At the same time, the crotch strap ensures a more secure fit and a better chance of the vest acting like it should.

The O’Neill Wake Waterski infant life jacket comes with a crotch strap that passes between the baby’s legs to buckle in front. It is fully adjustable and adds to the snug fit of the jacket to the infant.

The Jacket Is Brightly Colored

Many times, blue, white, or darker-colored life vests are chosen because the designs and colors are stylish. However, they take away precious seconds from your baby’s safety because the rescuers waste time looking for the vest. Bright, neon colors are ideal for infant life jackets.


The O’Neill Wake Waterski infant life jacket comes in two bright colors: yellow and pink. Of those, the yellow jacket is much brighter and is the more preferable choice. It will be quick to spot in the event something happens, and the above mentioned dangers of hypothermia and collision may be avoided.

The Jacket Is Designed To Flip The Baby On His Or Her Back

The number one safety feature of an infant life jacket is its ability to flip the baby on his or her back. Everything else, from grab loop to bright colors, is secondary to that. If the jacket cannot raise the baby’s face out of the water and flip him onto his back, then it should not be considered.

The O’Neill Wake Waterski infant life jacket is designed to flip the baby out of the water and on his or her back if the baby lands face down. The thin nylon back has no foam in it whatsoever, and so the thick chest floats rise to the top, rotating the baby to his back. The bulky design is literally the lifesaver.

Comfort Features Of The O’Neill Wake Waterski Infant Life Jacket 

Due to the thick bulkiness of the two front chest floats, the O’Neil Wake Waterski infant life jacket is not extremely comfortable. The bulkiness of the front chest floats are what flips the infant over on his back. However, when the baby is out of the water, the lack of flotation padding on the back of the jacket may contribute to his or her discomfort.

In addition, the baby has much less room to move around in with this model. The sides are not completely open, only leaving wide arm holes. Two horizontally buckling nylon straps secure the vest tightly around the baby’s torso. The large squareness of the chest floats and the high reach of the front zipper have a tendency to constrict the baby’s chin, to the discomfort of stockier children.

The exceedingly straight and firm design of the padding makes the O’Neill Wake Waterski infant life jacket more effectively comfortable for babies of slighter build. Children who are naturally broad of shoulder and chest may find themselves overly constricted by the floats.



This vest, due to the comfort level, might be ideal for your family if you go boating irregularly and not too frequently. It may serve simply as a jacket in reserve for whenever your family decides to go on a boating outing or trip. If your family boats regularly and frequently, a more comfortable option may be required.

What not to expect: this infant life jacket is not designed to teach your baby how to swim, or to be very effective in helping your baby learn how to swim. First, it will constantly flip your baby onto his or her back, so the only stroke he might learn is the backstroke. It is designed as a rescue device. If you are teaching your baby to swim, flotation aids under constant supervision may be a much better option.

Affordability Of The O’Neill Wake Waterski Infant Life Jacket 

The O’Neill Wake Waterski infant life jacket is somewhat pricey. However, it is well-proven to be effectively safe for infants, which automatically makes it worth the money. If your family needs the jacket for irregular and infrequent boating trips, the jacket will earn its keep over the length of time. Its effectiveness in safety will more than compensate for the price.

Is the O’Neill Wake Waterski Infant Life Jacket Right For You? 

Safety definitely comes before comfort when it comes to choosing an infant life jacket, and the O’Neill Wake Waterski Infant USCG Vest is superbly designed for that. Non-existent foam at the back, thick foam on the chest floats, and the squarish design are all meant for one function: to keep the baby floating on his back and his or her head out of the water. The sacrifices in comfort, however, might make it difficult for your baby to wear the vest frequently. Match your choice to your family’s lifestyle and needs.