Stearns Infant Classic Series Vest Features
Are you taking your infant out boating? We recommend the Stearns Infant Classic Series Vest. It matches our safety checklist for a boating infant life vest. It is also comfortable and snug to wear. Let’s break the features down.
We know you won’t approve just any life jacket for your infant. So we’ve broken down the necessary safety features for you. When a seller tells you the infant life jacket is “safe” to wear, it should have everything on this list.
USCG-approved. Without their approval, it would not have our approval. The USCG cleared an infant life jacket for quality when they add the U.S.C.G. Approval No. (6 digits) to the tag. This is your first quality marker.
Type II. A Type II personal flotation device (PFD) turns the wearer face up even if they roll over, by design. This will depend on several factors, including the fit of the jacket and the response of the child to the jacket, so you might need to test several styles.
Inherently buoyant. If there is any part of the infant life jacket that needs to be inflated, then it is not the right life jacket for your baby. The Stearns infant life jacket is inherently buoyant, meaning it floats on its own. Neither you nor anyone else needs to activate anything for it to keep your baby afloat.
Bright-colored. Stearns designed the infant boating vest with one primary function: to save the wearer if they accidentally land in the water. It is not a training tool or a water toy. You can easily spot the bright red material of the Stearns Infant Classic Series Vest on the boat, in water, or on the shore.
Zip-up front. Active children can push against or loosen straps, creating an uneven fit. The zip-up front ensures that the child is wearing the infant life jacket as close to their bodies as possible, with less space to loosen it.
Torso strap. To make triply sure of the fit of the infant life jacket, a torso strap buckles across the front of the zipper. You can then tighten it, and tuck the strap in against the side. When using this life jacket, don’t trust the torso strap alone. Make sure you fully close the zipper before closing and tightening the strap.
Crotch strap. Like with a full-body harness, the crotch strap makes sure the infant life jacket does not ride up or loosen on the baby. You can also close the strap at the front, and you can still tighten in. Make sure you tighten it just right, as close as a pair of shorts.
Grab strap. The grab strap at the top is for you to keep a firm hold of the life jacket on the boat or in the water. The strap also allows you to easily snag it in your fingers if you get separated and you have to swim after your infant. Stearns also webbed the torso, crotch, and grab straps for better strength and solidity.
Pillow collar. The thick pillow design of the collar is what encourages the vest to flip on its back. It also braces the baby’s head out of the water while they are floating on the back. This pillow collar is representative of most Type II infant life jackets.
Other safety considerations: if you are in the State of California, this infant life jacket falls under California’s Proposition 65.
This is just as important as the safety features. Infants are less understanding of discomfort, and they cannot be reasoned with the way you would reason with grownups. For a fun experience for all the members of your family, make sure the life jacket fits the comfort requirements of your infant.
Nylon shell. The Stearns Infant Classic Series Vest is externally made of nylon. This waterproof material is breathable and smooth against the skin.
Polyethylene foam. This infant life jacket is packed with polyethylene foam. Polyethylene foam is firm and does not collapse easily, making it snug around the baby’s body.
The cut and fit of the Stearns Infant Classic Series Vest is designed to rest as naturally as possible on the infant’s body. The zip-up front enhances the comfort, and so do the close-fitting sides. However, the pillow-collar may be bulky for the infant to wear the entire day, especially if they are very active. When testing the fit, you might want to allow your baby to wear it casually for some time in the house to check their comfort level.
Is the Stearns Infant Classic Series Vest Right for You?
We’ve gone through the safety features, now let’s go through your checklist.
The infant life jacket protects infants 30 lbs. or less. The Stearns Infant Classic Series Vest fits infants who are 30 lbs. or less. Users and wearers have mentioned that it works best on their infants between 18 lbs to 28 lbs. Any smaller and you need to cinch the vest as tight as it will go; any larger and it tends to be quite snug. However, and this is important for safety reasons, never get an infant life jacket that your baby will “grow into.” If it is too big for them now, that would endanger them in an actual boating incident.
The infant life jacket cannot be easily removed by the baby. If you are expressing concern that the zipper and straps are in the front and can be undone by the infant, users have not had that experience. Usually, infants of this age and size will not have the motor control or the strength to lower the zipper or unbuckle the strap. Again, to make sure your infant will manage well with this life jacket, let them wear for it a few hours to see what they try to do with it.
The infant life jacket is primarily for boating. Users who considered it more as a swim toy shared that their infants were upset because the life jacket kept tipping backwards even if the baby wanted to swim face forward. The life jacket is designed to catch and protect an infant in the event of a boating incident. You might want to consider another floater design if you want to teach your infant to swim.
Maintaining Your Stearns Infant Classic Series Vest
An infant life jacket is an investment, and you are making this investment carefully. Let’s take a look at what you need to maintain your Stearns Infant Classic Series Vest in peak condition all year round. First, let’s look at storage space.
A dry area. When your Stearns infant life jacket is not in use, make sure you keep it in a dry area. The sea and sun alternately soak and dry your life jacket for long periods of time. If you want to make sure the material does not become brittle, make sure the area you keep it in is always dry.
Ventilation. While your life jacket needs to be kept dry, it also needs ventilation so that the heat and pressure don’t stress the foam and break into the air pockets that make your life jacket buoyant. When you put your life jacket away, check that there is steady airflow in that space.
Dedicated space. To make sure the air pockets in the foam maintain their integrity, make sure nothing is compressing it on any side. Nothing should be placed on top, or pushed against its side. This will give the air pockets space to remain expanded no matter where you keep it.
Next, let’s look at other tips that will help you.
Drip-drying. When you get home, despite the waterproof nature of the life vest, resist the temptation to wipe it down and put it away. Instead, find a place that it can thoroughly drip-dry. While nylon is waterproof, the fine, tiny weave of the material will still retain water. The webbed weaving of the straps will also remain damp for a while. You need to give it time to release all the water through drip-drying. Don’t pick up a hair-dryer or toss it in front of a heater.
Basic checks. Before and after you put the infant life vest away, do a spot check. Are there white spots on the nylon? It might be a sign of mildew. Is the webbing stretching or fraying? It might be time to double-check the straps. Is the nylon ripped or thinning? It might be time to replace the jacket. But as long as you maintain it properly, it should last you quite a few years.
The Stearns Infant Classic Series Vest Might Be Right For Your Baby
There are a lot of challenges you need to consider when you’re thinking through an infant life jacket, but safety is the primary factor. We made sure it matches our safety checklist, and it might be exactly what you and your baby need. So the next time you think through your boating trip, check the infant life jacket off your list!