Stohlquist Infant Life Jacket Features
The essential checklist for choosing an infant life jacket should put safety above all. Both comfort and affordability are secondary, although similarly essential. Even in this review, we first lay out the safety features that this model has to offer you and your baby, before moving on to its distinguishing characteristics for comfort and affordability.
The Stohlquist infant life jacket meets 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 Stohlquist is considered one of the most if not the most comfortable of infant life jackets. It is not as bulky and fits better than most, is easier to hold and is cooler and easier for babies to wear. However, because of the slim and round design, the jacket sometimes fails to fully flip the baby on his back.
Safety Features Of The Stohlquist Infant Life Jacket
The Jacket Is USCG Approved. On the jacket’s label, the first section to look for is the line that begins with the “U.S. Coast Guard Approval” number. The label holds the model number and accepted weight range for the life jacket. If the weight range is less than 30 lbs and you see the USCG approval number, it has been approved for infant use.
The Stolquist infant life jacket is USCG approved. It adds 7 lbs of buoyancy to the baby’s natural level, and the foam content is approved for recreational boating vests. The approval also means that it passed the inspection on overall quality: there should be no rips, tears, or overall weaknesses in the model.
The Jacket Works For Infants Below 30 lbs. While adult life jacket sizes depend on the chest size of the adult, jackets from youth-size to infant-size depend on the baby’s weight. The buoyancy of the jackets are tailored for those weight ranges, which makes it important for the correct life jacket size to be chosen.
The Stohlquist infant life jacket meets the USCG-approved 7-lb buoyancy for infant life vests, so it only effectively supports the weight of infants 30 lbs and below. We recommend that a baby not be put into a life vest until he or she is 16 lbs heavy or 6 months old, to ensure the best fit, but it works for any baby in that weight range.
The Jacket Has A Flotation Collar. The inability of babies to hold their heads up properly until they are 6 months old is their greatest risk in the water. While even children with slight swimming skills may hold their faces out of the water for short amounts of time, babies are physically incapable of it.
The Stohlquist infant life jacket has two flotation collar layers. The smaller, inside one pillows the baby’s head and supports the nape and back of his head so that it remains out of the water. The second, outer layer extends past the crown of the baby’s head and on either side of it. It drains any water flow so that his eyes, ears, nose, and mouth are protected.
The Jacket Has A Grab Loop. The grab loop on an infant life jacket is a safety feature that allows rescuers to quickly pull the infants out of the water. The presence of a grab loop minimizes other risks to the baby, notably hypothermia–the body going into shock after contact with the water temperature–and the risk of the baby drifting farther.
The Stohlquist infant life jacket has a grab loop ringed with flotation beads, making it easier to spot and easier to grab since the loop cannot close. For both the pink and the bright yellow models, the grab loops are bright and easy to spot. The unrecommended dark blue model has a black, nearly invisible grab loop.
The Jacket Has A Crotch Strap. The crotch strap on a life vest prevents the vest from riding up on the wearer’s face, especially upon strong impact with the water. It contributes to the snug fit of the life vest, which increases its safety.
The Stohlquist infant life jacket is equipped with a crotch strap passing between the baby’s legs to a buckle in the front. The strap, when properly tightened, improves the security of the life jacket as a buoyant second skin for the baby. The vest can roll the baby over easier when the fit is snug.
The Jacket Is Brightly Colored. The risks to a baby in the water, including hypothermia, the risk of drift, or the risk of collision, cannot be discounted in choosing the life jacket’s color. Blue or white jackets are harder to spot, no matter the shade, so neon colors should be chosen instead.
The Stohlquist comes in bright reddish pink with equally bright yellow straps and lining, as well as blinding sunshine yellow with blue straps and lining. These are both recommended as the best shades to minimize the risks to your baby in case the worst occurs. The rescuers will have a better chance of spotting the vest and pulling your baby out.
The Jacket Is Designed To Flip The Baby On His Or Her Back. For infants, and even children who cannot swim, the greatest challenge for them is getting their faces out of their water to float on their backs. For infants this is even a greater concern, since they cannot yet hold their heads up for extended periods of time.
The Stohlquist infant life jacket is designed for wrap-around flotation, meaning that the infant should easily rotate onto his back when he falls face-down into the water. However, active children attempting to flounder can prevent the vest’s rotation, as can their weight if the the life jacket is not snug enough.
Comfort Features Of The Stohlquist Infant Life Jacket
The Stohlquist infant life jacket is designed much thinner in the front than most infant life jackets, and it bends and wraps around the baby. This is part of the wrap-around rotational design of its flip-over safety feature. The other effect is that the front is not chunky, and the flat pieces of foam do not press uncomfortably on the baby’s chest with little room for movement.
The sides of the baby’s life jacket are left open, so that he can wave his arms freely. The points of close contact are on the back, the chest, the shoulders, the hips, and the head. The smaller, inside layer of the flotation collar supports the baby’s head even when not in the water, giving him a pillow. The front is cut farther away from the baby’s neck with the zipper only reaching the baby’s chest, so it does not constrict his face.
To ensure a snug fit, there is a nylon strap to be tightened around the waist, and the front is secured by a zipper. The crotch strap also contributes to the fit, as does the wrap-around design. This is important: if the baby is too large (over 30 lbs) or the life jacket too tight, the baby’s lungs will be constricted–a dangerous thing in a boat outing.
Some babies will happily wear this jacket for hours because of its comfort level. If your family goes for boating outings often, as much as once a week or twice a month, this infant life jacket is a valuable option. If the infant needs to be wrapped in the life jacket so regularly, his comfort becomes more and more important for his safety and your overall enjoyment of the trip.
What not to expect from this infant life jacket: it is primarily a rescue device, not a flotation device. It is not designed for children who are learning to swim, or who want to play while floating upright. If the baby is placed in the pool with his back down, he will remain with his back down even if he struggles to go upright. If he is allowed to fight against the natural design of the life jacket, it may flip him the wrong way.
Affordability Of The Stohlquist Infant Life Jacket
The Stohlquist infant life jacket is somewhat pricey, but it provides a durable, lightweight, and most importantly a comfortable option for an infant life jacket. For families who take frequent and regular boating trips and outings, this is the better choice despite the price. The comfort level is higher, important if the baby will be asked to wear the jacket so often. If the boating events are regular but not frequent, a less comfortable, more affordable option may work just as well.
Is the Stohlquist Infant Life Jacket Right For You?
It depends on your lifestyle and criteria for the infant life jacket. The Stohlquist Unisex Infant Life Jacket is very comfortable, but the wrap-around design of the flip-up safety feature may not work if your infant is extremely active. The affordability also depends on how often you will be using the jacket. If all of the features are on your checklist, then the Stohlquist Infant Life Jacket is perfect for you.