Swim vests are a great tool for helping toddlers get comfortable in the water. Here’s a rundown of the best toddler swim vests.
When it comes to the pool (and the beach) the first thing that usually comes to mind is sun and fun. Rightfully so. Right on the heels of the joys of hitting the water is safety, especially if you have little ones.
Drowning is one of the leading accidental causes of death in the United States, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five victims are children .
One of the tools that children can use to not only be safe in the water, but also get more comfortable with the water and learn to enjoy swimming is the toddler swim vest.
For kids who are new to the pool and learning to swim, they can be clingy or anxious when it comes to the water. A swim vest can help to increase “water literacy” by giving them a degree of independence.
Kids swim vest vs. Life jackets
Although they look generally the same, and mostly perform the same functions in the water, there are big differences between a swim vest and a life jacket.
Essentially, whether you choose a swim vest or a life jacket depends on what kind of water you will be hitting.
- Life jackets are generally much thicker for extra buoyancy, are harder to move around in, have several heavy-duty clasps along the front, and many offer thermal protection for chilly open water.
- Swim vests are thinner and designed for the pool and calm bodies of water. While they provide less buoyancy than a life jacket, they give a greater range of motion and give enough mobility and flotation to give young swimmers confidence in the water.
Most swim vests—including all the ones reviewed here—are not certified or approved as a PFD and should not be used as such.
To sum up the difference between the two: Life jackets are designed for survival. Swim vests are designed for play.
Of course, it should be noted that neither a life jacket or a swim vest act as a substitute for proper adult supervision.
Okay, with all that fun stuff behind us, here’s a list of our favorite swim vests and floatie suits for toddlers.
Speedo Kids Begin-to-Swim Vest
Speedo is one of the most popular makers of swimming gear and accessories, and their child line is just as popular as the stuff they sell for the most seasoned competitive swimmer.
In the case of our youngest swimmers, their swim vest, the Speedo Kids Begin-to-Swim Classic Swim Vest, Speedo has developed a comfortable and adjustable vest for kids from 2-6 years of age.
The Speedo swim vest is opened and closed from the front and has an additional Velcro clasp at the top to keep the vest on while in the water.
Made with a soft neoprene (the same stuff that your open water and triathlon wet-suits are made of), the vest gives the child plenty of arm and leg mobility while also featuring a safety strap that wraps around the bottom of the child to keep it secured.
Splash About Flotation Suit
For many, swimming in the pool means being outside. For outdoor pools, there is an added consideration for keeping your kiddo safe and comfortable, and that is protection from the sun.
The Splash About Sun Protection Floatie Suit, with its half-sleeves and jammer-length legs, give your child both flotation and protection from the sun. Although not technically a swim vest, it performs many of the same functions, along with the bonus coverage of the suit material.
The float suit comes with a band of floaties around the torso—sixteen separate buoys in all—that provide a flexible and complete fit. Because the Splash About Flotation Suit is more of a suit, and not just a vest, it means that it will stay on. Simply open the back zipper to help the child in and off they go.
The Splash About Flotation Suit comes in three different sizes, geared towards children of 1-2 years, 2-4, and 4-6, and come in 8 different colors and prints for both boys and girls.
MP Swim Method Swim Vest
When Michael Phelps and Speedo parted ways back in 2014 you knew that he would come out with his own signature line of swimming accessories, including his own racing goggles. As Phelps as grown, and now has two kids of his own, the swim gear line has also grown to include swimming aids for toddlers, including swim vests.
Unlike the Speedo vests, the MP Swim Vest distributes the flotation across the torso, giving the child a more even sense of flotation in the water. This is a more natural feeling, allowing kiddo to swim and float, and not just bob up and down in the water.
The MP Swim Vest has a handle on the back of the vest to help steady the child’s body position in the water, multiple adjustment straps, and comes in a green/blue and pink. The vests come in two sizes, accommodating children 2-6 years of age, and from 33-66 pounds.