Friday, November 4, 2011

Infant Life Jackets

I have had a really hard time with the way life vests fit our kids.  Life jackets are marketed in a way that would suggest that our kids should be able to fit into them comfortably.

K in the West Marine Neoprene Life Vest
We have experimented with, and tried on, numerous life jackets.  K is currently wearing West Marine's Deluxe Kids' Neoprene Life Vest priced at $49.99 (pictured above).  We have also had a generally positive experience with Stearns Hydroprene Life Jacket priced at $34.99.

It has been our M.O. to have both of the kids in life jackets when in transport (the stroller) going up and down the dock.  The problem with this is that most life jackets have too long of a torso for the kids to be sitting in them.  When the kids are in a sitting position, the life jackets push upward and look very uncomfortable in the shoulder and neck areas.

Both K and M wear the same size "newborn" life jacket (birth to 30 lbs.)... I think the size range itself should raise some eyebrows... but this is the standard.  

Salus Marine...

I believe that I have found a superior product from Salus Marine (website) and we intend on purchasing these life vests when we move up to the next size range (which should be soon).  I have tried them on the kids numerous times... and T and I are prepared to make the investment (they are a bit pricey).  

... the practical newborn life vest... 
If M was not such a HUGE baby - OR - if I had had more foresight, I would have purchased Salus Marine's uniquely designed Bijoux infant life vest for babies weighing 9-25lbs.  This design is not US Coast Guard approved as a safety flotation device, however, it was the winner of the Canadian Safe Boating Award (CASBA) for Best New Safety Product.

Manufacturer Photos: 

Additional information from Salus Marine's brochure: 
"The one piece front design ensures that the baby will turn face up from a face forward position.  The 3 piece collar cradles the head when lifted by the collar straps or while the baby is floating on their back. Mesh harness and a short front provide enhanced comfort for sitting upright, lying down or while positioned in a baby carrier."
AMEN - this is exactly what we needed for M.  The Bijoux retails for $69.99 at our local marine store - they can be purchased online as well.

... a toddler life vest that is built for safety, fit, and comfort...

Salus Marine makes a more traditional looking life vest for toddlers.  The thing that is unique about Salus's Nimbus life vest is that its buoyant "ensolite" foam is rounded and contoured (not boxy) for comfort and snug fit.  Additionally, they offer two sizes... 20-30lbs and 30-60lbs.

Manufacturer Photo:
These vests are priced from $69.99-$79.99 at our local marine supply store.  The Nimbus is USCG approved.

As liveaboards, it is important to recognize that your kids will put-on and take-off their life jackets multiple times per day.  Do not purchase a cheap vest that is meant to be worn on very rare occasions and does not have quality, long lasting durability, and comfort in mind. 

Our children's safety is our first priority.  No matter what your living situation, on land or water, there are going to be hazards and safety issues.  Because we choose to live on a boat, we are especially sensitive to water safety issues and potential dangers.  It is our duty to do everything we can to protect our children.  Life jackets can be a hassle and an inconvenience... but they are an absolute necessity.  

Here's to safe sailing! 


  1. Um, email this post to them and ask for a demo that you will do a review on!

  2. Also, add "Salus" in your labels

  3. Great post! Puddle Jumpers, IMO are the best life jackets for kids. You simply them up in the back and let your children enjoy the water with confidence and comfort. Safety is paramount, and the US Coast Guard approval speaks to that.

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