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To ensure that everybody is safe in the water, there are give different flotation devices; an offshore life jacket, near-shore buoyancy vest, a flotation aid, a throwable device and a special use device.
To make life much more simple, it is easier to choose simply between a life jacket and a buoyancy aid for your little ones in the water. The main difference between these is competency swimming; if you are a competent swimmer in sheltered waters, then you can use a buoyancy aid, but if not then a life jacket should be used at all times.
The good news is, once you have chosen and invested in your life jacket, these typically last for almost 10 years. If you are buying one specifically for a baby, you will need to then reinvest again as your little one grows, but the good news is that you only really need to buy once or twice. Check out our guide to the best life jackets for kids.
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Our Top Choice
1. ITWIT Decathlon Buoyancy Aid
This is a Decathlon bestseller and is great value for money. Whilst your child needs to be a confident swimmer when using this, it still provides 70 N buoyancy to keep your child afloat, so will ensure safety when swimming in the sea or pool. The crotch strap underneath also ensures it can't slip off.
This is also well designed for a wide range of water sports, such as kayaking, paddle boarding and in a dinghy, so can be used for something more active than swimming.
- Price: £24.99
- 70. N buoyancy
- Front-fastening buckles
- Crotch strap
- UV resistant
2. Crewsaver Spiral Form Kids Life Jacket
Crewsaver is a Coast Guard-approved brand, so their life jackets for kids are of a particularly high standard to make sure your child is safe. With very large head support, a whistle and reflective tape, these are specially designed for swimming in the sea and for water sports. Their extra accessories are particularly useful if out at sea.
- Price: £46
- 100 N buoyancy
- SOLAS approved reflective tape
- Crutch straps
- Padded head and neck support
Best Buoyancy Vest
Jobe Junior 50 N Kids Buoyancy Aid
This 50 N buoyancy vest is a great buy for water sports and anything particularly active in the water. Whilst this is a simple design, it still provides a good support for your child. With a buoyancy aid, you need to be a competent swimmer and are encouraged to use them in sheltered waters only, but this will be perfect to make sure they stay afloat whilst they splash and play.
- Price: £45
- 50N buoyancy
- Quick-drying nylon material
- Adjustable webbing straps
- Unisex fit
Best For Under 5s
Salus Bijoux Baby Vest
This won an award for the Best New Safety Product, which means it's a great investment for getting your little one out in the water. This is designed specifically for young babies and whilst getting little ones in the water seems daunting, this is perfect to keep them extra safe.
The three-piece collar, head and neck design system cradles your baby's head and ensures extra comfort too, so you can rest easy knowing that your baby is completely supported in the water.
- Price: £152
- Harness system
- Three-piece collar design
- Aerospace liner for breathability and temperature control
- Flotation device for head support
Best Life Vest
Child Reactor USCG Vest
This is approved by the United States Coast Guard, so is a high-quality product for your child and one of the best life vests out there. With additional safety accessories to ensure that the vest can be easily put on and taken off, this is great for children to use independently, only requiring adult supervision to make sure the buckles are tight enough.
You'll be able to spot your child in the sea or pool very quickly thanks to the bright neon green colour of the jacket.
Kidadl Best Buys selects the top parent-recommended products across the web for families of all ages. If you liked our suggestions for life jackets then why not take a look at sun hats, or for something different take a look at kids water bottles.
- Price: £42
- Quick-release safety buckles
- Neck safety loop
- Mesh for drainage
- Zip safety tab
Born in Portsmouth, but currently studying at the University of Birmingham, Grace is the oldest of three sisters. With 13 years between herself and her youngest sister, Nancy, she spends plenty of time seeking out activities that will officially make her the cool big sister! Grace also loves reading, writing and presenting her own show on the University radio.