Last year, one-year old Emeline Miller, the daughter of Olympic gold medalist and former World Cup alpine ski racer Bodie Miller died in a terrible drowning accident at a neighbor’s swimming pool.
Just earlier this year, three-year old River, son of country singer Granger Smith also died after drowning in their family home in Texas.
This only goes to show that when it comes to drowning, everyone is at a huge risk. In fact, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death among children 1 to 4 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it can happen in as little as 1 inch of water.
These young children can drown silently and nine out of ten drowning incidents happen under the supervision of parents or caregivers.
The good news is; there are ways to prevent this tragic accident from happening to children, especially toddlers who are at the highest risk of drowning because they’re small, fast and extremely curious about the world around them.
The best life jackets for toddlers
It’s not hard to find a store that sells life jackets for toddlers. But before you grab the first one you see, you have to remember that a life jacket isn’t just any other toy. It is one of the best ways to protect your toddler against the dangers of being in and around the water.
To make your decision easier, we rounded up the best life jackets for toddlers that you’ll find in the market today:
Full Throttle Child Water Buddies Life Vest
Designed by Full Throttle specifically for toddlers, this life jacket is as child-friendly as it can get.
The Full Throttle Child Water Buddies Life Vest comes in a variety of bright colors for easy spotting and is filled with drawings of dinosaurs, princesses, astronauts and even turtles to make them more fun to wear for the little ones.
But more than the way it looks, this life jacket is fully verified by the US Coast Guard and it includes a uniquely shaped foam at the back to offer comfort and support for the child. The fabric used in the life jacket is also soft to wear but sturdy enough to serve its purpose.
It also comes with a strong grab handle at the collar and double harness buckles to make sure that the life jacket stays in place and a leg strap helps ensure that the child will not slide down the jacket while using it.
When buying the Full Throttle Child Water Buddies Life Vest, you must remember that it is a Type 3 life jacket, which means that it is designed to keep the child afloat but doesn’t necessarily turn them face up. This means that the child needs adult supervision while wearing it.
Airhead Infant Nylon Life Jacket
Supporting a weight of up to 30 lbs., the Airhead Infant Nylon Life Jacket is designed specifically for both infants and toddlers with its big head pillow and big grab strap loop that can be used if the child needs to be rescued.
It is a US Coast Guard-approved Type 2 life jacket, which means that it can help the toddler swim and turn him face up in case of accidents.
The life jacket also comes with three bright yellow adjustable straps that can be easily tightened to fit snugly in the child’s body. It also has a crotch strap to ensure that the child doesn’t slide down from the jacket.
Stearns Child’s Classic Series Life Jacket
One of the top picks for most parents is the Stearns Child Classic Series Life Jacket. With its bright blue and orange colors, the life jacket makes the child easy to spot while in the water and its open sides offer much-needed comfort and mobility that may not be present in a regular PFD.
The life jacket also comes with three adjustable straps and a crotch strap for maximum safety. The Type 3 life jacket can support children weighing up to 50 lbs. and it can be used for just about every water activity including swimming, skiing and boating, making it a great buy for any parent.
Mustang Survival Lil’ Legends 100 Foam Life Jacket
This life jacket may be a more expensive option, but it’s definitely worth the price. The Mustang Survival Lil’ Legends 100 Foam Life Jacket is a huge hit for parents because of its ergonomic head support, extra zipper front closure and its range of sizes to fit toddlers and bigger children.
The life jacket is also one of only a few options on the market that combines the mobility of a Type 3 Jacket and the security of a Type 2 jacket.
It comes in bright yellow and green to make the child visible while in the water and has a crotch strap to keep the life jacket secure on the child even during extreme water activities.
Hyperlite Toddler Indy Life Jacket
It’s hard to miss the Hyperlite Indy Life Jacket even in a pool full of people. Its bright colors and graphics are designed to attract attention and it has several important features that help keep an infant and toddler safe while in the water.
The Hyperlite Indy Life Jacket is most suitable for children under 30 pounds and it designed carefully to ensure that comfort of the little ones. The US Coast Guard-approved life jacket comes with a head pillow, a full front zipper and adjustable strap and a crotch strap to keep it in place.
Essential precautions to protect toddlers from drowning
- Your toddler should always be within your arm’s reach whenever he’s in or around water including swimming pools, beaches or bathtubs. Children of all ages should never be left alone in or around water, even just for a moment.
- According to the Lifesaving Society, the supervision ratio should be at least one adult for every baby or for every two young children. Supervision means giving 100% of your attention and staying in the water with your child within touching distance at all times.
- Babies who are too young to wear a portable flotation device and those who can’t sit without support yet should be held by an adult at all times while in or around the water.
- Children of all ages should undergo swimming lessons to learn the basic skills in water safety. This is also a good opportunity to make children healthier and let them have fun at the same time.
- It’s very important to install proper water barriers at home. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a four-sided fence should be installed to separate the pool from the house and the rest of the backyard. This fence should come with a self-closing, self-latching gate so you can guarantee that it is closed at all times.
- Never rely on just flotation devices to keep toddlers safe. According to Dr. James Callahan of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, “if your little one is a non-swimmer, it’s okay to let her use floatie toys, but only if you’re right there next to her in the water. Parents put too much faith in flotation devices that were never made to be life preservers.”
The importance of investing in life jackets for toddlers
The AAP advises that all toddlers and small children who are non-swimmers should always wear a US Coast Guard-approved well-fitting life jacket every time they are swimming or are near the water.
A life jacket is different from a personal flotation device (PFD), especially when it comes to the safety of small children. A life jacket can turn the child over from being face down to being face up while a PFD can only keep a child afloat but not necessarily face up.
This is why if you’re going to buy a water gear for your toddler, make it a life jacket because it can spell the difference between safety and danger for your child.
Are you ready to shop for life jackets?
Purchasing a life jacket for your toddler is one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. And to guarantee that you are investing in the right safety gear for your child, you need to keep a few things in mind.
For one, never buy a second-hand life jacket because they have an expiration date. There are a lot of inexpensive but fairly decent brand new life jackets out there that you can buy.
You should also see if a life jacket is approved by the US Coast Guard, if it fits well, if it’s suitable for your child’s weight and if it has all the right safety features that you need to protect your child.
Child water safety should be your top priority as a parent. Aside from educating yourself of the dangers of having your toddler in and around water sources like pools, tubs and beaches, you also need to take the necessary steps towards proactively making your child’s environment safer.