8 Best PFD ( Personal Flotation Device) Life Jackets For Kids, Toddlers & Preschoolers

8 Best PFD ( Personal Flotation Device) Life Jackets For Kids, Toddlers & Preschoolers

 Best PFD Life Jackets for Kids 

The sport of paddle boarding has boomed in recent years. Not only are we seeing more adults out on the water, but kids and toddlers are participating, too.

Paddle boarding is a great way to get kids performing different activities out on the water. This helps improve their water confidence while having a fun time. Even if your kids aren’t into sports, paddle boarding can be done by kids of all abilities.

Paddle boarding also helps develop fitness, coordination, balance, and confidence in kids of all ages.

 Why Kids Should Wear A PFD Life Jacket? 

Kids should always wear a life jacket, also called a personal flotation device (PFD), when out on the water. Even if your kid can swim, we still highly recommend they wear a life jacket. Life jackets add buoyancy and a layer of protection in case of emergencies.

Life jackets can help keep kids afloat and warm while waiting for help, and every second counts in serious situations. Even if the water looks calm, open waters can be dangerous. Open waters can contain unseen elements such as cold water, currents, rapid changes, rocks, and weeds.

Every single year we hear horror stories of experienced adult swimmers getting caught by these unseen dangers. Not wearing a life jacket is not worth risking.

 Types of PFD Life Jacket for Kids 

Types of PFD Life Jacket for Kids


Life jackets are also known as personal flotation devices (PFDs), and they range from type 1 to type 5.

Here are the 5 types of PFDs:

Type 1 PFD (Offshore Life Jacket):

  • Type 1 is the most buoyant life jacket.
  • Designed for all conditions, particularly rough, open, and remote waters.
  • They have the ability to turn the wearer’s body to a face-up position while in the water.
Type 2 PFD (Near-Shore Buoyant Vest):
  • Designed for calm, inland waters.
  • They have the ability to turn some bodies to the face-up position.
Type 3 PFD (Flotation Aid):
  • Designed for calm, inland waters.
  • Does not have the ability to turn bodies to the face-up position.
Type 4 PFD (Throwable Device):
  • Designed for calm, inland waters with close boat assistance.
  • It is thrown into the water for a person to hold onto while they await rescue.
Type 5 PFD (Special Use Devices):
  • Designed for specific water sport activities in specific conditions.
  • Each special use device has its own function.

 How to Choose PFDs for Kids 

We recommend that kids wear a type 1, type 2, or type 3 PFD, depending on the location of the water and what services are nearby.

In more unpredictable waters, choose a type 1 or type 2 PFD.

Sizing a PFD for Kids

Never choose a life jacket that is too big for a kid, in the hope they will grow into it. The PFD should always fit the child properly.

PFDs are designed to keep the kids head above the water, therefore must fit properly. Sizes are based on the kids’ weight:
  • Infant PFD: 8-30lbs – with padded head support, grab handle, and a crotch strap.
  • Child PFD: 30-50lbs
  • Youth PFD: 50-90lbs

 Best PFD Life Jackets for Kids and Toddlers   

The following PFDs are great options for kids and toddlers.

STEARNS Heads-Up Child Vest

Stearns Heads-Up Child Vest PFD Life Jacket

Designed specifically for children, with additional contoured float above the neck to support face-up flotation.

An attached rescue handle allows easy access to the child in the water. Contains reflective material to make easy spotting and crotch strap prevents the vest from riding up.


  • Reflective material
  • 3-in-1 strap
  • Great buoyancy
  • Keeps the child on their back
  • Durable


  • Runs small
  • The neck hole is tight

Stearns Heads-Up Child Vest
  • Made of the highest qualitiy materials
  • Personal flotation device
  • Another quality Stearns product

STEARNS Youth Boating Vest

STEARNS Youth Boating PFD Vest Outdoor recreation

Designed for youths, this jacket keeps kids safe and comfortable on the water.

The PFD has an open-sided design for increased breathability and maneuverability. Contains a 3-in-1 adjustable strap for a safe fit.


  • Secure fit
  • Excellent flotation
  • Great maneuverability


  • Runs small
  • The neck hole is tight

Stearns Youth Classic Boating Vests (Blue,50 - 90 Pound)
  • Nylon construction
  • Three buckle design
  • Weight: 50-90lbs

Onyx All Adventure Child Vest

Onyx All Adventure Child PFD Life Jacket Vest

Child’s type 3 PFD designed for a range of water sports activities.

This vest is lightweight with flotation foam, with bright colors for increased visibility. The vest has a zipped front, waist belts, and a leg strap for maximum security.


  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Reflective


  • Does not turn children face-up if they are face down

Onyx Children's All Adventure Life Vest, Pink/Purple
  • Lightweight, durable flotation foam with durable nylon outer shell
  • Bright colored shoulders for increased visibility
  • Seven segmented hinge points

Body Glove Dinosaur Swim Life Jacket

Body Glove Dinosaur Swim PFD Life Jacket

Child’s type 3 PFD designed for recreational boating.

This life jacket comes with attached arm bands, great for children learning to swim. Safety shoulders prevent unwanted removal, and rear safety belt helps get the perfect fit.


  • Coast guard approved
  • Fun and comfortable


  • Does not turn children face-up if they are face down

Body Glove Dinosaur Swim Life Jacket Multicolor, Child
10,411 Reviews
Body Glove Dinosaur Swim Life Jacket Multicolor, Child
  • PADDLE PALS – Safest Patented U.S. Coast Guard Approved “Learn to Swim” life jacket with attached arm bands for teaching kids to safely learn to swim
  • SAFETY SHOULDER HARNESS – Prevents children from removing the vest without parental help and keeps the vest from sliding off during use
  • SUPERIOR COMFORT – Prevents chafing, made with a durable polyester material and multi panel design for superior comfort


6 Best Stand Up Paddle Boards For Kids and Teenagers

STEARNS Original Puddle Jumper Kids Life Jacket

STEARNS Original Puddle Jumper Kids PFD Life Jacket

Child’s type 3 PFD designed for water sport activities performed in safe areas.

Provides a tight fit, while allowing children to comfortably play and move in the water. Built-in armbands help children build their swimming ability and confidence.


  • Fun design
  • No chafing
  • Coast guard approved


  • Does not turn children face-up if they are face down

STEARNS Stearns Original Puddle Jumper Kids Life Jacket

Stearns Original Puddle Jumper Kids Life Jacket | Life Vest for Children
  • Brand New Kids Coleman Stearns **Puddle Jumper Life Jacket** Green in Color!
  • For children 30 50 lbs.
  • Coast Guard Approved

Stohlquist Youth Fit Life Jacket

Stohlquist Fit Youth Life Jacket:Personal Flotation Device, Youth 50-90 lbs

Youth jacket with sculpted paneling for improved mobility in the water.

Three-buckle entry allows for a safe, secure fit. Thin back improves compatibility with any backrests used on your board.


  • Wraparound flotation
  • Quick-release buckles


  • Bulky, and may cause chafing

Stohlquist FIT Youth (50-90 Lbs) High Mobility PFD Life Jacket Vest - Coast Guard Approved for KIds,...
  • THE ESSENTIALS OF COMFORT AND SAFETY - Made of super-soft, low-profile buoyancy foam for maximum comfort. This life jacket gives the child full body hugging comfort while the efficient forward pull...
  • ZIPPER UP - Take your personable items on the go with the zippered pocket. Use it to securely hold whatever you need on land or on water such as accessories and snacks, Buoyancy:12-14 lbs, Foam...
  • FEEL THE MOVEMENT - Life vests can be irritating for kids. That's why we've made sure to design this kids PFD with full adjustability at sides and shoulders to secure placement on their torso

Stohlquist Kids Life Jacket

Stohlquist Kids Life Jacket Coast Guard Approved Life PFD Vest for Children

Child’s life jacket with zipper and quick-release buckles for security. Foam band and padded head support aids flotation and moving the child into the face-up position.

This jacket also comes with a large handle to easily grab children if they are in danger.


  • Bright color
  • Neck support
  • Buckle and straps


  • Expensive
  • Zipper can cause chafing

Stohlquist Kids Life Jacket Coast Guard Approved Life Vest for Children-Aqua/Pink-Child
  • Available in high visibility colors
  • Quick release buckle over entry zipper for added security
  • Adjustable crotch strap

Gogokids Kids Swim Life Jacket

Gogokids Kids Swim PFD Vest Life Jacket

Child’s life jacket with a wraparound style allows for great mobilization at the shoulders for swimming.

High-quality neoprene material aids buoyancy and warmth, giving children and parents confidence in the water.

Adjustable crotch and chest straps give a tight fit for maximum safety and security.

Gogokids Kids Swim PFD Vest Life Jacket benefits


  • Fun design
  • Secure fit
  • Great maneuverability


  • Bulky, and may cause chafing

Gogokids Kids Swim Vest Folat Jacket - Boys Girls Floation Swimsuit Buoyancy Swimwear
  • 【Great Design】Jacket style, it wraps around the child's torso and keeps arms free for swimming.
  • 【Neoprene Material】Top quality neoprene for warmth and buoyancy, give children more confidence in swimming learning.
  • 【Comfort & Safety】Adjustable chest strap with quick-release buckles for comfort and safety.


Children should always wear a personal flotation device (PFD) life jacket, regardless of their swimming abilities.

When you purchase a paddle board for your kids, remember to also buy a life jacket that will fit appropriately and be comfortable while they go out and enjoy paddle boarding in the water.

A PFD life jacket can save a child’s life if they get caught in a dangerous situation while paddle boarding.

PFD jackets vary in their contribution to life-threatening situations, but we recommend fitting children with either a type 1, type 2, or type 3, depending on the water conditions, nearby support, and swimming ability.

Continue to do your research on the best PFD life jackets for your children so that you can have peace of mind while they have fun and are being safe while paddle boarding.

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