10 Best Child Float Suits of 2021 (Buyers Guide!)

When summer arrives or anytime your family will be near the water, everyone needs a flotation device for water safety. The vests that you use won’t work for your children, so you’ll need to find a flotation suit to keep your children safe in the water.

Flotation suits should fit well, not too tight and not too loose. The fit of a flotation suite is vital to saving your child’s life should anything happen in the water. With this in mind, you’ll need to choose a flotation suit that specifically addresses the needs of children.

We’ve put together a list of our top choices for the best child float suit. Whether you choose a bathing suit with flotation or some other type of floater suit, our list has what you need, including floatation swimwear reviews. Plus, we’ve answered some questions you may have about how to choose and what to expect. Here’s what you need to know.
(You can read our other articles Best Infant Float Suits for 6-12 months of age, Best Toddler Float Suits for 1-2 years of age)

Product Table

The Best Child Flotation Suit Reviews – Our Top Picks 

These are our favorite picks for the best child floatation suits. Each one is durable and offers excellent service. In no particular order, here are some of the best.

1. Speedo Unisex-Child Swim Flotation Classic Life Vest Begin to Swim UPF 50

Speedo’s child vest is a unisex option for children who are getting used to swimming and need a boost. It’s 100% polyester and uses a neoprene construction for buoyancy. It has a UV block, and the full front zipper is an easy way to get on and off. 

The clip underneath prevents the vest from coming up over the head and provides an extra securing layer to keep the jacket in the correct position. A safety closure helps secure the zipper in the closed position.

It’s not PFD rated, so you’ll need to use it in calm water such as a pool. However, it does give you some peace of mind that your child will have support in the water until he or she gains more confidence. It comes in two different sizes to fit most older children.

Pros:

  • Secure zip closure
  • Helps children gain water confidence
  • Includes both UVA and UVB protection

Cons:

  • May cause some chaffing
  • Not PFD rated

2. SwimSchool Swim Trainer Vest

The Swim School swim trainer vest is another simple option for children who are just learning to swim. It features a front zipper design for easy on and off and is recommended for ages two to four years. It helps beginning swimmers gain confidence as they become more comfortable with the water.

A flex form fit stays tight without chaffing as much, and the UV fabric helps protect your little one from sunburn. It holds your child in the prone position as they learn to swim. The heavy-duty zipper is durable, and a closure helps prevent de-positioning.

The buckle helps prevent the vest from coming up over your child’s head accidentally, and it comes in two different sizes (20-30 pounds, 30-50 pounds) for a precise fit. It’s padded for comfort and comes in a few different sizes. 

Pros:

  • Builds swimming confidence for young learners
  • Heavy-duty zipper stays in place
  • Offers UV protection with a comfortable fabric

Cons:

  • Not PFD rated
  • May fit a little loose for some children

3. Splash About Collections Float Suit

The Splash About float suit is a single flotation and bathing suit all in one. It features a classic one-piece bathing suit design with removable floats around the middle to customize the amount of flotation. 

It provides a UV protection of 50 with a comfortable, stretchy fabric that won’t tear or puncture. It offers several different patterns for your child’s preference, and a back zipper makes it easier to get on and off with the floats intact.

The fabric is chlorine resistant. You’ll need to help your child practice getting their balance correctly as they’re in the water. It’s not Coast Guard certified, but it will provide you with a valuable tool to help your child get comfortable in the pool.

It comes in sizes 1T to 6X and is a more familiar type of flotation for children. If your child struggles to keep a vest on while in the pool, this may make them more comfortable.

Pros:

  • Adjustable floats for more control
  • Soft material with back zipper
  • Includes an SPF protection

Cons:

  • Not Coast Guard certified
  • Will require some training and coordination

4. Splash About Happy Nappy Swimsuit

The Happy Nappy style suit is a flotation option with more coverage for your child. It operates more like a wet suit than a bathing suit, allowing your child’s vulnerable areas to remain protected from the sun. 

The removable floats around the middle allow you to control and customize flotation as your child gains more confidence in the water. It removes the restriction from around the arms and legs, helping your child swim more efficiently.

It comes in several sizes designed to fit ages one year to six years and reduces friction as your child moves in the water. It’s not Coast Guard rated, but the float does help your child be more confident during swimming. Keep to calm waters with supervision, but it can help you support your child.

It has a zipper in the back to help you get it on and off. Make sure that the fit is exactly right and that you’re around to supervise playtime.

Pros:

  • Less restricted movement
  • Removable floats for customization
  • Covers sun-sensitive areas like shoulders

Cons:

  • The fit can be tricky to get right
  • Requires supervision more than most

5. Body Glove Paddle Pals Learn to Swim Life Jacket

The Body Glove is a flotation option that uses classic water wing arms with a midsection to keep floating. It’s a patented design with Coast Guard approval, and the safety shoulder harness provides extra fit. 

The safety clip is sturdy and adjusts to help give the vest a better overall fit. It’s designed to keep a child’s head above the water while gaining confidence in swimming. It’s easy to adjust and clean while the quick-release harness makes getting the vest on and off easier.

Polyester is a durable, puncture-proof material while the rear safety buckle design helps prevent children from removing or tampering with the vest. It’s approved for a Type III child’s PFD for recreational boating and water activities.

Pros:

  • Coast Guard approved Type III child’s flotation device
  • Rear safety buckle to prevent children from removing the vest
  • Quick-release buckle design for easy on and off

Cons:

  • The arm sleeves are a little bulky
  • The sizing may run a bit large for children

6. Oceans7 US Coast Guard Approved, Child Life Jacket

The Oceans7 is another Coast Guard-approved jacket designed to support your child for recreational boating and places other than in the pool. It’s not a swim aid but a genuine life vest that will help save your child’s life.

It offers the highest USCG standards and uses a sturdy material designed to be a puncture-proof material. It comes in a range of sizes and provides an easy on and easy off design. The size range is expansive so that you can get the right size.

Three adjustable straps and a strap that goes between the legs help keep the vest in place even if your child loses consciousness. It’s a little bulky, but it’s designed to ensure your child is safe in recreational water activities.

Pros:

  • Coast Guard approved with the highest standards
  • Ultra-adjustable fit 
  • Includes a range of sizes

Cons:

  • Bulkier than some swim options
  • Could be overkill for casual swimming

7. Konfidence The Original Jacket

The jacket from Konfidence is a simple-to-use jacket designed to help your child gain more confidence in the water with a streamlined design. The durable zipper helps secure the fit and prevents the vest from coming up over your child’s head.

The vest is designed to prevent chafing around the arms for less restrictive movements. The neoprene and lycra blend is comfortable for kids to wear. Because the vest is more comfortable than some, children are less likely to fight wearing it.

It offers natural thermal protection across the chest so that children can play longer and stay safe in colder water. The vest is independently tested and adheres to the highest standards of the European safety certification.

Pros:

  • Independently tested for safety standards
  • Design is less restrictive on the arms
  • Provides thermal protection

Cons:

  • Sizing runs small
  • No under-strap to help secure the vest in place

8. TRC Recreation Kids Super Soft USCG Vest

The super-soft vest is a comfortable option for children who are bothered by materials on other vests. It uses vinyl-coated foam to give your child a safety tested, yet comfortable garment designed for recreational water activities. It’s Coast Guard approved.

The premium material is designed to be tear and puncture-resistant while the adjustable straps provide the right fit. The under strap ensures that the vest can’t come up over your child’s head. It’s durable and lightweight, but may not be as breathable as some other materials.

It comes in four different sizes so that you can get a snug fit without it being too tight. It comes in several colors so your child can pick his or her preference. Just be sure you measure carefully because the vinyl doesn’t give as much as other material.

Pros:

  • Coast Guard approved for recreational water activity
  • Comes in several colors
  • Highly durable material

Cons:

  • Not as breathable of a material
  • Bulky underneath the arms despite soft material

9. Zerlar Floatation Swimsuits with Adjustable Buoyancy

The Zerlar flotation suit provides a simple solution for swimming confidence. It features a classic swimsuit design with removable flotation additions to customize the float needs, giving your child confidence in the water as he or she learns to swim.

It is not certified by the coast guard to be a personal flotation device, so you’ll have to supervise closely as your child swims in an enclosed space. The suit is durable and puncture-resistant, allowing your child freedom of movement, and it’s comfortable.

It has been safety tested by independent sources, and it includes a variety of color choices to please your child. It’s a wonderful swim aid for your child, giving you some peace of mind as your child gets used to the water.

Pros:

  • Traditional swimsuit design with floats
  • Easy to get on and off
  • Comes in a variety of colors

Cons:

  • Not certified for recreational boating
  • No snaps or zippers

10. Puddle Jumper Kids 2-in-1 Life Jacket and Rash Guard

The two in one puddle jumper float provides both a rash guard and a flotation device in one. It features longer sleeves to cover delicate areas such as the shoulders. It allows flexible movements with less chaffing. 

It’s very comfortable, and the zipper with adjustable back buckle helps secure the vest well and doesn’t let children mess the fit. It’s Coast Guard approved for recreational activities and will keep your child safe in more open water.

Ensure you have a well-fitting vest with proper functionality. Woven polyester is a soft option that could please pickier children. It is a bit bulky, but because of the comfortable fabric, children have plenty of freedom of movement. 

Pros:

  • A rash guard protects delicate skin
  • Soft polyester provides good movement
  • Coast guard approved

Cons:

  • It’s a bit bulky
  • Tricky to get the right fit

Child Float Suit Buyers Guide – Your guide to selecting the best product

Let’s take a look at a few things you’ll need to know to choose a flotation device. Let’s answer a few questions.

Types of Flotation Swimwear

Life vests are rated for different types of activities. To determine the kind of life vest, you’ll need to focus on the type of activity you’ll be doing. This advice also goes for any life jacket that you’ll buy for yourself as well. 

Type I — Offshore use

This jacket is designed for highly challenging areas where you may not have rescue right away. It’s designed to turn an unconscious person right side up and to withstand rough, choppy waters. This type of vest probably won’t be suitable for your child because they’re bulky.

Type II — Nearshore use

This type is for calm waters or general boating activities. It will still turn an unconscious swimmer upright in some cases, but not all. It’s less bulky than a type one and is most suitable for casual boating activities.

Type III — Flotation aids

Flotation aids are for calm or inland waters only and aren’t designed to turn an unconscious swimmer upright. However, they will provide swim support for children who are learning and getting confident around water.

Floaty Suit Designs

There are a few different designs as well. The type of water activity will also help determine the design. Although children will prefer having nothing, a flotation suit will provide some safety.

Traditional

The traditional life vest is inherently buoyant. It doesn’t require any inflation or extra steps — it just works. The entire system is simple and safe for children. If you’re looking at standard safety when purposefully in the water, these are the way to go.

They’re typically a little bulky, but they’ll perform well in a variety of situations. Teaching your child to expect the flotation device while near or in the water will help your child understand that it must be worn at all times. 

Inflatable

The inflatable option inflates on contact with water. It’s not suitable for swimming, but it can offer an extra layer of protection if your children happen to be near the water. It’s best for when you don’t plan to go in the water with your child, but falls are possible.

There are also manual types of inflatables, but these aren’t recommended. Children may not be able to deploy the inflatable in a scary situation, and if you aren’t right there, it’s dangerous. In most cases, this is not going to work out for what you need.

Hybrid

Hybrid options are both at the same time. They’re a standard life vest or flotation suit and have an extra inflatable layer that’s automatic or requires manual inflation. The choice can be bulky and is best for safety purposes where you aren’t sure what will happen.

Hybrid options aren’t very comfortable for extended wear, even less so than traditional flotation suits. It’s best if you stick to something conventional so that there’s no malfunction, and your child isn’t as tempted to try to take it off.

How to Find The Right Flotation Suit

The vest won’t do much good if you don’t have the right fit or the right kind. Here’s what you need to know to get exactly the correct type of vest for your child.

  1. Measure your child — Taking measurements helps you check the manufacturer’s sizing chart against your child’s real-life measurements instead of just a sizing based on age. 
  1. Check the fit — If it’s possible to try the floater suit on in person, this is the best way to find out if the fit is correct. If not, try it on before your child goes into the water, so you have time to pivot if the fit isn’t quite right.
  1. Materials — Take a good look at the materials of the floater suit so that you understand its limitations. Does it provide thermal protection? Are the seams reinforced? Is it thick or thin? Can your child move freely with the materials? 
  1. Purpose — Understand that each of the types of child floater suits has a purpose. Some are heavy-duty and designed for rough waters. Others are more like traditional bathing suits and help children gain confidence in the water. Some are vests, and some have arm attachments. Consider how you’ll use it.
  1. Coast Guard approval — If you plan to be in the open water on a boat or some other water vehicle, you’ll need a coast guard approved life vest for everyone on board, and that includes a child vest for every kid on board.
  1. Sun protection — Vests and suits with sun protection are a big help in protecting your child’s delicate skin. You can put sunscreen underneath, but the vest is likely to wear it off more quickly, causing potential damage to the skin. Look for materials with full-spectrum protection.
  1. Continually check performance — Once you’ve decided on your suit, continuously ensure that the fit, construction, and flotation is up to par. Children are hard on clothing, so it may be appropriate to reevaluate their suit each time you swim.

Advantages of a Float Suit 

Whether you’re going for a full-fledged floater suit or a just a vest of some sort, the most significant advantage is safety. Drowning can happen in a matter of minutes, even in still water, and there’s no way to watch your child every single minute.

Even if there were a way, water is unpredictable. If you’re in the river or lake, you can get separated quickly by a current, and that float suit can be the difference of life or death. It’s not worth risking.

If you’re using a swim aid in the pool, that gives you a few minutes to get to your child in case of an emergency. Children can drown quickly, even in a pool, so choosing to swim with some type of swim aid gives you better peace of mind as your child gains confidence.

Younger children especially need a device that keeps their head partially above water enough for them to turn and float. As they gain more confidence with their movements in water, you can customize the floats in many of the bathing suits with flotation to allow more freedom of movement.

If you plan to swim in open waters, you’ll need a Coast Guard-approved life vest for everyone on board, plus appropriate child versions for every child. Complying saves you a lot of hassle if you’re ever called out by the Coast Guard. Plus, it’s safer to follow the rules.

Drowning can happen quickly, in a matter of minutes, in some cases, in calm waters. Check out our interactive resource for US Drowning Statistics, Worldwide Drowning Statistics, and Drowning Prevention. This will give you an idea of why your child must have a floater suit or life vest to be safe in the water.

A child vest also helps teach your child a lifetime of safe habits around the water. Adults are just as in danger of drowning even in calm conditions, so begin teaching your children to wear the proper safety gear around water, just like they wear seat belts in the car. 

Drawbacks of Floater Suits

There aren’t many disadvantages to drowning versus not drowning, but wearing the suit can be challenging. One of the most significant drawbacks of the suit is how challenging it may be to find the right fit for your child due to growing, changing bodies.

You’ll have to check your child’s flotation swimwear every time you plan to head to the water to ensure it has the right fit. However, if this isn’t something you’re willing to do, it may be best to stick to splash pads and sprinklers in the summer.

Certain types of floaters suits will require getting used to them. They are not meant to hold your unconscious child upright in the water, and you’ll have to teach your child how to turn the right way for the float to work.

You’ll also need to supervise closely to ensure that the bathing suit with flotation doesn’t impede your child’s ability to move their head out of the water. In some cases, younger children may get trapped by ill-placed floats. Test this out in the water and always remain close by to ensure you’re available to turn them upright if something happens.

Floater suits have always had trouble fitting large sizes. While children don’t exactly fall into this category, you may need to expand as your child gets older and needs a 2xl, 3xl, 4xl, 5xl, or 6xl. You also may have to find your own suit if you’re over 200 pounds, over 250 pounds, or over 300 pounds.

Children may have the opposite problem, however. Small children could have trouble finding a suit that fits well, so ensure you measure and find one that comes in extra small sizes with an under leg band to improve the fit.

To counteract some of these drawbacks, keep these things close in your mind:

  • Check the fit. Then recheck it, and recheck.
  • Always supervise your child in the water and remain vigilant.
  • Consider what you’re using the floaty suit for and purchase accordingly.

How to Use Child Float Suit The Right Way

Let’s take a look at a few things you’ll need to know to ensure your floater suit is used correctly.

  • Does my child need a flotation suit or life vest? — Absolutely your child needs something to protect them from drowning. It can happen so quickly, so remove the doubt and invest in something.
  • What’s the difference between a flotation suit and a life vest? — Technically a life vest is Coast Guard approved for open water to keep your child’s head out of the water even if they’re unconscious. A float suit is a swim aid designed for confidence in the water.

The difference matters a lot, depending on what you’re doing. If you’re in a pool with your child, you don’t need something Coast Guard certified. If you’re on a dock or in the river, it’s best.

  • What age should my children wear a flotation device? — There are versions of float vests even for infants, so the answer is right away. As soon as you begin entering the water with your child, it’s the right time to start training them to wear a water safety garment.
  • How do I know the floater suit fits? — When your child is in the water, the flotation should never come over the chin or ears. The suit fits if it remains in place even through the buoyancy of water, calm or not. If you have trouble even with the right size and strap adjustments, find a suit with an underleg strap to ensure that it stays in place.

Maintaining Your Child Float Suit

To get the most out of your child’s floater suit, there are a few things you need to do to keep it in top shape.

Inspect your suit before and after each swim time to ensure that seaming is intact, and there are no rips or tears in either the material or the flotation pieces.

Clean the floater suit gently to remove any chlorine, dirt, or salt. Don’t crush the interior flotation or flatten it. Instead, soak it in a gentle soap solution and clean it with a cloth or soft brush.

Hang it up to allow it to dry completely. Whether you wash it or not, always hang it up so that it can dry adequately. Otherwise, you run the risk of mold and mildew developing both on the surface and in the float material.

Replace any suit that doesn’t fit, has tears or holes in the fabric, or shows wear at the seams and zippers. The garment must be reliable in the water with no weak spots.

Best Child Float Suit Comparison Chart 

Product NamePriceFit For (Weight)ColoursDistinct Features
Speedo Unisex-Child Swim Flotation Classic Life Vest Begin to Swim UPF 50$
30-60 lbsGray, Bright Pink, Blue, Orange, Purple
Includes both UVA and UVB protection
SwimSchool Swim Trainer Vest$
20-50 lbsBlue, OrangeOffers UV protection with a comfortable fabric, Heavy-duty zipper stays in place
Splash About Collections Float Suit$
20-55 lbsGray, Bright Pink, Blue, OrangeUV protection of 50 with a comfortable, stretchy fabric that won’t tear or puncture
Splash About Happy Nappy Swimsuit$
20-37 lbsBlue, Pink, Light PinkRemovable floats for customization, Less restricted movement
Body Glove Paddle Pals Learn to Swim Life Jacket$
30-50 lbsBlue, Green, TurtleCoast Guard approved Type-III, Quick-release buckle design for easy on and off
Oceans7 US Coast Guard Approved, Child Life Jacket$
25-50 lbsPink, Berry, Blue, WhiteUSCG Approved, Three adjustable straps for a comfortable fit
Konfidence The Original Jacket$
55-66 lbsPink/Navy, Navy/Blue, Red
Independently tested for safety standards, Provides thermal protection
TRC Recreation Kids Super Soft USCG Vest$
30-90 lbsRed, Blue, Green, YellowCoast Guard approved, Highly durable material
Zerlar Floatation Swimsuits with Adjustable Buoyancy$
20-33 lbsRed, Green, Red Rose, YellowDurable and puncture-resistant, Fully tested for quality and safety
Puddle Jumper Kids 2-in-1 Life Jacket and Rash Guard$
33-55 lbsBlue, Pink, Light Pink
Built-in Rash guard offers UPF 50+ sun protection to block 93% of UVA and UVB rays

Choosing the Right Child Float Suit

Your child will need to have a safety device around water to stay safe and gain swimming confidence. Getting the right suit and the right fit is challenging, but it’s worth it to know that your child will be taken care of if the unthinkable happens.

You may not need a fully approved Coast Guard vest for a place like the pool, but you’ll always need to supervise your child while in the water. No vest is foolproof, and your children will need to learn good habits from you while in the water.

Take the time to find the right floater suit for your purposes and get the fit just right. The benefits of having a well-performing child’s float suit are worth all the effort of finding the right one. Get back to enjoying your child around the water and stop worrying that the worst will happen. You’ll be able to take a few deep breaths and enjoy what’s happening.

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