7 Best Places To Buy Life Jackets For Young Kids

It’s almost summertime, and that means it’s time for swimming! But before you take the plunge, make sure your kids are safe with a life jacket.

If you’re a new parent, you may be confused about choosing the best place to buy life jackets that are USCG-approved, inexpensive and durable.

Here are seven of the best life jacket retailers, as well as their pros and cons.

Once you get to the store, you’ll need to know which life jacket to choose. Be sure to scroll to the very bottom of this article, where I provide tips on choosing the safest life jacket for your child. I’ll tell you how to test your life jacket for buoyancy, size and type.

1. Amazon

One of the best places to buy a life jacket for your child is Amazon. They have a wide selection of recreational life jackets for all different ages, sizes, and budgets.

All of the life jackets sold on Amazon are required to meet strict Coast Guard standards. This means that you can be confident that the life jacket you purchase will keep your child safe in the water.

Plus, you can read customer reviews to see what other parents think of the product before you buy it.

This is a great way to make sure you’re getting a high-quality life jacket that will keep your child safe in the water.


  • Huge selection of life vests to choose from
  • Same-day delivery for Amazon Prime customers
  • The convenience of online shopping
  • Meets strict safety standards
  • Inexpensive
  • Can read customer reviews before purchasing


  • Can’t see the jacket before purchasing

(Related: Best Life Jackets For Kids).

2. Walmart

If you want to see a life vest before purchasing it, go to Walmart. With 4800 Walmarts across the United States of America, there’s probably one a very short drive from you.

Walmart clearance markdowns typically happen during the first five days of each month, and you’ll be able to get a good deal if you time your shopping trip nicely.

Pro Tip: life jacket reviews are posted on the Walmart website, which makes it easy to do your research before you drive to the store.


  • Life jackets are available at a variety of prices
  • Life jackets for waters sports, boating, paddling and leisure
  • You can try on the life jacket before you buy it
  • Hundreds of Walmart stores across the United States


  • The life jacket selection at Walmart may be limited, depending on the time of year

(Related: Best Life Jackets For Toddlers).

3. Target

Don’t like going to Walmart? I get it. It doesn’t exactly represent the pinnacle of the shopping experience.

In contrast, Target offers a more friendly atmosphere without compromising on rock-bottom prices.

You can get USCG-approved life jackets and life vests while listening to the least bad supermarket background music. Seriously, Target’s music is not at all terrible.


  • You can purchase a kids’ life jacket starting at just $15.99
  • Free two-day shipping is available on many items
  • There are 1,850 Target stores across the United States for easy shopping.


  • The life jacket selection at Target may be limited, depending on the time of year
  • Some life jackets at Target are more expensive than those found at Walmart

(Related: Best Life Jackets For Infants).

4. Dick’s Sporting Goods

Dick’s started out as a bait and tackle shop, but today it carries a large assortment of water sports and outdoors-related gear and apparel, both online and in stores across the United States.

This makes Dick’s a great place to buy a life jacket for your child because you can find everything you need for a day at the lake or beach all in one place.


  • Can find everything you need for a day out on the water in one place
  • Product reviews are shared directly on their website.
  • Shipping charges are calculated by weight, and standard shipping time is typically 2-5 business days.


  • You may need to drive a little longer to find one

6. REI

REI is not a sports shop. It’s a shrine to the great outdoors, and as such, they have every conceivable item you could need to enjoy your time in nature.

This includes a wide variety of life jackets for both kids and adults. No matter what type of water activity you’re planning on doing, REI will have a life jacket that’s perfect for you.


  • Wide selection of life jackets for all types of activities
  • Helpful and knowledgeable staff
  • Great prices


  • Can be overwhelming to try and figure out what you need

7. Cabela’s

Cabela’s has retail stores in the USA and Canada. They have a wide selection of life jackets that are often on sale just before summer. Plus, Cabela’sClub members get free shipping on orders over $50.


  • Wide selection of life jackets
  • Inexpensive
  • Cabela’s Club members get free shipping on orders over $50.


  • Stores are not located in all states/provinces
  • Shipping can take longer than some other retailers

What Is The Safest Life Jacket For A Child?

Child safety is of utmost importance when it comes to choosing a life jacket.

There are many factors to consider when choosing a life jacket for a child, such as their weight and height, the type of water activity they’ll be participating in, and the environment they’ll be in.

When it comes to weight and height, it’s important to choose a life jacket that fits snugly and doesn’t leave any room for movement. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) has strict guidelines on what size life jacket a child needs, so be sure to check their website before making a purchase.

As for the type of water activity, some life jackets are better suited for certain activities than others.

For example, there are life jackets designed specifically for jet skiing or wakeboarding that have extra padding to protect the user from impact.

Finally, the environment is an important factor to consider. If you’re planning on taking your child out on a boat, it’s important to choose a life jacket that will keep them warm in case they fall overboard.

Are Puddle Jumpers Better Than Life Jackets?

Parents get confused about the differences between puddle jumpers and life jackets all the time.

Puddle jumpers are technically considered life jackets, but they’re not meant for use in open water or for any type of extended swimming.

Puddle jumpers are designed for use in pools and other enclosed bodies of water where there’s little to no risk of falling into deep water.

They typically have less buoyancy than traditional life jackets, and they don’t have any straps or other safety features that would keep a child’s head above water if they did fall into deep water.

So, are puddle jumpers better than life jackets? It depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re only planning on taking your child to the pool or other enclosed body of water, then a puddle jumper is a perfectly acceptable option.

However, if you’re planning on taking your child to the beach, lake, or river, it’s important to choose a life jacket that will keep them safe in case they do fall into deep water.

Do Life Jackets Help Kids Learn To Swim?

Teaching your kid to swim can be a lengthy process. You might think that since they’re wearing a life jacket, it’ll speed up the learning process. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Life jackets are designed for safety, not for swimming.

They’re meant to keep your child afloat in case of an accident, but they won’t help them learn how to swim. In fact, some life jackets can actually hinder the learning process because they give the child a false sense of security.

If you’re teaching your child to swim, it’s important to remove the life jacket and have them swim without it. This will help them learn how to properly use their arms and legs, and it’ll give you a chance to see how well they’re progressing.

Of course, you should always supervise your child when they’re in the water, regardless of whether or not they’re wearing a life jacket.

All the best,

William Whycos