This is our second year using Stearn's Puddle Jumper life vests, and high time I wrote a little review on them. If you are not familiar with these life jackets, they are sort of a cross between a life jacket and water wings. I used old fashioned water wings with Miss K from about age 2, and thought that they worked really well (despite later hearing some warnings about them not being safe). I remember using them as a child, so perhaps there was some nostalgia involved, as well. In any case, I liked them (and still do!) and found that they provided enough buoyancy to keep Miss K above water, but not so much that she would just bob around like a cork. The water wings also didn't inhibit movement like a full life jacket did; I bought a life vest for her at one point and she refused to wear it and said it was too tight. I understand parents want to keep their kids safe, but I received a Puddle Jumper as a sample last year, just as 3 year old Miss K was taking off her water wings and swimming a few strokes unassisted. At first I was a little disappointed because I had been so excited about her swimming with no floatation device, and once she tried the Puddle Jumper, she ONLY wanted to swim with the Puddle Jumper. Well, I have to say that this PFD has grown on me a lot since last year- so much that I ended up getting a second one for Miss H, and she loves it just as much. You get the best of both water wings and a life jacket. They are sturdy (we have lost a couple of inflatable wings to children biting through them), comfortable, and cute. I like that the Puddle Jumper is short in the front and open in the back (except for the strap and buckle) and therefore much less restricting than a full life vest, yet is still categorized as a ood for general boating in calm, inland waters, or where there is a good chance for fast rescue). The Puddle Jumper comes in one size and fits 30- 50 lbs.
(I don't recommend this, but we use these vests- with very close supervision- slightly under the minimum weight; Miss H is not yet 30 lbs. and is able to slip out of her Puddle Jumper when she is on the dock.)
You can pick up Stearns Puddle Jumpers for around $20 on Amazon, and they qualify for free Amazon Prime Shipping with your Amazon Mom account! (I LOVE Amazon Mom- I've got free Prime shipping for the next year!! Have you signed up yet!?)