Life Jackets To Keep Your Child with Disabilities Safe Near Water

This article is written by Gert Mikkal. All content provided is for informational purposes only. Always adapt and apply suggestions based on your child’s needs.

Children generally love to spend time near water. It doesn’t matter if your family likes to go boating or have fun on the beach–it’s the job of all parents to keep their children safe during these special moments.

Parents raising children with disabilities have to overcome some unique issues when it comes to beach safety. The best way to keep your child safe is to buy a life jacket.

Life Jacket Vs. Flotation Aid

A proper life jacket is intended to turn the wearer face up (even when he or she is unconscious). A flotation aid is simply something that helps people to float.

The U.S Coast Guard (USCG) divided personal floating devices into three types and only Type I was strictly speaking a life jacket. At the moment of writing the USCG is updating the system though. It means that you’ll probably not find a reference to these types on newer life jackets.

Things To Consider

If you’re raising a child with special needs, there are unique considerations to make”

Movement Disorders

Children may have weak muscles, poor coordination or tremors, so they aren’t really capable of moving in the water. They may also have stiff muscles in which case you may not be able to use regular life jackets.

Behavior Problems

Children with disabilities may have repetitive behavior patterns and problems with communication. As a result, you may not be able to explain to your child why he has to wear a life jacket. Alternatively, she may want to open and close the buckles repetitively.

Intellectual Disability

It may be impossible to explain to the child why he or she has to wear a life jacket. Although he may run around, she may not understand the dangers of water.

What Should You Buy For Your Child?

It’s easiest to discuss this topic by considering the age of the child because older children are stronger and usually cognitively more developed.

Babies and Toddlers

All babies need our constant supervision, so most experts agree that near-shore buoyant vests are safe enough for them. These aren’t as bulky as proper life jackets, but they usually turn the wearer face up. They also have all the required safety features like a crotch strap and a grab strap.

You can find a guide on best infant life jackets on

Most of the reviewed vests offer suitable sizes for toddlers too.

Preschoolers and Older Children

If your child has movement disorders, then you may want to consider a proper life jacket which always turns the wearer face up. This would allow your child to enjoy water activities in the pool or open water. These vests also make it more comfortable for you to move him or her in the water.

Proper life jackets are also great for older children with behavior problems. They may not understand all the dangers, but at least they are safely turned face up if they happen to fall in the water.

Children who have stiff muscles may not be able to use regular life jackets though. In this case, you may want to look for alternatives like Cerebral Palsy Square Float, Sectional Raft, Dolphin Float System, or Lifejacket-Adapted products.

These unique life jackets are also worth checking out if your child does physical therapy in the water. For example, Lifejacket-Adapted products are specially designed for this.

About the Author

Gert Mikkal a medical doctor licensed to drive small boats, so writing about maritime safety comes naturally to him. Thanks to lack of time, he has managed to make use of his license precisely zero times. After the birth of his child, he created, so the boating hobby just has to wait!

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