Sterns Kids Puddle Jumper Life Jackets Review

stearns puddle jumperToddlers and kids learn to swim faster with Coast Guard approved Puddle Jumper Life Jackets

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The puddle jumper design combines the security of “floaties” or “swimmie” arms with a floatation pad that goes across the chest and attaches to the floatation arms. They are fastened in the back with a secure clasp.

Our almost three year old daughter is practically doing laps in the pool this summer thanks to her Stearns Kids Puddle Jumper Life Jacket. It is one of the best ways for young kids and toddlers to quickly learn how to swim.

Because Puddle Jumper Jackets are Coast Guard approved, they are great for young kids learning to swim in the pool, on the lake, in the river or out on a boat.

Puddle Jumpers are definitely more comfortable in the water than a traditional life jacket for kids (according to my kids), so I am a big fan of them for use as a swimming aid (under supervision) while anchored out on the boat or swimming at your marina pool.

However, when you are cruising and underway I recommend using a regular toddler life jacket with a heads-up pillow and strap between the legs for a secure fit.

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Review of Stearns Puddle Jumper Life Jacket for Toddlers and Kids

The innovative design of the Puddle Jumper Life Jacket helps to lift kids’ chins out of the water and offers more stability than a regular life jacket or floatie arms. Regular life jackets tend to ride up and force kids to float onto their back more. The Puddle Jumper Jacket keeps kids leaning forward more, but with their chin out of the pool water.

kids puddle jumper life jacketsThe Puddle Jumper Jacket is perfect for 2-4 year olds (between 30-50 lbs) that are ready to learn how to swim in a pool, but just need a little extra confidence in the water. Because this design keeps chins out of the water and is so stable, kids quickly build confidence to begin swimming on their own. They also have a better range of motion swimming in the Puddle Jumper than in a regular life jacket.

We bought our Puddle Jumper Jacket last year when our daughter was almost 2 years old. She wasn’t quite ready to swim on her own with the jacket yet, but it was great  for her to float around while holding our hands and begin to learn to kick and move around in the water.

This year our daughter is almost 3 years old and within her second time in the pool with the Puddle Jumper she is swimming on her own wearing the jacket. I have been amazed to watch how excited she is to swim “all by herself”. The jacket is a huge confidence booster – which is so important when kids are learning how to swim.

The added bonus for us is the freedom to now swim alongside her… and not be constantly holding onto her in the pool! We’ve come a long way from the infant life jackets we used to have her in when she was a baby at the boat and pool.

Video Demo of Puddle Jumper

Here’s a quick video demo of our daughter swimming with her Stearns Puddle Jumper Life Jacket!

The red Puddle Jumper Jacket that we bought last year may no longer be available, but it comes in many other colors and cute styles that are appropriate for girls and boys.

In addition to the regular Puddle Jumper Jacket there is also a flotation bathing suit under the Puddle Jumper brand with the same floatie arms. When our daughter was old enough to step up to the suit (around 5) it was a nice swimming aid anchored out or in the pool.

I wrote this post because because people keep asking us about the Puddle Jumper Life Jacket – they are amazed to see an almost 3 year old swimming so well. And since I see many other kids her age at our marina and at public pools using the Puddle Jumper and are swimming just as well. As a mom, I highly recommend this product for any kid learning to swim!

>>Check out my Boater Life Boat Shop on Amazon for more Toddler Life Jacket options as well as my hand-picked selection of Toddler Life Jackets on!

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Diane Seltzer

View posts by Diane Seltzer
Diane is the founder of as well as the boating lifestyle site for kids Active in the boating industry, Diane has also led the marketing for multiple recreational boating businesses and startups.


  1. Adam NagyNovember 12, 2014

    Great review on the Puddle Jumper. The CDC recommends only using USCG approved life jackets. In addition, many community swimming pools don’t allow traditional air filled water wings. The Puddle Jumper is a great alternative for those families who used to use water wings.

  2. AnonymousJuly 9, 2010

    very cute. your little girl swims very well in that puddle jumper jacket!

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