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Traveling with kids
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Don’t try on infant life jackets, just buy one.

We wanted to get an infant life jacket to take Wyeth in the water. Something so that if we dropped him off the dock or off a boat he would mostly float. The one thing we knew we needed was a flap of foam behind the head (it is supposed to help the head float facing up) and a strap on the top of that so that he can be plucked out of the water as needed. He loves the water, so maybe he could ignore the jacket and enjoy?

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Try 1. Life jacket = screams

We went to a local West Marine and decided to check out all the life jacket options.  There were probably about 6 different types in the life jacket aisle, from Dora the Explorer to the generic specials. We took him out of the stroller and tried on every single one, hoping to find something that would work. He screamed and yelled. Every single time. In hindsight, I am not really sure what we were expecting — we were strapping him up in 3-inch-thick foam, sitting him on the floor, where he would look up dazed for one second with his arms straight out to the side, attempt to crawl and then topple over backwards and roll to his side, at which point all he could do was flail his limbs and let us know how he felt.  And let us know he did. I think he let every person in the aisle, store, parking lot and town know that he was not a fan of this shopping trip.

Hoping that one of these large foam straight jackets would be better than the rest (less screaming and flailing?) we just had to try them all on.  More or less the same result every time. We gave up and I had to carry him around the store for a while to ‘cool off’.   There was a cool neoprene water skiing life jacket on the other side of the store but we didn’t even try it.  I was wondering why it didn’t come with water skis and if he would actually be able to water ski if he couldn’t even stand up.  I’m glad we don’t have a super advanced kid who wanted to go water skiing before the age of 1 because that life jacket cost about $75 more then the regular ones.

After 45 minutes of strapping him into life jackets, screaming, pacing around the store to cool him off, we were ready to make our decision.  Aggh, let’s just get the cheapest, thinnest one and be on our way!

Done.

Try 1.  Going swimming wearing this thing is not much better than trying them on in the store.  Scream away, pause look at the water and the swimming dog, remember that he is still strapped in the life jacket and scream away, look at water, scream, repeat until the life jacket is off 5 minutes later.  See picture above.

Try 2. Trick him at the local pool where he is able to crawl in himself and get him to wear the jacket for a bit in the water. Maybe he’s a big bigger?

Try 3.  A month later and things have actually gotten better.  We were able to take him in the water swimming off the end of the dock and I took him out in a little fat kayak.  It really was a pleasant surprise, no screams and maybe even a hint of enjoyment.  We were on the water maybe 10-15 minutes, nothing major but maybe… Overnight kayaking trips anyone? Mom?

Kayaking with kid

Kayaking with kid

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1 Comment

  1. I’m definitely getting one for my daughter too. I took her boat riding once and I was so uncomfortable about her being “unprotected” on the water. It felt like letting her ride in a car without a car seat.

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