Children and lifejackets

Know the rules for when children and babies must wear a lifejacket and find out how to choose the right one.

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Approved lifejackets

It's strongly recommended that children wear a lifejacket at all times on the water.

Lifejackets must be an approved type that meets Australian standards:

The rules about when children must wear a lifejacket depend on their age.

Children aged under 12 years

Children aged under 12 years must wear a lifejacket:

  • on all vessels up to 4.8m long at all times
  • in open areas of all vessels up to 8m long when the vessel is underway.

When choosing a lifejacket, make sure it fits well and the child cannot slip out of it. A lifejacket with a crotch strap is recommended.

Some sports and department stores sell 'swim vests' designed for children learning to swim under supervision. These vests are not an approved type of lifejacket as they do not offer the same level of protection.

Inflatable lifejackets are not recommended for children aged under 12 years. If a child is wearing an auto-inflating lifejacket when playing, the lifejacket may inflate if it gets wet. If they're wearing a manual inflating lifejacket, they may forget how to activate it in an emergency.


Babies must wear an approved lifejacket suitable for their weight. It must fit snugly and securely so the baby cannot slip out of it.

Some babies are too small for even the smallest lifejackets. In this case, it's better not to take them on the water. If you have to do this, an adult wearing a lifejacket must hold the baby at all times.

Children aged under 12 years in vessels up to 4.8m long must wear lifejackets at all times.

Children aged 12 years or over

Children aged 12 years or over must follow the same rules for wearing a lifejacket as adults, although it's strongly recommended that they wear one at all times.

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