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Where to Buy Life Vests for Kids
We're planning to take a sailing trip on SF Bay with some friends who own a large sail boat (they live aboard). I'm wondering where I can rent (I'd love to borrow one) a life jacket for my two year old - she's average size. I know they make special jackets for that age - straps around the legs, head support, etc., but I'm just not sure where to get one. We'll only be making a few trips so I don't want to buy one. Jane
The SF Bay has some very choppy water. If your hosts are really going to take you out for a sailing experience, you might want to visit your pediatrician beforehand for some medicine to prevent motion sickness. The bobbing up and down motion can be pretty harsh on anyone not used to sailing. Most of the medications will make you a little groggy for a little while, but it wears off. There is also the patches for adults. I realize a lot of people don't like to give their kids any kind of medication, but sometimes it's the lesser of two evils and it really will make a difference as to whether your child (and you) have a good experience or not. The important thing is you want them to be able to enjoy the trip instead of spending the afternoon throwing up. The wind and the salt water in their face should be more than enough to keep the drowsiness down to a minimum. If you're just going to spend time on the boat anchored somewhere, you may be fine without medication. Marianne
You can purchase vests at most sporting good stores, at boating stores, and at Walmart and Kmart. The price range varies greatly, as with any other product. My husband works at West Marine which is a boating supply store with several Bay Area locations. Here is the advice he gives parents on purchasing a life vest for a small child.
1) Don't buy a life vest without trying it on the child. They are sized according to chest measurement and weight. To ensure a good fit, make sure your child can sit down in it with out the vest riding up to see if is too long.
2) All children's vests (meaning young children under 2 or 3) should have a head and neck support and also have a crotch strap so the kid doesn't slide out the bottom. He also recommends buying one with a handle on the back so you can pluck them from the water.
3) Mustang is his favorite brand because the head rest forms a "V" so the child's head stays in the middle. The other brands usually have a head rest that is simply a flat piece of foam and the child's head can loll to the side. As far as toys go... last summer we found a toy boat with a canopy for our son. I think it said it was safe for children from 6 mos. to 3 or 4 yrs. Basically the child sits in the boat which floats, and you push it around. We only used it in a pool. I probably wouldn't use it in the ocean because of the waves.
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