If you’re taking your baby to the pool or the beach, your baby needs sun protection. And it needs to become so routine, you don’t ever need a reminder to put on sunscreen or dress your child in sun protective clothing, also known as SFP clothing, with a UPF rating of 50. If you’re sick of trying to rub sunscreen on squirming, whining children, SPF clothing and baby sun hats will save your sanity and your kid’s skin.
“Protecting a baby from the sun should be done prior to any sun exposure so that it becomes part of the routine, just like changing a wet diaper before bed,” says pediatrician Dr. Andy Bernstein.
“The most immediate consequence of not protecting a baby against the sun is painful sunburn,” says Bernstein, “but also, premature aging of the skin and skin cancer risk is affected by sun exposure over the lifetime — so even sun exposure to little ones increases their risk of cancer or other skin changes.”
In addition to sunscreen, two of the best ways to keep your baby safe in the sun are hats and full-body swimsuits. With help from Dr. Bernstein, here are the best pediatrician-approved sun hats, sun protective clothing, and sunscreens for babies. All the items on our list have a UPF 50 rating, as recommended by experts, and are easy to put on and take off because, well, babies.
The Best SPF Clothing for Babies
Your kid might not be quite thrilled with the idea, but putting him or her into a full-body swimsuit is a great way to protect your kid’s skin. “Infant swimsuits that offer sun protection will have an UPF rating, so make sure your baby swimsuits have one,” says Bernstein. “More protection with long sleeves and even pants can be very helpful.” Indeed, when shopping for a full-body swimsuit, you’ll want as much coverage as possible. Here are our picks.
A nice option if you're lucky enough to have a kid who can handle some sunscreen without squirming away. This set features a rash guard, paired with two-in-one swimsuit that has built-in reusable swim diaper.
It's a onesie, but with sun protection. And this one is easy to use: The back has a snap closure, as does the leg area, for quick diaper changes.
For absolute, complete coverage, you can't go wrong with this hooded swimsuit. It has a zip-front closure for easy on and off, and a snap close bottom for diaper changes. The Minnesota-based Coolibar has been making sun protective apparel for 20 years, so the brand has stood the test of time.
This hooded baby sunsuit is made from a soft bamboo knit blend, and provides UPF 50 protection. The attached hood on this swimsuit provides extra protection from the sun, and snap closures in the leg area simplify both diaper changes and clothing changes. The brand was founded by Rhonda R. Sparks, after her husband died from melanoma.
This swimsuit has both a zipper AND snap-close bottom for easy diaper changes, plus flat-lock seams to prevent chafing.
Two great things about this UPF 50 swimsuit: The front pockets, and the fact that it has an extra-long front zipper for diaper changes.
This swimsuit zips all the way down, so it makes diaper changes ... easier. Much, much easier.
A sweet rash guard, with a zipper for easier clothing changes, and a matching reusable swim diaper. What else do you need?
No more fights over wearing hats in the sun. This hooded sun suit solves the problem for you. It also has a snap close bottom for easy diaper access.
Snaps make diaper changes super-quick and easy, and the sweet design will make for memorable beach photos. This UPF swimsuit is a win-win. This suit is great for kids who like to have their legs free to splash around in the water.
Great for older kids who are potty-trained, this UPF 50 swimsuit has a zipper down the front and a timeless, colorful print.
The Best Baby Rash Guards
Listen, once they’re wet, rash guards are a major pain to get off because they stick to wet skin. So we found ones that were … less so. All the products on this list are UPF50.
So yeah, we dig that this rash guard is made from 80 percent recycled nylon. Equally awesome: The zipper, which makes taking off a sticky wet top just that much less of a headache.
It's a UPF 50+ rash guard with a full front zipper, so it's a swim jacket. Or a swacket?
So your kid hates zippers? Noted. This rash guard has pull on closure and flat lock seams, for easy on and off.
This bright, bold rash guard and swim shirt has a UPF rating of 50+, the highest in the UPF classification system. And it's made from recycled plastic bottles, so its graphic of clear blue seas is true to form.
The Best Baby Sun Hats
Protecting your baby’s head and eyes from the sun is the first step in making sure they’re ready for a splash. According to Bernstein, there’s really only one thing to look for in a protective hat for the baby: “It should have as wide a brim as the baby can tolerate,” he says, “covering not just the face like a baseball cap, but hopefully protection all around the head to protect the ears and the neck too.”
The iPlay brand is a leader in sun-safety clothing. This UPF 50 baby sun hat is made from breathable material that keeps him or her cool and comfortable, and we particularly love the foam brim that stays out of your baby's eyes when it's wet.
Not only is this hat UPF 50 protective, but it also has a fully adjustable head drawstring that will allow you to size up so you can use the hat for multiple seasons.
If you’re not a fan of the big-brim look, or just want to give the back of your kid’s neck a little extra coverage, this UPF 50 hat folds down to protect it all. A moisture-wicking fabric on the inside helps keep your baby's head comfortable and dry the entire trip.
A sweet, simple sun hat, with UPF 50 protection, and a chin strap with a breakaway buckle closure.
A skin cancer survivor and mom founded this brand, and her products are no joke. These hats have a large brim to shade the face, flaps that cover the ears and neck, and an elastic band to fit snuggly around the head.
Another option from Flap Happy, this one has an extra-wide brim design that keeps your baby's face, ears, and neck out of the sun. It's also very, very lightweight, which is a bonus for hat-eschewing tots.
The Best Sunglasses for Babies and Kids
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, kids 10 and younger can damage their eyes from exposure to UV rays. Thus, sunglasses are good choice. Make sure the ones you choose block 99-100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays, per the Skin Cancer Foundation, and that they use playground-proof lenses. This means the lenses are scratch-proof and won’t pop out of their frames when your kids are playing. Wraparound styles are great, for maximum protection.
This brand has been the gold standard in baby shades for years, and now, it's got an assortment of styles that are all cool. These have rubber frames as well as impact and shatter-resistant lenses, so they should last the summer. Or at least a month.
A great choice for the discerning infant, these specs are Wayfarers ... for smaller. The lenses are impact-resistant as well.
The strap keeps these sunglasses from getting lost or shifting around. The lenses reduce glare, and provide full UVA and UVB protection.
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