All kids, regardless of their gender, need essentially the same things from a bathing suit: comfort, protection from the sun, and a garment that won’t get in the way as they dig, splash, swim, and otherwise mess around. But few kids bathing suits, particularly those made for girls, deliver on all these fronts. Too often, girls’ suits look like scaled-down versions of women’s bathing suits, designed to highlight body parts that don’t exist.
Setting aside the weirdness of that, these kinds of bathing suits are just plain impractical. (What parent wants to spread sunblock across a complicated lattice of strings or cut-outs? Why put a skimpy bikini bottom over a diaper?) They ride up or fall down, limit mobility, allow sand into unfavorable places, and provide little to no sun protection. Boys’ suits tend to be better suited for playing, but can be annoyingly long and baggy, and come in a narrow variety of hyper-masculine colors and patterns.
The best kids bathing suits fall somewhere in the middle, providing coverage, comfort, and sun protection in prints that are universally loved and easily passed down from one kid to another, regardless of where they are on the gender spectrum. As a plus, many have ratings of 50 UPF, or ultraviolet protection factor. (Most clothing provides some level of protection against the sun, but as Cleveland Clinic dermatologist Dr. Alok Vij has said, clothing with a 50 UPF rating provides 10 times as much sun protection as the average shirt.) When kids wear one of these suits, they’re free to run around the beach without having to think about what they’re wearing.
Best Kids Bathing Suit Bottoms
Best Kids Bathing Suit Tops
Best Bathing Suits for Babies
Every product on Fatherly is independently selected by our editors, writers, and experts. If you click a link on our site and buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission.
This article was originally published on