Sun Protection Clothes for Kids

Don't just rely on sunscreen alone for sun protection! Check out our top picks for swimsuits, shirts, and accessories to provide the extra coverage your kids need to stay safe in the sun.

Everything in this slideshow

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Courtesy of One Step Ahead

One Step Ahead Sun Smarties Boy's Swim Trunks

Sun Smart: Your little swimmer will be protected inside and out with these sea-colored swim trunks. The outside has UPF 50+ to provide sun protection in the surf and sun; the inside has a built-in swim diaper. So splash away! Available in three styles, from 12 months to 5T.

Side Note: To order the correct size, check out the fit notes for the style you like. Some patterns have a looser fit than others.

Parent Feedback: "I love the soft fabric and how the elastic waistband is significant enough to keep the shorts on -- even on my very lanky son. The liner is also soft, which is nice, since my son has been bothered by it liners in other shorts." - Suzy M.

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Courtesy of REI

REI Water Skort (Infant/Toddler)

Sun Smart: Don't skimp on style with this sweet ruffled water skort. It offers UPF 50+ protection, a comfortable, quick-drying nylon/spandex fabric, and an elastic waistband to prevent diaper droop. Available in three styles, from six months to 4T.

Side Note: For a complete look, consider pairing the skort with REI's coordinating Suncatcher short-sleeved ($26.50-$32.50) or long-sleeved ($29.50-$39.50) a guards.

Parent Feedback: "The skort fits perfectly and looks adorable. I also love that it fits over my baby's cloth swim diaper." - Stacey B.

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Courtesy of L. L. Bean

L.L. Bean BeanSport Swim Gear

Sun Smart: With sleek sharks and modern dots, bright florals and simple solids, L.L. Bean's line of BeanSport swim gear offers a collection of colorful separates for boys and girls to put together the perfect beach ensemble. There are board shorts and rash guards, halter tops and Y-backs, so you can choose a style and pattern that matches your water-lover. Regardless of the style, you get UPF 50+ protection as well as chlorine-resistant fabric that will last beyond summer.

Side Note: Maintain the built-in UPF protection by machine-washing these pieces in cold water when needed and letting them air-dry.

Parent Feedback: (Halter top paired with Side-tie bottom) "The bathing suit feels very well-made, with a sporty fit and good bottom coverage. The halter top is a narrow cut, so it did not ride up when my daughter was swimming. She is a petite 4-year-old and the 4T fit her snugly, so the overall fit did run on the small side." - Alisa H.

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Courtesy of Sunday Afternoons

Sunday Afternoons Long Sleeve Swim Shirt

Sun Smart: The four-way stretch of this nylon/Lycra swim shirt will let your child swim, dig, splash, and dive all summer long. Along with its long sleeves and mock turtleneck, the UPF 50+ breathable fabric provides excellent sun protection that's also quick-drying and chlorine-resistant. Available for boys and girls in sizes 6 months to child's Large.

Side Note: Keep the whole family protected with long-sleeved swim shirts for men and women ($22).

Parent Feedback: "I like the soft feel of the fabric and that it's easy to get on and off my 5-year-old. My son usually wears a rash guard, which can be difficult to pull on and off and causes him to sweat. He liked this shirt better because it was lighter and more breathable. The fit is slimmer than most of the sun-protection shirts we've tried, which makes it a more stylish look." - Mandy M.

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Courtesy of One Step Ahead

One Step Ahead Sun Smarties Baby Rash Guard-Style Swimsuit

Sun Smart: Keep your water baby fully protected where she needs it most with this long-sleeved romper-style swimsuit. It provides extra coverage for baby's arms, neck, and back, and the overlapping neckline makes wearing it a breeze. Plus, the super soft nylon/elastane fabric dries fast, resists fading and chlorine, and has UPF 50+ for additional sun protection. Available in two prints, from 6 months to 24 months.

Side Note: You'll need to use a swim diaper. Try One Step Ahead's reusable Sun Smarties Basic Swim Diaper ($10.95) to keep accidents contained.

Parent Feedback: "This product exceeded my expectations. It has a very cute fish print and my 24-month-old daughter was excited to wear it and she seemed very comfortable. After a day in the sun, she did get some color on her legs (even with sunscreen), but the areas (without sunscreen) covered by the suit did not color." - Alisa H.

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Courtesy of L.L. Bean

L.L. Bean BeanSport Long Sleeve Surf Shirt

Sun Smart: Between sand, surf, or getting in and out of the swimming pool, it's hard to keep an adequate supply of sunscreen on your little swimmer. This unisex long-sleeved rash guard keeps your sunscreen reapplication to a minimum while providing UPF 50+ protection for your tot's torso and arms. The shirt's nylon/Lycra blend also provides warmth, durability, and flexibility. Available in three colors, in sizes from 3 months to 4T.

Side Note: If long sleeves bother your child, there are rash guards in short-sleeved boys' and girls' versions ($24.95).

Parent Feedback: "I liked the color and design, as did my son. And the soft material added to his enjoyment of swimming and playing." - Melissa B.

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Courtesy of Columbia

Columbia Bug Shield Long Sleeve Shirt

Sun Smart: In addition to UPF 50 protection, what sets this shirt apart is its distinctive, invisible, and odorless Insect Blocker technology integrated into the fabric to ward off bugs. It's EPA-approved and effective at keeping at bay any mosquitoes, flies, ticks, and other insects looking to take a nibble. Wherever your kid's adventures may take him, he can wear this for all-day exploring. Available in a variety of colors, from a kid's Small (7) to Large (16).

Side Note: The Insect Blocker technology is so tightly bound to the fabric that it maintains its effectiveness through 70 cold-water washings. Instructions say to wash the shirt separately from other clothes.

Parent Feedback: "The shirt had a nice slim fit and is super soft. I love that it's long-sleeved and my son didn't get hot and sweaty in it. He wore it to the park and we didn't notice any bugs near him. I'm not crazy about the fact that it must be washed separately and kept away from food, but overall we like the shirt." - Amy G.

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Courtesy of Sunday Afternoons

Sunday Afternoons Radiant Tee

Sun Smart: Perfect for layering over or under a T-shirt or being worn on its own, these tees offer year-round UPF 50+ sun protection. The shirts are also lightweight and breathable. Available in four colors, from 2T up to a child's Large.

Side Note: The lightweight fabric is a blend of S.Caf? (a fabric made from recycled coffee grounds) and microfiber, which makes these tees the perfect undercover solution if your child is resistant to wearing special "sun protection" shirts.

Parent Feedback: "I thought my son would be bothered by the thickness of this shirt, but the material is very soft. He lived in it for two days and said it's very comfortable. He loved it." - Melissa T.

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Courtesy of K&J Sun Protective Clothing

K&J Sun Protective Clothing Cotton Tees

Sun Smart: Mona Gohara, M.D., a dermatologist, style-lover, and mother of two created these 100-percent cotton graphic T-shirts with UPF 50+ protection. The shirts provide much-needed sun protection for kids and infants too young for sunscreen. Available in infant (0- to 24 months) and child (2T- to 6T) sizes, in a variety of fun styles and colors.

Side Note: These tees don't use any chemicals to block out the sun, but only rely on tightly woven, weighted cotton. They have also been rated by the International UV Testing Laboratories in Auburn, Alabama, as able to block out 98 percent to 99 percent of the sun's harmful rays.

Parent Feedback: "The material is thick and soft, and the shirt is well-constructed. It's also very durable for my active young child. Plus, my son loves the fun, whimsical 'Dig it!' design." - Ashley P.

Use coupon code "parents" for 20 percent off at K&J Sun Protective Clothing. Expires July 31, 2012.

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Courtesy of Wallaroo Hats

Wallaroo Crocodile Hat

Sun Smart: Kids are notorious for pulling hats off their heads, but this cleverly designed croc-bite hat will amuse them enough to keep on. The 100-percent cotton hat contains UPF 50+ protection and has a drawstring to secure it on. Available for ages 2 to 5 years, in pink and brown.

Side Note: In addition to looking adorable, the bite mark on the brim actually keeps the hat from flopping in a child's face.

Parent Feedback: "My little one kept this hat on all day and she didn't even want to take it off in the car on the way home! I love that the full brim gives complete face and neck coverage, and some shoulder coverage. The strap allows her to keep it on, even when the wind picks up. The material appears to be quite durable, and since it's adjustable, we might get a few years' wear out of it!" - Amy H.

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Courtesy of Solartex

Real Kids Shades Xtreme Sport Kids Sunglasses

Sun Smart: Kids are tough on their stuff, so sunglasses need to be able to take a beating. These are shatterproof, impact- resistant, waterproof, and rustproof; the foam padding, wrap-around design, and neoprene headband also makes them comfortable to wear and stay in place. Available in two sizes for 3- to-7-year-olds and 7-to-12-year-olds (polarized lenses).

Side Note: Why are only the glasses for older kids polarized? According to the manufacturer, "Polarization can distort your view, ever so slightly. It is most important that young children, especially those learning to walk, should not have any distortion through their sunglass lenses. We use category 3 polycarbonate lenses in most of our styles because we want the best clarity and protection for young children."

Parent Feedback: "I love the sporty look of these glasses work for any boy or girl, and my kids' eyes are protected from all harmful sun rays. The comfortable strap on these glasses is a major plus for bike riding and going on boat rides, so they won't get lost!" - Larissa N.

Use coupon code "parents15" to get 15 percent off at Solartex. Expires July 31, 2012.

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Courtesy of Uncommon Goods

Babiators Sunglasses

Sun Smart:Keep your little one's eyes (and style reputation) protected with these aviator sunglasses, developed by a U.S. Marine Corps pilot. Your child can channel his inner Tom Cruise as he sports these shatter-resistant, durable frame beauties that block both harmful UVA and UVB rays. Available in Junior (6 months to 3 years) and Classic (3+ years).

Side Note: These sunglasses are BPA-free, a bonus for younger children likely to put glasses in their mouth as much as over their eyes.

Parent Feedback: "My daughter grabbed them out of my hand as soon as I opened the box and loves wearing them. I love how durable they are; since the frame is flexible, they have stood up to all the bending and gnawing that babies like to inflict on sunglasses. And they don't slip off her little nose and ears." - Raya C.

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Courtesy of Coolibar

Coolibar Sun Blanket

Sun Smart: A blanket that goes above and beyond, this has the perfect stretchiness for swaddling, and Coolibar's unique ZnO SUNTECT fabric (a super soft cotton/bamboo/spandex blend) is ideal for snuggling. The built-in UPF 50+ ensures that your babe is protected from the sun, whether napping in the car seat or out in the stroller. Available in eight colors.

Side Note: The fabric is embedded with micro-particles of zinc oxide for exceptional comfort and built-in reliable protection from the sun.

Parent Feedback: "This is the perfect stroller blanket for summer -- lightweight and not bulky. It also works great as a sun cover over the car seat when the baby is sleeping." - Stacey B.

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Courtesy of Coolibar

Coolibar Swim Sun Sleeves

Sun Smart: Swim sleeves made from Coolibar's chlorine- and saltwater-resistant aqua SUNTECT fabric offers full arm sun protection when it gets difficult to keep kids covered in sunscreen. Available in eight colors and three sizes for kids 12 months to 14 years.

Side Note: These swim sleeves do not offer flotation assistance, only sun protection.

Parent Feedback: "The sleeves fit both my 5-year-old and 2-year-old, so I'll be able to get a few years' use out of them! It's so much easier to slip on these sleeves than to slather sunscreen on my kids' arms. With this product, I can turn any swimsuit/short-sleeved rash guard into a long-sleeved rash guard! The sleeves stayed on and provided sun protection for my daughter's arms after an afternoon of playing in sprinklers and shooting water guns." - Larissa N.

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Courtesy of Baby Banz

Baby Banz Beach Kickers UV Swim Shoes

Sun Smart: Whether your tot is being buried in the sand or jumping over waves, her toes are also at risk for sun damage. These swim shoes offer UPF 50+ protection and their high-traction soles guard against rough pool bottoms, rocky beaches, and hot sand. Available in two colors and in sizes to fit kids from 9 months to 3 years.

Side Note: Baby Banz was started in Australia by people who take UV protection seriously because the country, according to Australia's National Bureau of Meteorology, has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.

Parent Feedback: "The flexible soles made these shoes super comfortable for my 20-month-old to wear, and his feet were protected all day at the beach. I was worried that a shoe like this would be hard to get on his foot, but the wide opening and stretchiness of the neoprene made it simple to slip his foot in." - Greg B.

Copyright © 2012 Meredith Corporation.

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