Sun Protective Clothing for Kids: Cute Parent-Tested Picks

Wallaroo Crocodile Hat
Courtesy of Wallaroo Hats
Don't just rely on sunscreen alone! Check out our top picks for sun protective swimsuits, shirts, and accessories to provide the extra coverage your kids need to stay safe outside this summer.
Elena Sherengovskaya/Shutterstock
Elena Sherengovskaya/Shutterstock

The Importance of Protective Clothing

“Protective clothing can be even more effective than sunscreen,” says Samantha Conrad, M.D., a dermatologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, in Chicago. “If you see dermatologists and their families on vacation, they are under an umbrella, wearing long sleeves and a hat.” Follow their lead and you’ll need to put sunscreen just on exposed skin before you send your kids off to play in the sprinklers. Sun apparel is labeled with a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) indicating the amount of UV rays that can penetrate the fabric. For instance, a UPF50 shirt allows just1/50 o fUV radiation to reach the skin. Instead of dressing your squad in regular T-shirts—which offer a UPF of 5, allowing1/5 of the sun’s UV through even when wet—go undercover with these adorable swimsuits and accessories

One Step Ahead Sun Smarties Boy's Swim Trunks

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.

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 itchy liners in other shorts." - Suzy M.

L.L. Bean BeanSport Swim Gear

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.

Parent Feedback: "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.

RELATEDThe Best Baby Sunscreens

L.L. Bean BeanSport Long Sleeve Surf Shirt

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 sizes from 3 months to 4T.

Parent Feedback: "The soft material added to his enjoyment of swimming and playing." - Melissa B.

Courtesy of Mott50
Courtesy of Mott50

Mott50 Mini Swimsuit

Long-sleeved and UPF 50, the Mott50 Mini swimsuit has a back zipper for easy on and off, thumbholes for hand protection, and a slew of adorable patterns—many with matching designs in Mom’s size. Chrissy Teigen’s a fan!

One Step Ahead Sun Smarties Baby Rash Guard-Style Swimsuit

Keep your water baby fully protected where she needs it most with this long-sleeved swimsuit. It provides extra coverage for baby's arms, neck, and back. Plus, the super soft nylon/elastane fabric dries fast, resists fading and chlorine, and has UPF 50+ for additional sun protection. Available in multiple prints, from 12 months to 3T.

Parent Feedback: "This product exceeded my expectations. 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.

UV Skinz Sun & Swim Shirt

UV Skinz’s Sun & Swim Shirt has coordinating board shorts for the ultimate stay-safe combo. The shirt’s high collar protects the neck.

Courtesy of Sun Precautions
Courtesy of Sun Precautions

The Solumbra by Sun Precautions Toddler Swimsuit

The Solumbra by Sun Precautions Toddler Swimsuit protects tots from neck to ankle with just one zip. Samantha Conrad, M.D., a dermatologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, loves that it’s 100+ SPF.

Babiators Sunglasses

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).

Sun tip: 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.

Real Kids Shades Unbreakable Explorer Sunglasses

Kids are tough on their stuff, so sunglasses need to be able to take a beating. These are shatterproof, impact-resistant, waterproof, and rustproof – and a flex-fit headband also makes them comfortable to wear and stay in place.

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.

Courtesy of Wallaroo Hats
Courtesy of Wallaroo Hats

Wallaroo Crocodile Hat

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.

Sun tip: 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.

RELATED: How to Protect Baby's Skin in the Summer

Courtesy of Coolibar
Courtesy of Coolibar

Coolibar Kid’s Surfs Up All Sport Hat UPF 50+

Every inch of brim slashes your lifetime skin-cancer risk by 10 percent, says Darrell S. Rigel, M.D., clinical professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Health, in New York City. Coolibar Kid’s Surfs Up All Sport Hat UPF 50+ combines a 3-inch front brim with a draped neck guard.

Courtesy of Coolibar
Courtesy of Coolibar

Coolibar Sun Blanket

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.

Sun tip: 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.

RELATED: These Are the Worst Sunscreens of 2018 for Babies and Kids, Says EWG

Coolibar Swim Sun Sleeves

Swim sleeves made from Coolibar's chlorine- and saltwater-resistant aqua SUNTECT fabric offer full arm sun protection when it gets difficult to keep kids covered in sunscreen. Available in six colors and three sizes for kids up to 14 years.

Sun tip: 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.

Courtesy of Baby Banz
Courtesy of Baby Banz

Baby Banz Beach Kickers UV Swim Shoes

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.

Sun tip: 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.

RELATED: The Ultimate Sun Protection Guide for Pregnancy

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