Instead of dunking your baby (or toddler) in a vat of expensive sunscreen every time you go into the sun, a much easier option is to cover them up. This type of sun protective clothing (rompers, rashguards, board shorts) wasn’t really available when we were tots, but now they’re the norm for protecting kids from UV rays.
Sun protective clothing uses the UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) scale for sun protection, and you want to choose clothing that is UPF 30 or higher (meaning one-thirtieth of more of the UV radiation can go through the fabric and reach the skin).
There are a variety of good brands at various price points. Serious swimmers and beach goers should look into higher quality gear, like Coolibar, NoZone, Roxy, and Snapper Rock, while casual swimmers can get away with budget offerings from Target, Walmart, etc. — iPlay is somewhere in the middle.
Rompers (One-Piece UPF Suits)
The best coverage against UV rays, sunburn and skin cancers is provided by a full-length romper, like the one to the left made by Snapper Rock. On sunny days, I would put this romper on Alice, smear some sunscreen on the back of her hands and face, stick a sun bonnet on her head, and she’s good to go all day long. I don’t worry about her getting burned (and she is as fair as they come).
iPlay one piece sunsuit ~ $13-$30
This popular romper from iPlay zips in the front and snaps at the bottom for easy diaper changes.
This highly rated, heavy-use romper fits extremely well, has a front zipper closure, a fully-opening diaper zipper, and is highly chlorine and salt resistant. Hardcore beach goers swear by this one and the long sleeves mean less sunscreen is required.
These adorable UPF50+ sunsuits come in all sorts of cute styles, and have a zipper down the front to make for super easy diaper changes (an awesome feature that all baby sunsuits and rompers should have, IMO). The fabric is chlorine-resistant, soft and fast-drying.
Rash Guards and UV Resistant Shirts
It’s a maaaajor pain in the arse to apply sunscreen to baby’s neck, shoulders, and back, especially if they’re already dressed (so many straps in the way for baby girls – geh!). When it comes to choosing swimsuits and swim tops, you want them to cover as much skin as possible (baby BIKINIS, please be kidding?). These days, many swimsuits come WITH a rashguard as the top, which is smart and practical.
Rashguards come in long-sleeved and short-sleeved versions. The long-sleeved ones offer better coverage (obviously), but the short-sleeved ones are easier to get on and off when wet (less friction). RuffleButts also offers a rashguard that snaps at the bottom like a onesie (below).
Target makes super cute rash guards in all styles; onsie, long sleeve, short sleeve – and of course matching prints and everything color coordinates. Oh Target, we can’t quit you!
iPlay Rashguards ~ $19
iPlay has a large selection of both short-sleeved, long-sleeved, and swimsuit/rashguard combos in a variety of colors. I have a drawer-full of iPlay rashguards to get us through the summer, especially for our Florida trips.
Roxy Rashguards~ $25+
I will tell you my favorite kids rashguard (for kids 2+) is from Roxy. We’ve used them all, and these are the only ones that last after heavy use year after year (iPlay rashguards do not last more than one season, I am sorry to say).
Boden Rash Guards ~ $36+
We love Boden swimwear for little ones, and their rash guards are no exception. The prints are playful and colorful and the fabric is substantial. Plus, it has a UPF 40+ protection. Their rash guards run from size 2-3y to 12-14y. Check out their girls and boys options.
Bucket Hats for Children
Let us not forget about the most essential item, ye old sun hat — especially if babe doesn’t yet have a full head of hair to protect his/her precious little scalp from nasty UV rays. The challenge with hats is keeping them ON your baby’s head.
Personally, I have the best luck with hats that tie under the chin, but if your baby doesn’t have a gold medal in hat-swatting, you’ll have luck with any hat.
iPlay Solid Brim Sun Hat ~ $14
This favorite sun hat has a wide brim and ties under the chin. Comes in tons of colors. Perfect!
Baby Banz Reversible Bucket Hat ~ $6-$22
This highly-rated reversible hat is super cute and functional (very cute patterns for boys too!).
We rounded up our Lucie’s List editor favorite baby, toddler and kids sunglasses. They are not only cute and fashionable but they meet our stringent safety, quality and highest sun protection qualifications. Check out what our kiddos are wearing!
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Next in the Summer Series