Summer Series Part 3: Updated July 2018
A follow-up to Part 2: Best Swim Diapers
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 him up. This type of sun protective clothing (rompers, rashguards, board shorts) wasn’t really available when we were tots, but now they’re becoming the norm for protecting kids from the sun.
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.
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.
Take note, these are all supposed to fit pretty snugly. If they’re too big, they’ll sag, won’t dry as quickly, and will make your babe cold while out of the water.
Rompers (One-Piece Sun Suits)
The best coverage 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).
The UPF 50 rompers available at Target do the trick. The short-sleeeved ones are easy to get on and off, but do require sunscreen on the forearms. *Also available in a boys print.
iPlay one piece sunsuit ~ $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.
Sun Shirts (aka “Rashguards”)
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). One Step Ahead also offers a rashguard that snaps at the bottom like a onesie (below).
Did you know? Rashguards are called so because they protect surfers from chafing from their surfboards.
Target Rashguards ~ $8+
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).
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. 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 ~ $12
This favorite sun hat has a wide brim and ties under the chin. Comes in tons of colors. Perfect!
This highly-rated reversible hat is super cute and functional (very cute patterns for boys too!).
For girls, the Millymook Vintage Reversible Sun Hat ~ $25
This one has a removable chin strap for secure fit and crushes down for travel. This one is really adorable and actually stays on.
Sunglasses for a baby? Exsqueeze me?
Eye doctors and dermatologists say yes. The practical answer is, “If your child tolerates it.”
Families who spend a lot of time in the sun or live clos[er] to the equator should definitely look into it. Sunglasses also help keep direct sun out of baby’s eyes in the car, especially when you lose the sunshade upon graduating to a convertible car seat (and it seems like NO MATTER WHICH DIRECTION you’re driving, the sun is ALWAYS in your kid’s eyes!).
Experts recommend smaller versions of real, protective adult sunglasses, NOT toy sunglasses. Look for glasses that block 99-100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays. Find impact-resistant, scratch-proof lenses that don’t pop out of the frames, blah blah blah.
For babies 6+ months, Baby BanZ has a strap that goes around the head to ensure they stay in place and seem to be tolerated well by most babes. These are polarized and have a UV 400 rating for 100% UVA/UVB protection. *Also, available in pink.
*Check out their over-sized sunglasses for a babies who need more glamour.
Babiators ~ $20
These cute and highly rated kiddie sunglasses offer 100% UVA/UVB protection, are impact/shatter-resistant, and will be replaced if lost or damaged within the first year – sweet! Fit-wise, they come in various sizes for toddlers, older kids, etc. My kids love them (below).
Julbo Sunglasses ~ $35
Julbo, a 125-year-old company known for their adult eyewear for ultra-sports, has an award-winning children’s line as well. The lenses are shatterproof and block 100% of UVA/UVB rays.
I (Melissa) received a pair upon my request so I could put them to the test. Out of all the sunglasses my kid owns, this is his all-time favorite pair; he actually begs to wear them. Not only are they super easy for a 2-year-old to put on by himself, but they are omnidirectional, meaning there is no upside-down.
My son has a very large head and these glasses do not pinch his temples. They are hinge-less, which is great for preventing pinching of fingers and whatnot; but because of this, the glasses do not fold up (read: take up room in your bag).
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