We started taking our children to the beach when they were just babes, and they took to the water immediately! What could be cuter than a baby giggling and splashing to their heart’s content? I certainly can’t think of anything!
You may be eager to take your little one to beaches and pools during the summer and even into fall, and that’s marvellous! I fully encourage introducing your bub to water as early as possible. However, you may be wondering about whether or not you need to include an infant wetsuit or rashguard on your list of essential baby beach items.
Is such a thing necessary when your infant has all of those adorable leg rolls and double chins to keep them warm? Absolutely!
A person’s body will lose heat if the water is cooler than 98.6 degrees, which is probable for many beaches and outdoor pools. Your baby is also likely to be excited about their experience in the water, so they may not immediately indicate they’re cold.
Those factors, along with the fact that babies can’t actually verbalize that they’re chilled, are enough reasons to want to keep your bub as warm as possible while they’re in the water.
We’ve assembled a list of the best baby wetsuits and rashguards to provide the added protection infants and older babies need to stay warm in the water. With so many cute options, it may be impossible to choose just one!
This post is part of our baby travel essentials series
Wetsuit vs Rashguard
What exactly is the difference between a wetsuit and a rashguard? Will a rashguard give your baby the same thermal benefits as a wetsuit? Let’s take a look:
If your goal is to keep your bub as warm as possible, an infant wetsuit or wrap is the best option. Wetsuits are often made from a 2mm or 3mm-thick neoprene material designed to keep a swimmer warm in a range of water temperatures.
Baby wetsuits can be shorties or a full-length design – it all depends on the climate and time of year you’re going to be swimming in. We recommend putting your baby in a close-fitting wetsuit if you have any plans of fully immersing them in the water for a long period of time (such as wearing them in a water carrier).
While infant wetsuits are made with warmth in mind, baby rashguards serve a different purpose. Rashguards have thin fabric that’s designed to protect your bub from sunburns, skin irritation, and bites/stings while they’re splashing in shallow water. A baby rashguard works well in warmer water but doesn’t preserve much body heat in colder temperatures. They’re an excellent layering option underneath a wetsuit, however.
Baby Wetsuit and Rashguard Buying Guide: Features to Look for in a Good Baby Wetsuit or Rashguard
When you’re shopping for the best baby wetsuits or rashguards for babies, it’s important to look for several essential features. The ultimate goal is for your tot to be as comfortable and safe as possible, so consider the following:
A chilled baby can quickly become hypothermic if they become too cold in the water, so make sure you’re dressing your bub in the correct material and layers. If the beach or pool is on the cooler side, an infant wetsuit with a rashguard underneath is the best choice. If the waters and outdoor temperature are more temperate, a wetsuit by itself or just the rashguard will keep your baby warm and comfortable.
Most baby wetsuits intended for warmth should be 2-3mm in thickness.
Remember that harmful UVA and UVB rays can damage your baby’s delicate skin even on overcast days. Sunscreen also only stays on for a short time in the water before washing off, and you don’t want a sunburnt baby!
Wetsuits and rashguards for babies provide an extra layer of UV protection to help you avoid having an irritable and uncomfortable infant later on. Always choose products for babies marked UPF 50+.
You don’t want your infant wetsuit to be overly loose, as this leads to heat loss in cooler temperatures. Most baby wetsuit material is made of neoprene, and some brands offer different insulation levels for added customization. Babies can be quite wiggly, so the material should have some elasticity to it.
Look for designs with flatlock seams. This means the material is fused together and the material joints should cause less irritation to your child’s skin.
If you’re searching for a rashguard for babies, the material will often be a combination of quick-drying polyester and spandex to provide the ultimate stretchiness. Remember that a rashguard’s material is intended to be thin, so it will not do much to preserve your bub’s body heat.
You want your baby’s wetsuit or rashguard to fit fairly snugly, as excess material works against heat preservation and becomes uncomfortable with extended wear. However, a wetsuit or rashguard that’s too tight can restrict movement and cause itchy rashes. You’ll want to aim for that perfect “in the middle” fit.
Think also about whether they will be wearing an additional layer of swim diaper underneath too.
We all know how quickly babies grow, so it’s best just to accept you’ll be buying a new one the next summer!
Some people might be surprised by the number of skin irritants at beaches and pools, such as sea lice, jellyfish stings, and sand abrasions. The thicker material of infant wetsuits and even rashguards can protect your baby from harm and keep them happily splashing all day long.
Ease of Getting On and Off
Babies are notoriously tricky to dress, and it’s even more challenging to get a squirming infant in and out of a damp wetsuit or rashguard. You also have the added complication of needing to change soiled nappies while out and about. So look for a wetsuit or rashguard that easily unzips or unwraps for those surprise nappy changes on the sand.
Full Length vs. Shorty Wetsuits and Rashguards
If your bub is going to be splashing around in cooler than average water, a full-length wetsuit or rashguard will provide the most protection from the elements. However, a shorty wetsuit or rashguard will keep them cooler on the hottest summer days, primarily since infants can’t regulate their body temperature as well.
Differences in Designed Compared to Toddler and Older Kids Wetsuits
The main difference between an infant wetsuit or rashguard and those designed for older children is that you don’t really need to consider the mobility factor as much. After all, a baby isn’t going to be running into the water. You should look for a wetsuit or rashguard that will keep your bub snug, warm, and comfortable in or near the water.
If you are looking at designs that will fit older children, don’t forget to check out our buying guides for the best toddler wetsuits and the best wetsuits for kids.
Best Baby Wetsuits and Rashguards for Babies
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Pricing guide: $ = under $20USD; $$ – $20-$30USD; $$$ – over $30USD
Best Cold Water Baby Wetsuit: Splash About Warm in One Baby Wetsuit
This award-winning, full-length baby wetsuit by Splash About has a fleece-lined interior that keeps your infant snuggly warm and comfortable in chilly water. The soft neoprene exterior protects sensitive skin from rashes and sunburns, and the full-body design gives just the right amount of coverage.
The Warm in One Wetsuit comes in several adorable colors and designs for both girls and boys, and you can find it in sizes through 2T. We found the price to be very reasonable for the quality of the wetsuit, and if possible, more than one child can wear it over the years.
What We Love:
Selection of vibrant and colorful designsAvailable in Newborn size through 2TUPF 50+ sun protectionThe fleece-lined interior keeps your baby toasty warmVelcro fastener in the back for quick and easy changing
Best Full-Length Baby Wetsuit: Cheekaaboo Warmiebabes One Piece Swimsuit
The cute and colorful Cheekaaboo wetsuit is made from double-lined neoprene to keep your bub warm in a range of water temperatures. The infant wetsuit covers your bub from tip to toe and has a leak-resistant design that creates a layer of insulation for ultimate comfort. The quick-drying material also has a layer of UV protective coating, making it an ideal choice.
This wetsuit for babies is available in three different colors and designs and comes in sizes 6-48 months. An added benefit of this particular suit is that it’s chlorine-resistant, meaning your infant can wear it in the pool as well.
What We Love:
Full-coverage design protects your baby from head to toeBack zipper closure makes changing a breezeUVF 50+ protection prevents your infant’s sensitive skin from becoming damagedMachine washable on hand wash settingTight seal on ankles and wrists prevents water inflow and outflow
Best Shorty Baby Wetsuit: Lily & Jack Toddler and Baby Wetsuit Shorty
This Lily & Jack thermal wetsuit is perfect for older babies through toddler age, especially once your little one is a bit more mobile. The thick yet stretchy neoprene fabric offers just the right amount of warmth while providing enough flexibility for your bub to crawl, splash, and play.
This infant wetsuit is available in two vibrant colors and is both chlorine and salt-resistant. It protects your baby’s skin from harsh UV rays, and it’s machine washable as well. The fabric interior on the zipper also keeps it from pinching or rubbing for hours of comfortable play.
What We Love:
Made of 2mm thick neoprene fabric that protects your bub from harsh UV rays, chlorine, and sandStretchy fabric provides plenty of room for babies to move aroundEasily unzips for quick nappy changesAvailable in two colors and three different sizes to fit babies from 6 months to 2 yearsMachine washable for added convenience
Best Baby Wetsuit Wrap: Splash About Baby Wrap Neoprene Wetsuit
As a parent, you know that the most straightforward option is often the best one when it comes to dressing a baby. It doesn’t get any easier than this wrap-style neoprene infant wetsuit! The 3mm thick material keeps your bub’s core nice and warm while still allowing freedom of movement.
This one-piece wetsuit wrap for babies is made with ultimate customization in mind. We love the versatility offered by the wide sections of hooks and loops, which allows your baby to keep wearing the same wetsuit as they grow. In addition, the adjustable velcro closure keeps the wrap and works to maintain body temperature in cooler temperatures.
What We Love:
Available in sizes 0-30 months with several adjustable size optionsBright and colorful designs for both boys and girlsThick 3mm neoprene fabric preserves body heat in chilly conditionsUPF 50+ protection to prevent painful sunburnsEasily unwraps flat for changing nappies and clothingWorks well as an outer layer over a baby rashguard
Best Baby Rash Guards
Best Full-Length Baby Rashguards for Boys: UV SKINZ UPF 50+ Baby Boys’ Sun & Swim Suit
Your bub will be cool and comfy from head to toe in this UV SKINZ full-length rashguard. The raglan-style sleeves are designed to provide a full range of motion, and the suit’s material is resistant to both chlorine and saltwater. This baby rashguard also has flat-lock seams for increased durability so that it will last through many days of fun in the sun.
Additionally, this rashguard for boys comes in 5 adorable designs, and it’s available in sizes 3 months to 3T. The full-front zipper makes changing a breeze, and the suit blocks out 98% of harmful UV rays. So if you’re looking for an infant rashguard that offers optimal protection, this suit fits the bill.
What We Love:
Breathable fabric keeps your baby cool on hot summer daysPerfect for layering under an infant wetsuit in cooler watersJust pop in the washing machine when you need to clean itDurable material holds up in both saltwater and chlorinated waterFun colors and designs to choose from
Best Full-Length Baby Rashguards for Girls: weVSwe Baby Rash Guard Swimsuit
If you’re looking for a cute full-length rashguard for baby girls, this one is both stylish and durable. The polyester blend material features a four-way stretch to keep your infant comfortable in hot weather, and there’s an additional zipper closure around the legs so that you don’t have to take the whole suit off to change a soiled nappy.
These colorful rashguards for babies come in sizes 0-6 months through 3T, and you don’t have to worry about the fabric fading with repeated use. The suit’s material is treated for colorfastness and resistance to salt and chlorine, and the full-body design offers optimal UV protection.
What We Love:
Rashguard is available in 9 designs and 6 different sizesConvenient bottom zipper allows for quick nappy changes on the goSoft, stretchy fabric is both durable and comfortableSalt and chlorine-resistant
Best Shorty Baby Rashguard: Upandfast Baby/Toddler One-Piece Swimsuit
This long-sleeve shorty rashguard is an ideal option for the hottest summer days. The comfortable quick-drying material keeps all the essentials protected from the sun’s rays while keeping your bub cool at the same time. In addition, the soft, stretchy fabric has all the flexibility your baby needs to splash and play comfortably.
The baby rashguard has an extended zipper in the back that allows you to quickly get your infant in and out for changing. Additionally, the flexible fabric has built-in UPF 50+ protection, and it comes in 3 months all the way up to 2T. With 13 fun designs to choose from, you’ll be able to find the perfect choice for your little boy or girl.
What We Love:
Soft, flexible fabric provides freedom of movementComes with an adorable sun hatLong sleeves protect from sunburn, while shorty design keeps baby coolAvailable in a wide range of sizes and multiple colors
Best Baby Rash Guard Sets for Boys: Simple Joys by Carter’s Boys’ Rashguard Set
It’s hard to beat the quality and price of these baby rashguard sets by Carters. They’re available in a wide selection of both long-sleeve and short-sleeve shirts and swim trunks. We also appreciate the adjustable waistband on the swim trunks, as it’s often difficult to find a one-size-fits-all option for babies.
These rashguard sets for infants are versatile for every beach or pool situation, and all styles and combinations are available in sizes 3 months up to 5T. The UPF 50+ fabric is soft, durable, and stretchy enough for even the wiggliest baby.
What We Love:
Large selection of mix-and-match setsWide range of colorful designs and sizesFunctional drawstring on swim trunks for easy customizationThe 2-piece design makes changing nappies a breeze
Best Baby Rash Guard Sets for Girls: Simple Joys by Carter’s Girls’ 2-Piece Assorted Rash Guard Set
These baby rashguards for girls by Carters are the perfect combination of style and functionality. The rashguard tops come in both short and long sleeves, and each swimsuit bottom has adorable ruffle accents. The polyester blend fabric is soft, stretchy, and durable enough to protect your baby’s sensitive skin from the sun.
We love that each infant rashguard set is available in 3 months up through 5T, and the price point is incredibly reasonable. Additionally, several fun designs and color combinations allow you to mix and match multiple sets to suit your needs.
What We Love:
Several vibrant, colorful styles to choose fromSeparate bottom makes it easier to change soiled nappiesRashguards available in different sleeve lengthsPolyester blend fabric is soft and breathable
Before you go…more on taking baby to the beach
If your looking to take your first beach or resort-style vacation with a baby hitting the water you may also be interested to check out these posts:
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