Why your toddler might need a wetsuit and the best brands to consider in 2021
When it comes to hitting the water with your little ones, we know they can be fiercely brave jumping in – no matter the temperature! Though their bravery might seem heroic and cute, remember it doesn’t take long for younger children to lose body temperature which can quickly result in hypothermia.
The reason for this is they have far greater surface area in proportion to their body mass. So in order to protect toddler and babies in cold water, its important to give their skin the extra protective layer it needs – cue toddler wetsuits!
We usually think about water safety in terms of life jackets, sun hats and aqua shoes, but their body warmth is especially important too.
If you’re an active family that loves your trips to the beach, snorkeling, paddling or all variety of water sports, there’s no reason to completely discount bringing your little one along, as long as you take preventative measures to keep them safe in the water.
This post is part of our best travel products series of family gear reviews – you may also like to check out all our best toddler travel advice
Toddler Wetsuit Buying Guide: What to Look for in Good Wetsuits for Toddlers
When you’re trying to buy wetsuits for toddlers, it’s crucial to look for many important attributes – don’t just go for the cheapest on the market or you could end up with one very uncomfortable and distressed tot! Consider the following features:
Rash Guard vs Wetsuit
A lot of people confuse rash guards with wetsuits, but they aren’t the same. A wetsuit is made of special material to keep your child warm, while a rash guard only prevents rashes and sunburns while surfing or swimming. A wetsuit can do both – protect children from rashes and sunburns while keeping warm when in the water.
Your little one deserves to enjoy splashing and swimming, free from shivering and chattering teeth. Chilly water and windy weather can take the fun out of the experience and even induce hypothermia. But an insulated thermal wetsuit will preserve body temperature and keep your child safe from the cold.
As a rough guide to the thickness of material you will need, consider this temperature guide:
Water >26°C / 80°Frash guard onlyWater 21°C to 25°C / 71°F to 79°F.1 -2mm shortyWater 18°C to 20°C / 65°F to 70°F2-3mm full-length wetsuitWater below 17°C / 64°F3-4mm full-length wetsuit & boots
Whether your kid is sitting on the beach splashing water or taking their first ever swimming lesson, the sun’s UVA and UVB rays are always beaming on your child’s delicate, soft skin – even on cloudy days. Sunblock doesn’t last in the water, and that’s where a wetsuit comes in handy. It should be able to protect your child from harsh UV rays.
If you are in a warmer climate and only looking to protect from UV rays, then a toddler rashy or sun shirt will be a better solution than a wetsuit giving more freedom of movement while protecting their skin.
Your toddler wetsuit needs to be tight-fitting to be effective, but will only feel comfortable if it’s made from stretchy material. For this reason, neoprene is one of the best fabrics for toddler wetsuits, though the suit might contain lycra, too for extra elasticity. A high-quality wetsuit might have a nylon, titanium, or fleece lining to preserve heat and keep your child warm.
Another important wetsuit design feature to look for is flatlock seams. This is where seams are butted and glued together rather than stitched so that the seams don’t protrude and cause your toddler irritation. (This method can account for the sometimes chemically smell you get when you first get your new wetsuit – don’t be put off by this, it’s not harmful).
If the wetsuit you buy for your child is too tight, it will cause trouble during movements and cause skin irritations. If it’s too loose, it will fail to keep your kid warm and dry. So, you have to buy something that fits your child snuggly to really keep out the cold.
For this reason, unfortunately, wetsuits are one of those items that won’t last a child for very long – you want to make sure before investing they will get a good few wears out of it before moving to the next size.
If you still have a very small infant, make sure you check out our buying guide for the best wetsuits for babies, these will provide options with a more appropriate fit for very young children.
Further skin protection that a wetsuit offers your toddler is against any nasties that might be floating in the water. There’s nothing worse than a jellyfish sting; a toddler wetsuit will provide your little one with that extra layer of protection from marine stings, sea lice and abrasions.
How to get the wetsuit on and off
Make sure that the wetsuit you buy is easy to put on and remove – a challenge for a product designed to be clingy! An easy-to-use zipper in the front is the best option for toddlers, though back zippers can also work as long as it goes down to the waist, and of course, an adult will need to assist.
For smaller ones, under 12 months, you can pick out a wetsuit designed like a wrap opening bodysuit which gives them a little more movement and easier to remove from a wiggly infant.
Full Length vs Shorty Wetsuit
A full-length wetsuit will protect your child from the sun and the cold entirely. This is especially helpful when it’s very cold or the sun is too blistering. If you’re looking for a wetsuit to help your kid get some relief from humid summer days, a shorty with short sleeves can be a fine choice for your toddler.
One of the difficult elements of a wetsuit for toddlers is deciding what to do if they are not fully toilet trained. A swim diaper should still be worn under a wetsuit to prevent faeces accidents if your child is yet to be toilet trained. Do allow for this when picking your sizing. As you no doubt know, a swim diaper does little to help with number 1’s…
Differences in Design Compared to Older Kids Wetsuit
Your infant or toddler needs a wetsuit designed differently than the one required by a seasoned swimmer or surfer. For the tiny ones who are just getting introduced to the pool and beach, a wetsuit’s main purpose is to give warmth and fit snuggly to them. It doesn’t need to be a high-end one for surfing. Besides, most pro-surfing brand wetsuits simply don’t cater to the smallest members of your family!
Best Wetsuits for Toddlers
The right wetsuit will ensure that your baby has a safe experience in the water. You already know what qualities you must look for while buying the best wetsuits for toddlers and infants. Now it’s time for you to take a look at the best products you can buy. Let’s take a look, more details below:
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Best Cold Weather Toddler Wetsuit: Move 2 Change Full Length Wetsuit
This neoprene toddler wetsuit by Move 2 Change is among the finest wetsuits for young children. The material is optimal for all water activities like swimming and surfing. It is a thermal suit that also protects kids’ delicate skin from the harsh rays of the sun. The material provides all-around protection.
It’s available only in one design, though it’s a fun, unisex pattern mixing black, white, green, and blue. The wetsuit is available in two sizes – one that fits toddlers of 2 to 3 years and the other to fit kids of 4 to 5 years. But remember that this suit is not designed for chlorinated water as chlorine can damage the material.
What we love:
Toddler full wetsuit to guard your child from ankles to wristsFlexible design and tight seal for ultimate comfort and warmth3 mm neoprene to keep away harsh rays and stingers in the waterFull back zipper to help put the suit on and off easilyUnisex design in two sizes for children as young as 2 years
Want their feet protected too? For all-over warmth and comfort, it’s best to also purchase specially designed aqua shoes for your toddler
Best Shorty Toddler Wetsuit: Goldfin Kids Wetsuit Shorty
The wetsuit shorty from the house of Goldfin is one of the best toddler wetsuit options you’ll find for your active child. Made of neoprene, this suit gives ultimate comfort and flexibility when your child is out there learning to swim or sitting on the beach, splashing water. It is resistant to chlorine and salt.
This suit is available in four vibrant colours and patterns that your little one will love! It offers complete protection from harmful sun rays. Many parents trust this brand because its a wetsuit that can slow down the loss of body heat and prevent hypothermia during extended exposure to water. It will keep your kid warm.
What we love:
Made of 2 mm neoprene that protects the child from sunlight, UV rays, and sandWarmth retention to keep out cold while your little one plays in the pool or beachFits the wearer like a second skin during activities like swimming, diving, etc.Long-lasting zipper in the front for easy wear and self-removal of the wetsuitAvailable in sizes 1-10 for children of all ages, including infants and toddlers
Runner Up Shorty Toddler Wetsuit: Seaskin Kids Wetsuit Shorty
If you’re looking for the right suit to ensure your child has the best time in the pool, check out the Seaskin Kids Wetsuit Shorty. It is one of the best wetsuits for toddlers that can keep your toddler warm. It can work perfectly even when your kid is training in a non-heated pool, or there’s a nip in the air.
Made of neoprene, this wetsuit is perfectly insulated to keep out extreme weather conditions, be it heat or cold. The suit dries quickly and retains shape easily. It is ideal for water sports for kids as well as a summer afternoon of fun at the beach. It is available in two stylish shades and for kids of all ages.
What we love:
Made of 2mm neoprene for complete protectionDelicate for the skin and body of little childrenPerfect for water sports and relaxing time in the waterThermal suit to maintain warmth while keeping UV rays away Front zipper for convenience for children of all agesAvailable in sizes 2 through to 12
Best Warmer Weather Toddler Wetsuit: Cressi Boys’ Short Sleeves
This cute and practical shorty wetsuit from reputable brand Cressi is ideal for a toddler that still likes a lot of freedom in movement. Made of a slightly thinner neoprene, this wetsuit is ideal when you just need to take the edge off cooler water whilst still protecting them from the sun (particularly great in our desert climate where the outside air is warm but water dips below around 25°C/79°F)
Only the front and back panels on this toddler wetsuit are made from extra padded neoprene with elastine sleeves and collar, giving the wearer a little more freedom to move that thicker toddler wetsuits do not allow for.
What we love:
Made snuggly of 1.5 mm neoprene ideal for a warmer climate and UV protectionFits the wearer like a second skin during activities like swimming, snorkelingEasy to use front zipper for ease of taking on and off in the front for easy wear and self-removal of the wetsuitAvailable in sizes 2-10 in pink and blue
Best wetsuit for smaller infants: Lily&Jack Toddler & Baby Wetsuit
Lily&Jack’s wetsuit collection features both toddler wetsuit and infant wetsuit collections in two bright shades. This wetsuit line is designed for the tiniest tots because why shouldn’t they start having fun early? It’s a thermal wetsuit that will give you peace of mind when your child enjoys splashing water.
The suit is made with a mix of neoprene and lycra to give protection, warmth, and comfort to the fussiest little ones. It offers complete protection for sunburns and UV rays. It can also keep a child warm and comfy, preventing chilly waters and winds from making your little shiver in the cold.
What we love:
Soft and flexible fabric to allow free movementFlatlock stitching for superior comfortThermal swimsuit to keep your baby warmProtects children from sunburns, heat, and UV raysFront zipper for convenient closure and removalDesigned especially for children between 6 months and 2 years
Runner Up wetsuit for smaller infants: Splash About Warm in One Baby Wetsuit
Have you been looking for a protective wetsuit for your newborn to hit the beach? Your hunt ends at Splash About, a brand that offers wetsuits for mini-humans as young as 3 months of age! This brand offers a collection of onesies in the cutest designs to keep your baby comfortable and protected.
Unlike other wetsuits, the fit is not as snug, great for little ones who have sensory issues or don’t like feeling so constricted in their wetsuit. This fleece-lined product is ideal for every child’s first swimming lessons or getting them acquainted with the beach and waves for the first time.
What we love:
Fleece-lined to keep wearers warm in chilly watersVelcro opening to make it easy to put on and offDesigned to provide UPF 50+ sun protectionProtects sensitive skin and keeps skin cream in placeAvailable for kids aged between 3 months and 2 years
Note, there is no inbuilt swim diaper. You babies, you must also use a disposable or re-usable swim diaper under the wetsuit. The manufacturer recommends one of our personal favourites Happy Nappy with a snug fit to prevent accidents in the water.
Another to consider for smaller infants: Swimbubs Baby Swimming Wrap Toddler Wetsuit
Are you looking for swimsuits for toddlers and babies? Swimbubs offers one of the best wetsuits for younger babies. It allows easy movement for every child as they swim, splash, and slip in the waters. It’s the perfect suit for the little water-babies, keeping them warm and happy while guarding them against the sun.
The wrap-around design, neoprene material, and soft seams of the wetsuit make it a comfortable wear for babies. The adorable patterns with sharks and whales, available in two different colours, will make your child the centre of attention. It’s the perfect suit to make swimming enjoyable even for the smallest members of your family.
What we love:
Wrap-around design and adjustable velcro closure for easy wearingSoft material and seams to prevent chafing or irritationPerfect beachwear offering UPF 50+ protectionNon-slip material to keep wriggly babies safeAvailable for kids of 0-30 months of age
NB – whilst wetsuits can aid buoyancy, they are in no way a replacement for a swim vest or lifevest. If your little one is learning to swim, please look at our swimming vest guide to compliment any sort of thermal protection offered by a wetsuit.
We hope in this selection of toddler wetsuit solutions you’ve found something suitable for your tot and the conditions you’ll be swimming in. If your child is growing beyond the sizes we’ve discussed here, make sure you head over next to our selection of the best wetsuits for kids.
Proper Cleaning and Care of Your Toddler Wetsuit
Toddler wetsuits need more care and attention after use than their ordinary swimwear to maintain their shape and to prevent smells (even if you’re using a swim diaper, trust me, kids still pee in them).
At a minimum, after each use it’s recommended that you:
Turn the suit inside out and open all zippersRinse the wet suit in fresh cold water removing all sandLeave to dry on a hanger in the shade from the waist (avoid direct sunlight with neoprene or hanging from the shoulders which can make the suit misshapen) Check out these specialised hangers for wetsuits, ideal for retaining their shapeTurn the wetsuit back the right way around so both sides of the material have a chance to dry
Family Beach Vacation Advice
Looking for more great advice and product reviews before heading to the beach? Check out more ideas from our beach travel collection:
Best Beach Toys – looking for more fun in the sun on the beach? Here’s our all-time favourite tried & tested top 10 beach toys.
Best beach shoes – no more burning feet on foot sand or little shell cuts, here’s how we protect our little ones feet.
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