Our Favorite Kids Beachwear | Reviews by Wirecutter – The New York Times

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We’ve reviewed our recommendations, and we still think these suits, hats, and shoes are great choices for parents and kids looking for superior sun protection and smoother beach days.
Great kid swimwear can reduce some of the hassles of family beach days, leaving you with memories of fun in the sun instead of sunburn and sand rash. Below are some of our favorite kids swimsuits, rash guards, sun hats, swim diapers, and water shoes for days at the beach, lake, or pool. You’ll notice a theme: We’re fans of fuller-coverage swimwear that reduces sun exposure (and sunscreen struggles), wedgies, and body crevices full of sand. We’d love to hear your own favorites in the comments below.
And if you’re looking for sunscreen, swim goggles, bug repellent, sun shelters, snorkels, sand toys, or other outdoor gear to fill up your beach bag or collapsible beach wagon, we have recommendations for those, as well.
Hanna Andersson Sunblock Rash Guard Suit (from about $30 at the time of publication)
HowJoJo Rash Guard Sunsuit ($20 at the time of publication)
This style of one-piece, zip-up swimsuit keeps little kids relatively covered up, reducing both sun exposure and sunscreen struggles (my own kids called it “sunscream” for many years, which accurately portrayed our experience of applying it). Multiple Wirecutter parents have found that it’s harder for sand to work its way into these rash-guard suits—and into swim diapers, where it quickly invites rash—than into looser separates. We’ve had several styles of one-pieces, though the Hanna Andersson Sunblock Rash Guard Suit—which comes in stripes and fun patterns and is usually available in styles with long sleeves as well as short—was long our go-to. The only con: Hanna Andersson makes these suits only to fit kids up to about 3 years old (though my average-size kid was able to wear Hanna Andersson’s largest one-piece suit until he was 6). A good alternative available in bigger sizes is this $20 HowJoJo Rash Guard Sunsuit available on Amazon. I bought three of these suits over several summers, and though they’re not as well made as ones from Hanna, they held up to be handed down, even with frequent wear. (Note that at press time time the only style available was pink and teal.)
—Kalee Thompson
SwimZip Long-Sleeve Sunsuit Romper (starting at $40 at the time of publication)
SwimZip Long-Sleeve Rash Guard Swimsuit Shorts Set (starting at $35 for a three-piece set at the time of publication)
I bought both of my daughters SwimZip sunsuits for a trip to Mexico and highly recommend them. At the time, there was a lot in the news about Zika virus, so I wanted suits that would not only protect my girls from the sun but that could be used along with good bug spray to ward off mosquitoes. Because my younger daughter was only 2 months old, her pediatrician recommended we spray the long-sleeved romper with bug spray, rather than spray it directly on her skin. The long-sleeved rash guard, shorts, and tankini set I bought my older daughter held up well enough over two summers to hand down to her sister. I love the SwimZip suits’ fun, colorful prints, the UPF 50+ sun protection they provide, and the zipper opening that makes them easy to get on and off. The rompers range in size from 0–6 months to 5T; the rash guard and shorts set comes in sizes from 12–18 months up to ages 12–14 for big kids.
—Christine Cyr Clisset
Lands’ End Girls Stretch Woven Comfort Waist Swim Shorts (about $30 at the time of publication)
Lands’ End Girls Short Sleeve Crew Neck UPF 50 Swim Rash Guard ($25 at the time of publication)
Before a spring break trip to Florida, my kids requested two-piece bathing suits because they were tired of pulling cold, clingy one-piece suits off and on for bathroom breaks. I let them pick out suits from Lands’ End because I’ve had a great experience with their inclusive, well-made swimsuit separates for adults. You can mix and match any of Lands’ End’s kids swim separates, which include short- and long-sleeved rash guards, tanks, trunks, shorts, briefs, and skirts. (Note that measurements for girls’ and boys’ sizes are slightly different, so consult the size charts if you are pairing a boys’ top with girls’ bottoms, or vice versa). My 8-year-old chose a short-sleeved rash guard and shorts (with pockets!), which stayed wedgie-free during hours of swimming and water slides; my 7-year-old opted for a skirt with just the right amount of swish.
—Courtney Schley
Cheeky Chickadee Unisex Long Sleeve Swimmer (from about $30 at the time of publication)
If you want your kiddo to stand out at the shore, the Australian line Cheeky Chickadee makes swimsuits in bold patterns that you probably won’t see anywhere else. Designed by a mom of five living in Sydney, Cheeky’s limited-edition prints are cartoony, bright, and incredibly detailed: The Great Barrier Reef pattern depicts an entire underwater scene, complete with sharks, seahorses, and scuba diving koalas! While I’ve had great experiences with several of their suit styles, I think the long-sleeved one-piece suits are the standout. Designed in a unisex shorts style or in a traditional swimsuit cut with ruffle accent at the leg, these suits are among the softest I’ve ever felt, especially for a fabric that protects with UPF 50. The suits I’ve owned for more than a year have held up great overall (the patterns are still as vibrant as when I bought them), though I did notice my daughter’s suit got a little pilly on the bottom after a summer of sitting on rocks and rough sand. That minor pilling doesn’t bother me too much given the unique prints and soft material, and I also love Cheeky because of the deals: Since the company is based in Australia, it’s stocking for the opposite season we are, which results in summery products going on sale when we need them here in the US. (I’ve found these rashguard suits for about $11!). Another thing to remember if you’re buying something from across the world is that delivery will take about two weeks. Cheeky’s shipping is free for orders over roughly $140, and is $15 otherwise. The suits are sized for 3–6 months through to age 12.
—Catherine Kast
Hanna Andersson Rash Guard (from about $30 at the time of publication)
We’ve spent several summers observing how long it takes various rash guards to stay looking and feeling new, and we’ve concluded that rash guards from Hanna Andersson stand out. They make both short- and long-sleeved rash guards in fabrics that are generally a bit thicker than those made by other companies (and also notably cute—from strawberries to suns to sharks). While rash guards bought at Target, for example, were stretched out and pilly by the end of a single season, one bright-orange, long-sleeved Hanna Andersson rash guard I bought more than four years ago is now on its second kid and still looking close to pristine, with very little pilling or fabric stretching. Each season there are new styles to choose from. I selected this sky blue graphic shark and a vibrant short-sleeved orange shirt for my two boys most recently, having found generally, and unsurprisingly, that white is a poor choice if you’re interested in longevity of kid clothing. A bright, more unusual color is also a good way to help you spot your kid quickly at a crowded beach or pool. The shirts come in sizes 2 to 12.
—Kalee Thompson
Primary Rash Guard (from about $20 at the time of publication)
If you think your kid would prefer a lighter-feeling rash guard, then the long-sleeved rash guards from Primary, which my kids and those of other Wirecutter parents have liked, would make a good match. The fabric of these shirts is lighter and slightly silkier-feeling than those from Hanna Andersson and might appeal more to those in warmer climates who’d rather have something that feels thinner. (Primary’s swimwear is also generally a bit less expensive than Hanna Andersson’s.) We’ve had this rash guard for only one year, so I’m not as confident about its longevity. But my own rainbow-obsessed kid liked his rainbow-striped shirt, and I love that Primary, whose patterns are not separated by gender as many little-kid lines are, has an entire page devoted to rainbow swimwear. The rash guards come in sizes 2–3 to 12 and with long or short sleeves. Some styles have a half-zip at the front, which could appeal to kids who dislike pulling tight things over their heads.
—Kalee Thompson
i Play by Green Sprouts Rashguard Shirt (starting at $13 at the time of publication)
I try to cover every inch of my fair-skinned children when we hit the beach or pool, and tugging on a long-sleeved rash guard is easier than slathering sunscreen on their wiggly arms and torsos. We’ve bought multiple sizes of i Play rash guards over the years, and I love their fit and the speed with which they dry. They’re cut so that the bottom of the shirt doesn’t ride up and let the sun get through, and the quality of the material and stitching are noticeably better than that of cheaper rash guards I’ve bought at Target, which lose their elasticity after a few wash cycles (something that other Wirecutter parents have observed as well). Crucially for us, the neck opening is large enough to easily pull over my son’s 80th-percentile noggin. These rash guards are available in a wide variety of colors (though we’ve learned to avoid the white ones because they are easy to permanently stain). They come in sizes from 6 months to 4T, are usually $20 or less, and are available on Amazon Prime, which is handy if you ever need one at the last minute.
—Erica Ogg
Toobydoo Rash Guard (from about $45 at the time of publication)
If you’ve got a toddler in that thrilling "I do it myself" phase, finding a suit that they can actually put on themselves is key. Last spring, after losing countless wrestling matches with my daughter while trying to squeeze tight, long-sleeved tops over her head, I stumbled upon these adorable UPF 50 zip-up rash guards at Toobydoo, a darling kids shop in Princeton, New Jersey. I chose the preppy-patterned Nora style for her, and it’s one of the few suits she digs out of her drawer and declares that she wants to wear. It has a strong zipper that kiddos can pull up with ease, and it’s sturdy enough that it won’t snag on fabric—or worse, on their skin. It dries quickly and hasn’t faded at all, despite being in heavy rotation at the pool, beach, and playground sprinklers all last year. I unearthed it for a trip to Florida a couple of months ago, and it looked practically new and still had its stretch. Toobydoo’s rash guards are available in classic solid colors (aqua, blue, and pink) as well as a couple of surfer-esque colorblock styles. The size range is also fantastic — from 3–6 months to 13–14 years old.
—Catherine Kast
Hanna Andersson Recycled Swim Trunks (from about $30 at the time of publication)
There are plenty of traditional swim trunks for kids out there, and most of them are just fine. But, again, we’ve found that though Hanna Andersson’s trunks cost more—typically twice as much as what you might pay at Target, Costco, or the like—they can last three times as long, without much fading or other aging of the fabric. They come in an array of blocky solids, stripes, and patterns, have a notably soft mesh lining, pockets, and a functional drawstring—weirdly, many drawstrings on kids shorts are just for show—and are available in sizes 2 to 12. Of this summer’s designs I chose some with 80s-ish piping and colorblock patterns for my own kids. As with all Hanna Andersson clothing, it’s smart to wait for sales if you can—they’re frequent. A less-expensive swim trunk that we’ve also found to be comfortable and long-lasting are the Boys Solid Swim Trunks from Land’s End.
—Kalee Thompson
Flap Happy UPF 50+ Swim Flap Hat (starting at $19 at the time of publication)
Getting my toddler to keep her hat on was a struggle—she hated chin straps, stiff fabrics, fitted crowns, anything that reminded her she was wearing something on her head. The Flap Happy UPF 50+ Swim Flap Hat worked well for us, though: Its swimsuit-like polyester-spandex material is lightweight, cool, and breathable, and the elastic band helps it stay put. In our case, it was comfortable enough that my toddler didn’t even notice the hat when it was on. The foam-filled brim and flap provided ample sun protection while staying out of her face, and the hat air-dried quickly and packed down easily. It lasted a couple of seasons of wear because, best of all, the stretchy material and design give the hat a flexible fit. Senior staff writer Ingrid Skjong, who tested all four of the hats we recommend with her 2- and 5-year-olds, liked this one the best for her younger child, who wears it without a second thought. She found it easy to slip on and off (no ties to contend with) and appreciated the full ear and neck coverage. And we now know that the hat is durable enough to last through multiple kids, as my second-born later enjoyed the same hats that my oldest child wore. Although many Amazon reviewers have noted that the brim flops down into their child’s face when it gets wet, we didn’t have this problem. Flap Happy hats come in vivid solids as well as stripes, polka dots, and other patterns, and in sizes XS to XXL, which should fit newborns to 3 years plus. But I recommend measuring your kid’s head circumference and referring to the company’s size chart to get the correct fit.
—Winnie Yang
i Play by Green Sprouts Brim Sun Protection Hat (starting at $15 at the time of publication)
i Play by Green Sprouts Flap Sun Protection Hat (starting at $14 at the time of publication)
These swim hats come in two styles—one with a full brim and another with a protective flap covering the ears and the back of the neck. I’ve used both for more than four years on two kids, and I prefer the flap kind when they are younger and in the stroller more often. When they’re older and walking everywhere, both work equally well. The hats are made of a woven polyester that blocks UV rays, is easy to care for (I once had to stanch my toddler’s bleeding wound with our white i Play sun hat, and the hat washed up beautifully, without a trace of said accident), and air-dries fast. Both styles have two long ties for securing the hat under the chin and a drawstring at the crown. Wirecutter senior staff writer Ingrid Skjong, who tried both styles, liked the soft, light fabric and cute silhouettes but found that the two long ties that secure the hats under the chin distracted her 2-year-old; the brimmed style also sat a bit too high on his head. They’re lightweight and inexpensive, and they come in a wide variety of colors and in sizes ranging from 3 months up to 4T.
—Erica Ogg
Sunday Afternoons Kids Play Hat ($30 at the time of publication)
Lullaby Kids Adjustable Safari Sun Hat ($18 at the time of publication)
Persuading my kids to put on a sun hat has often been a battle. But this lightweight nylon model from Sunday Afternoons fits far better than most and is easy for kids to forget about, once it’s on. It comes in three sizes, toddler (estimated at 6 to 24 months), little kids (ages 2 to 5), and big kids. The company defines “big kids” as ages 5 to 12, but in a pinch this hat fits fine on my own average-size adult head as well (this company also makes Wirecutter’s best hiking sun hat for adults). A tab at the back allows you to adjust the hat like a baseball cap, the breakaway chin strap is less itchy than most, and a back flap provides all-important neck protection. We’ve had the classic cream-colored hats, but this model comes in bright colors and patterns as well. And it has a lifetime warranty. My colleague Courtney Schley has had good luck outfitting her kids in this extremely similar hat from Lullaby Kids, which is generally about two-thirds the price.
—Kalee Thompson
Babiators Aviator Sunglasses (from about $20 at the time of publication)
Roshambo Eyeware Sunglasses ($25 at the time of publication)
Unlike cheapie kids sunglasses, which can easily snap in half, Babiators are durable and can withstand a lot of abuse. Although the lenses can scratch (my then-2-year-old accomplished this by scraping the lenses along a cement wall), they don’t shatter, and the frames are virtually unbreakable. Plus, if you register your Babiators, you can get a replacement pair sent to you, no questions asked, if you lose them or break them within a year of purchase; you just pay for shipping—a generous warranty I have successfully utilized. Babiators makes lots of styles in addition to the Aviator (including the Navigator, pictured above), with frames in punchy brights as well as neutral black and white. All of the sunglasses provide 100% UVA and UVB protection, according to the company, and they also make polarized options, so kiddos will look cute and see clearly. The Junior should fit ages 6 months to 2 years, the Classic ages 3 to 5, and the Blue Series ages 6 and up, but refer to the Babiators size chart for guidance and corresponding measurements. For a wider variety of styles and colors, Roshambo Eyeware is another brand we recently turned to after my 6-year-old began insisting that everything he owns must be red. Although Roshambo doesn’t offer a loss guarantee, they do provide polarized replacement lenses for free, and $5 off mirrored lenses (you pay shipping). Though we’ve only owned ours for seven months, we’re very happy with the quality so far.
—Lauren Dragan
Boden Towelling Beach Dress (from about $50 at the time of publication)
Boden Towelling Throw On (from about $50 at the time of publication)
The Boden Towelling Beach Dress is an easy alternative to a towel and the only coverup we buy our daughter. It’s made of terry cloth (it’s an 85% cotton/15% polyester blend), and the hood has a soft cotton lining. My daughter is 10 now, and we’ve bought five or six of these dresses since she was a toddler. She still asks for new ones as she grows because they’re soft and comfy. She can throw this cover-up on when she’s still pretty damp, and it keeps her warm enough to hang out for a while before she needs dry clothes. It’s pretty indestructible, and we’ve found that each one lasts a couple of years before she outgrows it. The Boden Towelling Throw On is the same thing but in styles that don’t include the color pink (some have side pockets instead of the front pocket that the Beach Dress has). Both cover-ups come in sizes 2–3 up to 13–14 and Boden has several similar options for babies, too.
—Jackie Reeve
Slowtide Joaquin Kids Poncho ($55 at the time of publication)
I like having a terry-cloth coverup for my daughter for the same reason as Jackie (see above), but persuading this particular 6-year-old to put on anything with long sleeves when the ambient temperature is above 60 °F is a fool’s errand. The Slowtide Joaquin Kids Poncho has worked well for us; the fabric is thick and substantial enough to keep her warm after a dip, it slips on and off easily, it’s well constructed, and it’s sewn down the sides so it can pull double-duty as an actual garment in a pinch. Slowtide recommends the kids size for ages 4 to 7, but I like it so much—and my daughter does too—that I hope we can squeeze another year out of it. (And I’m going to get myself the adult version this year.)
—Winnie Yang
Hanna Andersson Sunsoft Terry Character Hoodie (from about $35 at the time of publication)
Though a towel-like cover-up that falls close to the knees is a more practical substitute for an actual towel, we’ve also liked these terry-cloth sweatshirts for covering up at the beach, or on the way home when little bodies are wet or chilly. They’re far from a necessity but feel nicely lightweight and less soggy than a typical sweatshirt when damp. We’ve always found all the zippered sweatshirts from Hanna Andersson to be high-quality and long-lasting. The new beach styles are particularly fun, with shark fins atop the hood. They come in sizes 2 to 12.
—Kalee Thompson
Crocs Kids’ Classic Clog (from $18 at the time of publication)
Crocs Kids’ Crocband Clog (from $21 at the time of publication)
As soon as it gets warm enough outside to go sockless, my daughter lives in her Crocs clogs, which she calls “favorite shoes.” She loves how comfortable they are, how simple they are to get on and off by herself, and how their grippiness makes it easy to climb rocks and playground equipment. I appreciate how well they protect her toes through all that climbing or at a rocky beach, how easy they are to hose down, and also how she can get them on and off herself. (The Native Jefferson, another house favorite, shares many of the Crocs’s virtues but is harder to get on wet feet.) Crocs come in dozens of colors, patterns, character themes, and styles, including the Crocband version, pictured above. As many parents can attest, Crocs are remarkably durable: The six pairs of “favorite shoes” we’ve gone through since my kid was about 18 months old (she’s now 6) have each withstood a season of pounding pavement and being ground into sand, gravel, and rocks, and they look none the worse for wear. Crocs range from infant sizes through adult, so you can get matching clogs for the whole family. Some parents find that Crocs run large; refer to the company’s sizing page to maximize your chances of an ideal fit.
—Winnie Yang
Keen Stingray (from $60 at the time of publication)
Keen Little Kids Newport H2 (from $65 at the time of publication)
Keen Big Kids Newport H2 (from $65 at the time of publication)
For a sturdier water shoe, we’ve recently turned to Keen Stingray sandals. I’ve long personally appreciated Keen shoes’ wide, stable soles (for years, a pair of Keen day hikers was my go-to choice when I was carrying a heavy tot in a hiking baby carrier). These littler Keen sandals are of the same quality. My grade-school-age kids have worn these shoes both to the beach and around town over the past couple of summers. They’re both longtime Croc fans, but the Keen shoes provide both better grip and a more customized fit for kids who are constantly in and out of the water (my older son lived in them for the weeks he spent at kayaking and sailing camps on Maine’s rocky coast). The Stingray has a lighter, simpler, less adjustable design than Keen’s older Newport, which is likely a better choice for a water shoe that can also go on rougher treks, such as a weeklong canoe camping trip along the Allagash Wilderness Waterway near Maine’s border with Quebec. Both my 10-year-old son and I wore them on the Allagash last summer, including during portages where I noticed that they were by far the most common footwear on the other paddlers we encountered.
—Kalee Thompson
Beau & Belle Littles Premium Reusable Swim Diaper ($17 at the time of publication)
I relied on a Beau & Belle Littles swim diaper for my son from the time he was a few weeks old. Thanks to its quality materials and adjustable sizing snaps for both waist fit and rise, he wore the same swim diaper until he potty trained at age 3. There was no fading at all, and the elastic around the waist and legs held up without a single stray thread, despite weekly wear. Plus, it’s secure: We never had a blowout. Washable swim diapers cut down on the bulk of disposable versions, and I like that they are more environmentally friendly—but they do require a little more thought and care. I didn’t put this swim diaper in the dryer, for instance, but it hang-dries fast. Beau & Belle swim diapers come in nearly a dozen colorful prints (such as mermaids, fish, flamingos, and pineapples) and two sizes (8 to 36 pounds and 20 to 55 pounds).
—Erica Ogg
AppleCheeks Washable Swim Diaper ($15 at the time of publication)
I love these swim diapers because they don’t get waterlogged like disposable swim diapers, yet they hold in solid waste very well. (Yes, we have personal experience.) This makes it easier for little ones to move in the water and won’t interfere with learning to swim, as bulkier disposable options can. We purchased two of these in size 2 when my child was 7 months old, and he still was able to use them at age 4, thanks to the broad series of snaps and the generous elastic stretch. AppleCheeks swim diapers come in several bright solids as well as fun patterns. Size 1 fits babies weighing 7 to 23 pounds, size 2 fits 18 to 35 pounds, and size 3 fits 30 to 65 pounds. Pro tip: Always have a second pair on hand, along with a waterproof wet bag, so if you need to change, you can contain the soiled diaper and deal with the wash at home rather than at the pool or beach.
—Lauren Dragan
This article was edited by Kalee Thompson.
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Wirecutter is the product recommendation service from The New York Times. Our journalists combine independent research with (occasionally) over-the-top testing so you can make quick and confident buying decisions. Whether it’s finding great products or discovering helpful advice, we’ll help you get it right (the first time).
© 2023 Wirecutter, Inc., A New York Times Company

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