Shopping

baby girl sitting on beach wearing hat
Pablo Martn Rodrguez / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images

9 Best UPF Swimsuits For Babies So They'll Be Safe In The Sun

Sometimes sunscreen just doesn’t cut it.

Updated: 
Originally Published: 

Summer is just around the corner which means long days, popsicles outside after dinner, fireflies, and fireworks, but it also means thinking of creative ways to keep your baby’s delicate skin protected from the sun, especially if they’re too young to wear sunscreen. Fortunately these baby ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) swimsuits with maximum ultraviolet (UV) protection help protect your child’s skin on those hot summer days (and yes, even on the cloudy ones).

About the experts

Here, Romper spoke to two medical experts: Dr. Jessica Madden, a board-certified pediatrician, neonatologist, lactation consultant, and Medical Director of Aeroflow Breastpumps; and Miami-based pediatrician, Dr. Mona Amin.

What is UPF clothing?

Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) is a marker of how much UV radiation is able to reach skin through fabric. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, a UPF 50 fabric blocks 98% of the sun’s rays, allowing just 2% (1/50th) to penetrate.

These days, it’s easy to find clothing with UPF tags, but you can also assess a garment yourself to determine how effective they may be in protecting skin from the sun. “When you are choosing sun- safe clothing, look for clothes with a tight weave,” Amin says. “This means that if you hold it up to the sun, little light comes through the weaves. The more light that comes through, the more sun gets in. UPF clothing works because of the way it’s weaved and the material doesn’t allow as much UV rays through the fabric and onto the skin.”

If you’re unsure of the UPF, hold an article of clothing up to the light to see how much it shines through. Note that UPF does wear off after a while, generally around 40 or so washes, so hand-me-down UPF bathing suits may not hold up over time.

Can babies wear sunscreen?

Both pediatricians interviewed for this story said that because they have such sensitive skin, it’s best if babies under 6 months old do not wear sunscreen. Instead they should be kept out of the sun as much as possible.

Instead of slathering your infant in sunblock, Amin recommends using an umbrella, tree, or stroller canopy to cover the baby. “Try to avoid being outside during peak sun. Put on a brimmed hat that protects their delicate face, ears, and neck,” she tells Romper, adding that sun protection is important even on cloudy or overcast days.

Madden tells Romper that “per the American Academy of Pediatrics, if you must apply sunscreen to a young infant, use it on small areas of the body, like the face. If a baby is 6 months of age or older you can apply sunscreen all over, you just need to be careful applying it around the eyes and mouth.” She says that while babies under 6 months old shouldn’t really need UPF clothing (because they shouldn’t be in direct sun anyway) “putting babies 6 month and older in UPF 50+ clothing is an excellent way to protect against harmful ultraviolet rays. If you decide to use UPF clothing/bathing suits for your baby or child, make sure to carefully sunblock all exposed parts of the skin, which might not be covered by UPF clothing, including the tops of the ears, hands, and feet.”

What to look for when shopping for UPF clothing

The UPF number (which is not the same as SPF) should be very clearly stated on the tag or in the product’s description. Note that in order to qualify for The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation, fabric must have a UPF of at least 30. Their website says, a “UPF of 30 to 49 offers very good protection, while UPF 50+ rates as excellent.” Look for a UPF of ideally 50 or close to 50 in a print and style your kid will actually wear (because if they pull off the UPF clothing it totally defeats the point).

We only include products that have been independently selected by Romper's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

1

A two-piece swimsuit from Amazon Essentials that dries super fast

Materials: Quick-dry knit fabric

UPF Rating: 50

You don’t have to spend a ton of money to get a quality UV protective swimwear for your baby. This baby rash guard with matching bottom has UPF 50 sun protection and it’s quick-dry so your little one won’t have to sit in a wet bathing suit for long. It comes in other prints too including stars, watermelon, and a mostly solid option with a few pineapples. Skip the dryer (as with most bathing suits) to avoid shrinkage.

Review: “The fabric feels thick enough to hold up to beach trips and protect from the sun but also thin enough to not be too hot, really great quality and super cute!”

2

A UPF suit & sun hat combo that has all your bases covered

Material: 80% nylon and 20% spandex

UPF Rating: 50+

With over 3000 reviews, this cute bathing suit and sun hat set is a customer favorite. The UPF hat helps to block even more sun, and both the one-piece suit and the sun hat will dry quickly. There’s a half zip up the back that makes this style easier to wriggle on and off, and this one is lined, so leaky diapers are no biggie. It’s available in tons of great prints too.

Review: “My son is 7 months, about 18 lbs and I purchased the 6-9 month size (a size up from what he's in now) thinking it would be big enough to use through the summer. The suit fits really well (a bit small), easy on and off. The back has an extra piece of fabric enclosure on the zipper on the back so there's no issue with the zipper on the skin or neck which I love. The pants fit to about the knee depending on height. Overall great buy.”

3

A two-piece suit from RuffleButts that comes in a variety of prints

UPF Rating: 50+

Keep it classic in pastel stripes with this cute two piece baby swimsuit from RuffleButts. It has a UPF rating of 50+ with cute ruffly details on the hem and the bottom, and it’s available in several fun prints. The nice thing about a two piece is that pool or beachside diaper changes are a whole lot easier when you don’t have to wriggle off a one-piece rash guard or bathing suit. This is made of a high quality, thick material that’s still breathable.

Review: “This fits my toddler perfectly. We go swimming almost every day and it hasn't shrunk in the wash yet. I only wash it in the machine and let it air dry so that might be a contributing factor.”

4

A long-sleeved rash guard with a cute whale print from YOBAAF

Materials: 82% polyester/ 18% spandex

UPF Rating: 50+

Have a whale of a good time at the beach with this baby rash guard from YOBAAF Choosing a long-sleeve UPF rash guard really cuts down on the amount of SPF you need to put on your baby. This printed bathing suit also has longer shorts plus a half zip at the neck to make it a little easier to get on and off (no wriggling their heads through a small opening).

Review: “I purchased this for my little one for when we go out on the boat. I needed something that would protect her from the sun, not overheat her, and also be great for swimming. This did all of that. My only complaint: the legs were not as long as I expected. They came to mid calf on my seven month old girl. It wasn’t a big deal though, and it was a lot less skin to worry about.”

5

A protective ruffled one-piece from Gerber

Materials: Poly/ Spandex Tricot

UPF Rating: 50+

When life gives you lemons, take your baby to the beach or kiddy pool in this sweet lemon swimsuit from Gerber. The fabric has UPF 50+ fabric, and there’s a bow and ruffle detail at the waist. This one is available in other cute prints, just note there aren’t snaps at the crotch, so diaper changes may be more time consuming.

Review: “Bought this so baby could have her first dip in a kiddie pool. She was about 6 months and maybe around 15-16 pounds and it fit snuggly but comfortably. Cute design, pretty easy to get on and peel off.”

6

A baby swim trunk with elastic waist from Coolibar

Materials: Aqua Plus Lite fabric

UPF Rating: 50+

There’s something undeniably adorable about a baby wearing swim trunks. This brushstroke tropical print swim bottom from Coolibar has a UPF 50+ weave plus a mesh lining to keep diapers where they should be. It’s available in several cute prints including stripes or starfish and the drawstring is just for show. The light woven fabric has a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish, which causes water to bead and roll off the surface. For ultimate protection, consider a rash guard on top.

Review:Very nice fabric, feels great and they are longer to cover those precious knees.”

7

A one-piece from Ruffle Butts with snaps to make diaper changes easy

Material: 80% Nylon / 20% Spandex

UPF Rating: 50+

This slightly retro floral printed one-piece from RuffleButts has UPF50+ sun protection and it’s made of nylon and spandex, so it’s best to hand wash this inside out and with cold water. During long days at the beach or pool, you’ll be thankful for the three snaps that make diaper changes a breeze; plus, there’s also a half zip up the back so it’s easier to get on and off when you need to. And yes, as the brand name suggests, this does have pink ruffles on the butt, and is available in other prints if florals aren’t your thing.

Review: “My daughter is 5 months and 15 lbs and I did decide to get the 6-12 months. It fits almost perfectly with a very small amount of room for growth. I'm glad I got the next size because she would not have fit in the smaller size. I love the snap bottoms.”

8

A hooded UPF long-sleeved onesie from Amazon that covers just about everything

Materials: Aqua Juno Four-Way Stretch Fabric

UPF Rating: 50+

Take sun protection seriously in this long-sleeved, long-pants hooded swimsuit from Coolibar. The UPF 50+ fabric is chlorine and saltwater-resistant, so it will stay in tip top shape. Mercifully, there are snaps up the legs so diaper changes are no biggie, and it’s available in a couple of equally cute mixed prints.

User Review: “Love this suit. Running a little small lengthwise on my long 6 month old (fits now but we're definitely not making it to 12 months on the 6-12 size). Other than that, the perfect swimsuit for a boy this size. Fairly easy to get in and out of. Best part is the limited need for sunblock.”

9

A gender-neutral rash guard with UPF 40+ from Tea

Materials: 80% nylon, 20% spandex

UPF Rating: 40+

You can always count on kids' clothing brand, Tea, to deliver cheerful, cool prints that are easy to spot. Your little one will stand out in this UPF 40+ rash guard in a summery, yellow and gray striped print. This UPF rash guard for babies is made of a quick drying material (so they won’t be shivering after coming out of the water) and it’s best to hand-wash and lay flat to dry. The longer zip means it’s easy to get on and off too.

Review: “I’ve always loved Tea’s quality of swimsuits. Their swimsuits don’t fall apart in the wash, and don’t pill very easily.”

With so many great options for keeping your little one safe from the sun, you’re sure to have a blast this summer. Just be sure to hit the beach or the pool in a UPF swimsuit or rash guard for babies.

Experts:

Dr. Jessica Madden, a board-certified pediatrician, neonatologist, lactation consultant, and medical director of Aeroflow Breastpumps

Dr. Mona Amin, Miami-based pediatrician

This article was originally published on