The Best Swimsuits for Kids (2024)

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By Youngna Park

The Best Swimsuits for Kids (1)

Photo-Illustration: Courtesy of the retailer

When it comes to swimsuits for kids, there are a few big factors to consider, including fit, the level of sun protection, and — of course — the style. Do you have a kid who loves frills and ruffles? Or does your child prefer a silhouette that gets them as close to nude as possible? Cuts and prints vary widely, and just like for adult swimwear, finding a style that matches your kid’s frame and fashion preferences can help them focus more on the swimming and less on the suit while in the water.

Swimsuits get caked with sand and sunscreen, stuffed in bags, soaked in chlorine and saltwater, and rolled up in beach towels, so finding one that dries quickly, holds up to repeat wear, and doesn’t pill too easily from sitting on the pool deck are important qualities. For younger kids especially, you’ll want suits that are easy to put on (and take off), too.

I talked to designers, editors, photographers, creative directors, people who live near the beach, and lots and lots of parents to learn about the best suits for the season. I also queried my very opinionated 5- and 7-year-old kids about their own swim attire. The good news is that you can mix and match a lot of these recs, then add in goggles, sunglasses, and a hat for a great beach fit.

One-pieces, two-pieces, and separates

Long-sleeved suits and rash guards have become increasingly popular because they offer all-day sun protection — and they’re useful in preventing arm-chafing on kids still wearing floaties or swimming vests. As a result, there are more styles of swimsuits to pick from than ever before with many brands offering the same colors and prints across a range of one-pieces, two-pieces, trunks, and mix-and-match separates.

For a versatile one-piece at a great price point, Courtney Klein, the CEO of Storq and a San Francisco–based parent of a 9- and 6-year-old, recommends City Threads’ suits. “This is the workhorse of my daughter’s swimsuit collection. It’s durable, reliable, and holds up amazingly well. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve put this swimsuit through its paces, and it still looks and feels as good as new,” she says of the UPF 50+ suit, which is a blend of polyester and spandex. You can stock up on multiples if your kids are frequent swimmers or get a few of the many solid colors and patterns for rotating during the summer. The suit comes in sizes for kids of all ages, from as young as 9 months to 16 years old.

Primary, a go-to for many bright basics in my own kids’ wardrobe, has expanded its sunny-season options over the years. “I love that Primary’s one-piece suits are so affordable,” says Angela Tafoya, a design and lifestyle editor, the founder of Noomoon, and a mom of two kids, ages 7 and 1. “The prints are simple and stylish, too, like this Matisse-esque daisy one,” she says of the one-piece style with cross-back straps that her daughter has worn in past seasons. Like the City Threads suits, Primary’s swimwear also offers UPF 50 protection. It comes in sizes 2T to 12, multiple styles and cuts, and a full rainbow of colors.

Primary’s daisy print is also a Strategist staff favorite. Senior writer Liza Corsillo recommends the one-piece baby rash guard, which she got in blue for her 6-month-old son’s first summer. It offers nearly full-body sun coverage, and the front zip makes it easy to pull on. Senior editor Jen Trolio adds that her 7-year-old daughter wears Primary’s zip-up rash guard and separate bottoms in the red daisy colorway. “I always look for separates to make bathroom trips easier and prefer rash guards that have a zipper to make them easier to get on and off,” Trolio notes.

Photographer Nicki Sebastian and her family live five minutes from the ocean in L.A., so they make weekly trips to the beach. “We’re wholly obsessed with any and all Seaesta Surf swimsuits and rash guards for my girls,” she says. The Southern California–based brand makes a variety of suits that “satisfy both of my daughters’ very different needs and desires. Our 10-year-old always has a specific style vision and loves a retro vibe, wearing this gingham two-piece, while our 6-year-old simply refuses to wear anything with a tag, itchy seam, or bothersome appliqué.” Seaesta’s prints run the gamut from retro checkerboard to modern, artist-created patterns, like this print of seaside icons by artist Ty Williams. “I desperately wish it could stretch to fit me,” says Sebastian about the style her younger daughter wears.

My daughter, whose favorite one-piece is also from Seaesta, likes that the brand’s suits are made of a thicker fabric that feels more protective. The performance fabric (78 percent nylon, 22 percent spandex) is very durable, but the thickness can make the swimwear fit a bit snug, so you may want to order both your child’s usual size and a size up and compare fits.

Another hardworking suit known for its durability (and very cute prints) comes from Hanna Andersson, also famous for its pajamas and cotton basics. “The fabric is sturdy and thick (but not too thick, so they’re not hot or itchy), and we love the patterns and colors,” says Jersey City–based recipe editor, food writer, and parent of two Margaux Laskey. “I usually splurge on one Hanna suit per kid per summer, but they last through multiple seasons and multiple kids, especially if you hand-wash and air-dry.” The prints come in an array of cuts and styles, depending on your kid’s liking. “We prefer tankinis or bikinis because it makes dripping-wet trips to the bathroom much easier, and the tops and bottoms are not at all skimpy,” says Laskey. But if your kids prefer a one-piece or long-sleeved one-piece, those come in all of the same patterns as well.

New England–based swim brand Pearl Street offers mix-and-match hand-painted patterns on its suits, rash guards, and trunks, coming recommended by physical therapist and Atlanta-based mom of two Kelly Bowles. “We almost exclusively wear Pearl Street now. I love their two-piece paired with a matching rash guard when we need extra protection from the sun,” says Bowles, noting that a standout feature of the suits is their “full-bottom coverage.” She also recommends the suits for their durability, even after frequent pool trips. “Some of ours are going on being used for the third swim season and still look great,” says Bowles, who also loves the brand’s versatile gender-neutral trunks. “They take us from pool to playground so easily,” Bowles says of the shorts, which can be worn in the water but dry quickly and help save the need for a quick change between locations.

Long-sleeved one-piece suits have made a comeback in recent years, and because this style offers built-in UPF 50+ protection for the entire upper body, parents can worry less about reapplying sunscreen for longer days outside. Mollie Chen, a Brooklyn-based mom of two, principal at Acora Partners, and co-founder at Birchbox, learned about Seea’s bodysuits from her Hawaii-based family. “My aunt and cousins all love them. They are great for skin protection and very flattering with high-quality, smooth fabric.” For kids ages 12 months to 7 years old, the Sandpiper bodysuit offers the same protection and cut as the brand’s adult suits, and the Aria suit is a similar style for bigger kids.

Chen also recommends Roxy’s long-sleeved one-piece suits for girls. “They’re a real throwback to my Miami childhood, when I was obsessed with surfers,” she says of the retro-inspired patterns with a rainbow-sherbet palette. “They are supercute, and the fabric has maintained its shape with no pilling or color-fading after a lot of wear,” adds Chen of the style worn by her 6-year-old. The suits offer a zippered back for easy on-and-off, and for those who like Roxy’s prints but prefer a different style, all of the brand’s patterns come in a variety of one- and two-piece cuts.

Tea Collection also offers a long sleeved one-piece style that is perfect if your child loves a bold print. “The zip in the front makes it easy for my 6-year-old to pull on and off herself,” says Anjelika Temple, a creative director and entrepreneur with two daughters. Temple and her family have been renting a house with a pool near Barcelona for the past year, so between backyard swimming, lessons, and frequent beach trips, the suits get a lot of wear. “Long sleeves also mean less sunscreen struggles and worry!” Temple adds.

Temple’s younger daughter, who is 3, opts for ruffled bikini bottoms and a long-sleeved rash guard, also from Tea Collection, which can be mixed and matched based on your color preferences or your child’s. “She can pull things on and off herself, and it makes it super-easy to run to the bathroom when needed,” explains Temple. For the 3-year-old, “the long sleeves lend themselves better to floaties because it’s easier to get them on and off and doesn’t chafe the skin at all.”

Boden is similar to both Tea Collection and Hanna Andersson, in that it makes durable suits in bright colors and bold printsin a variety of one-pieces, two-pieces, mix-and-match separates, and swim trunks. Trolio’s elder daughter, who exclusively wears long-sleeved suits and rash guards to save time on sunscreen application, is partial to this one-piece style with a zipper in the front, which makes it easier to get on and off, especially when wet.

For a statement two-piece with a bit more flair, Tafoya’s 7-year-old daughter “is obsessed with her Mon Coeur swimsuit” and “loves the squiggle print and the bows on the bottoms.” Mon Coeur, which is committed to sustainable products, makes its swimwear from recycled polyester (and other products from recycled cotton). The two-piece offers SPF 50 protection and can be machine-washed for easy cleaning after a dunk in the pool.

Betsy Colton, the parent of an 8-year-old trans daughter, sang the praises of Rubies in our shopping guide for trans kids and teens. The brand’s swimwear collection “gives her the confidence to be in a swimsuit,” Colton says. This “shaping” one-piece is made of compression spandex and mesh with adjustable straps. It comes in two colors, black and pink, and sizes 4 to 20, with “regular” and “long” torso lengths available in sizes 14 and up.

Swim trunks

For those looking for trunks, styles and cuts vary widely, from longer board shorts to a slimmer, shorter European-style silhouette. You should consider whether your child prefers bottoms with lining, the length of their shorts, and which material they like — looser and longer board shorts tend to be made from quick-drying nylon but have less stretch than those made with a spandex blend, but the spandex can also be gentler on the skin and reduce chafing, especially if swimming in saltwater.

Andrea Cheng, a Berkeley, California–based marketing director at Airbnb, has outfitted her 5-year-old son in Liewood’s Otto Swim Pants for the past three summers. “These ones are so stinking cute, and this style comes in an array of patterns. I like to imagine he’d fit right in at some beach club in Italy, but in reality, we’re mostly hitting up splash pads and pools in the Bay Area,” she says of the shorter and more fitted European-style cut. The swim shorts offer an adjustable tie, UV protection, and ample stretch for a flexible fit.

Mori’s trunk-and-rash-guard combo for the younger set is available for babies and kids up to 4 years old. “It provides great coverage, and my 1-year-old looks SO adorable in it,” says Tafoya, whose son has the yellow seersucker pattern. The neck on the rash guard has a higher cut for extra sun protection with a zipper in the back for easily getting it over your child’s head. Like other suits, the recycled fabric lasts longer if you rinse it in fresh water after wearing.

My 5-year-old’s favorite trunks are Target’s Art Class Solid Swim Trunks, which he has in both neon orange and light blue. Both pairs were acquired in a pinch — when we found ourselves near water without a suit and we had to make emergency trips to Target — and both pairs have held up over the past two years through beach trips and very chlorinated swim lessons. The trunks include a built-in boxer-brief lining, hit his legs mid-thigh, and the polyester fabric is structured without being too stiff. I also like that the solid colors are absent any gauche branding and match pretty much any rash guard.

Lena Corwin is a parent of two boys, ages 8 and 12, and the founder of Peace Cloth, which makes beautiful towels for the beach or bath. Her elder son wears this style, which hits mid-thigh, for frequent swimming in pools, lakes, and the ocean, which is of walking distance from their home in San Francisco. J.Crew’s trunks come in a variety of prints, stripes, and florals and have a mesh lining for extra support.

Corwin’s 8-year-old son wears the Swedish brand Polarn O. Pyret’s Classic Stripe Eco Swim Trunks, which have a slim silhouette and hit higher on the thigh. “They dry quickly, don’t bunch up, and look cute on his smaller frame,” says Corwin, adding that H&M also offers a comparable style and pattern for an inexpensive backup.

Rash guards

My family has amassed a collection of rash guards over the years that, at this point, my kids automatically put on whenever they know we’re going swimming. Rash guards can vary in sleeve length and collar height, and some have zippers in the front or back that can help for getting them over large toddler heads. Finding a rash guard that feels good to your kid — and ideally doesn’t power-clash with their suit or trunks — can be a challenge, but there are an abundance of great options out there.

Started by Carly Scheck in 2020, Farewell Frances offers terrific unisex, vintage-inspired prints — such as retro florals and bold stripes — on its rash guards, trunks, and one-piece suits for kids. My daughter is a fan of the more understated Navy Daisy Rash Guard (and matching swim trunks), made of a techno fabric comprised of 100 percent recycled polyester. The material is resistant to chlorine, doesn’t absorb sunscreen, and can be machine-washed for easy care. My only complaint is that the biggest kids sizes max out at 6T, which means my family’s swim days with Farewell Frances are somewhat numbered.

Klein recommends the Eco Rib sun shirts and rash guards from Good Weekend. “They’re super-stylish with their ribbed texture and muted colors. But what’s even better is that they’re tag free, quick-drying, and I swear the ribbed design actually helps with airflow, so my kids don’t get all sweaty and uncomfortable,” she says. The shirts, which come in earthier tones and some pastels, also have a boxier fit, which my own kids prefer.

Lucilena Jones and her family live on Lopez Island in the Pacific Northwest, where they visit the beach year-round, warm or not. UV Skinz’s Zippy Long-Sleeved shirt and Active Sport Swim Tights are versatile pieces that also offer robust sun coverage. “The swim tights are awesome because they can wear them on a cooler day and stay warm while they’re playing in the sand, but if they want to go in the water, they can walk right in,” she says. The pants are quick-dry and breathable outside the water and include a small zippered pocket (for seashells or a few quarters). Jones says her three kids “started wearing rash guards because they didn’t like the feel of sunscreen, and it really simplified our beach time.” Long sleeves also help to keep sand directly off your kid’s skin, so if they’re sensitive or simply don’t love the feel of it, suits with more coverage on the arms and legs can help them stay comfortable (and keep sand out of their crotch) while at the beach.

Primary’s rash guards have been staples in my kids’ swim wardrobe since they were toddlers. They find the material unusually silky and smooth and have the striped, long-sleeved style for very sunny days, then prefer the short-sleeved style (which comes in well-priced three-packs) for swim lessons. The material, a nylon-spandex blend, is a lighter weight than some of the other brands we’ve tried, but the rash guards have retained their shape over many, many wears.

Swim accessories

While asking our experts about their swimsuit recs, many volunteered other beach-season necessities they couldn’t live without.

“I bought two of these ponchos on a whim, and they have become a must-have for our family. We take them everywhere the kids might get wet: the pool, the beach, swim lessons, camping — you name it!” Klein says. The hooded poncho can slip over a kid’s head, then function as a wearable towel and beach cover. “No more struggling with bulky towels that never seem to stay put,” adds Klein.

Trolio recommends Boden’s hooded, long-sleeved beach dresses and “throw-ons” for breezier days when the water temp is plenty comfortable —and it’s technically warm enough outside to go for a swim — but the wind makes rest periods at the pool or time spent on the beach feel unpleasantly chilly. They are thick and absorbent and make excellent cover-ups. “But definitely size up,” she advises, as the long sleeves make them harder to get on, and a little roominess comes in handy.

On hotter days, Trolio’s daughters wear these thinner terry cover-ups, which conveniently have a full zipper and are easier to get on and off over wet swimsuits and hair.

Goggles are also an important swim accessory that — at least for my kids — have led to swimming breakthroughs. Temple adds that, for her kids, “goggles have been a game changer. They are so much more comfortable in the water with goggles!” She recommends Outdoor Master’s two-pack goggles, which come in a variety of two-tone colors and have an adjustable strap to ensure a good fit.

For kids with delicate, tangle-prone hair — or who are finicky about how their goggles fit — Trolio suggests the goggles from Splash Place and Frogglez. The former replaces the typical rubber strap with a swath of stretchy fabric that is surprisingly easy to adjust and get on and off. Her daughters are now wearing theirs for their second swim season; the fabric has held up well and still keeps the goggles snug around their eyes. For an even more secure fit, especially during swim lessons, consider Frogglez, which have a neoprene strap that’s more like a harness around the back of the head. Frogglez can take a bit of getting used to and won’t fit the very smallest kids — they’re best for around age 4 and up. But once you get them adjusted, they’re comfortable to wear and don’t budge, eliminating a lot of typical goggle woes.

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The Best Swimsuits for Kids
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