Many babies spend their summers running around naked as a Jaybird, but when it's time to hit the beach, parents often decide to cover up their little ones. There are a few things that are important when you're buying a suit; some are necessary, like sun protection, while others are just nice to have, like easy access to diaper changes.
UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor and is different than SPF, which is found in sunscreen. UPF is specific to clothing and is a special dye that is placed in the clothing during the manufacturing process. UPF does not take the place of SPF and almost all baby swimwear now carries a UPF rating.
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Easy Access to Diapers
Diapers are an inevitable inconvenience when it comes to baby swimsuits. It doesn't matter if you use disposable swim diapers or reusable swim diapers; they all have to be changed. And let's face it, pulling a wet, sandy swimsuit off a baby just to change a diaper is absolutely no fun.
There are several features on a baby swimsuit that can offer easy access to dirty diapers.
- A full zipper: often found on one-piece surf suits like those offered through Mini Boden (Compare Prices) are nice.
- A snap between the legs: this feature can be found on a full surf suit with long sleeves, like these offered from UV Sungear (starting in size 6 months) or a more traditional suit like those that SnapMe Swimwear offers.
A Rash Guard
Many styles of baby bathing suits now come with a rash guard, which is a t-shirt or long-sleeved shirt style top that covers everything from the neck to the waist. Rash guards originated in the surfing world to protect surfers from irritation caused by their wetsuits. Rash guards are made with swimsuit material, provide UPF protection, and also protect babies skin from sand and other irritants.
A Good Baby Bathing Suit Coverup
There's a plethora of suits out there, including itty-bitty bikinis, which are cute, but don't necessarily offer the best sun protection. And yes, you can slather your baby in sunscreen, but I'm definitely of the belief that more coverage is better, especially since just one bad sunburn in childhood can increase the risk of developing melanoma as an adult. Baby swimsuit cover-ups come in cotton and terry cloth, and often come with UPF, like the cover ups made by Patagonia Kids (Compare Prices).
This seems like a no-brainer, I realize. But swimsuits can be hard to buy because they stretch like crazy, and they sag like no other when they're wet. If you buy a suit with a rash guard shirt, this isn't as big of a problem because you don't have to worry about the suit falling off. However, if you choose to purchase a more traditional suit and a coverup, if you buy the suit too small, the straps may make your baby uncomfortable. And that's no good.
Ideally, your child will be willing to try on the bathing suit before you buy it, but if not, you should be able to comfortably slip a finger under the straps to ensure a good fit. Also make sure the elastic of the bottoms is not digging into your baby's skin; it's okay to purchase a different size top and bottom; in fact, it's not uncommon to do it that way. Babies are no different than adults when it comes to body shape.
Learn More About Baby Sizing.