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Summer is h-e-r-e, ladies, and with it comes tons of fun stuff: Lots of outdoor time, days spent splashing in the backyard pool or water table, yummy ice cream treats, and… too much sun exposure, overheating-induced meltdowns, and bringing the whole beach home with you no matter how hard you try to shake out that beloved beach towel. YAY. And while we can’t help with any of the above (sorry Charlie), we can help mitigate the inevitable battles over kids’ sunscreen applications.
You see, the key is in the outfit — stock your toddlers’ closets with boys and girls swimwear and rash guard sets that provide sun protection and make them look like teeny tiny surfers (so stinking cute), and you’ll have less area to cover with that white sunblock cream they hate so much for no apparent reason. We’re considering these essentials, for boys and girls AND mom and dad because there is nothing worse (or more damaging) than sunburn. These are actual clothing pieces with UPF 50 built-in.
No more worries when your LO spends a sunny day at the beach or does laps on your family’s inflatable water slide. Read on for our favorite boys rash guards and girls rash guards— each looks adorable and function beautifully. And for rash guards for women and men, check out that list, too.
Do toddlers need rash guards?
Rash guards are an excellent idea for toddlers and little kids, especially, because they offer extra coverage from the sun (which can easily burn that delicate skin). Pair it with a shady sun hat, and don’t forget the beach towels!
Is a rash guard a swimsuit?
Yes, they’re essentially fuller-coverage swimsuits. Some come in shirt-and-short sets while others are unitard-style with long sleeves on top and a classic bathing suit cut on the bottom.
Now, scroll on for our favorite picks that your water babies will want to wear all summer!
Best Toddler Girl Rash Guard Swimsuits
This rash guard swimsuit set is top-rated on Amazon. With over 2,000 reviews, parents are raving about the style, the quality, and the UV protection. Some parents recommend sizing up with this set.
One Reviewer Says: “Absolutely love these!!! My mom has a sand beach that my daughter is constantly playing on and this suit keeps sand out of all the places you want it to stay out of!! It also never rides up and shows her rear like most little girls' swimsuits. And with the t-shirt top, I never have to worry about her little shoulders getting sunburnt. Functionality is 5 stars! And cuteness is 5 stars as well!! She looks like a little surfer girl. And can't beat the price!”
And speaking of keeping your little ones’ skin safe, it’s always a good idea to consider sun protection when you’re picking their clothing out for the summer. This UPF 50+ swim tee has RAVE reviews from happy customers. These suits are available in a wide variety of prints, and fit kids between the ages of two and 16, so you can easily get matching sets for siblings.
One Reviewer Says: “My little one got a bad burn on her shoulders but still wanted to swim. Purchased this shirt for her and she loves it. The colors are vibrant and it washes well. She is seven and usually wears a 10/12 so bought a size L(12). It is loose but she does not like ‘snug’ clothing so it is good for her. Length is ok, too.”
We’re firm believers that there are two types of girl parents in this world: first, the type who embrace all things bows and ruffles and ribbons and pinks, and, second, (though no less legitimate), the more subtle, muted-color-friendly (read: neutrals, galore!) type. And while neither is right or wrong, if you fall into the second category, you may want to opt for this seersucker suit. Of course, there are plenty of other varieties to choose from that you can’t really go wrong.
One Reviewer Says: “The ‘Easter Bunny’ brings this swimsuit every year for my kids. Two-piece, long-sleeved, perfect protection, and easy on and off for potty breaks. The fabric quality is far superior over name-brand box stores... I would purchase this swimsuit in a matching fabric if it came in my size!”
Best Toddler Boy Rash Guard Swimsuits
Here’s the thing about a short-sleeved rash guard: It doesn’t protect the lower portion of the arm, sure, but it’s so damn versatile, it can be worn when the temps are in the 70s just as well as when the temps are in the 90s. Plus, this perfect aqua blue color is, basically, everything we dream of to keep our littles looking gorge and making them just totally irresistible to kiss and hug and smooch, because what kid doesn’t love being smothered in parental love during a beach day with friends? Embarrassment and family fun in the sun, check, check, check.
One Reviewer Says: “I got this for my son who's 16 years old, who normally wears adult size Small. It fits him well and he loves the color and the design. It's a good-looking rashguard. The navy blue sides [are] a good touch so it's not just[a] vanilla simple white shirt. It did a good job [of] preventing sunburns on this shoulders and body.”
If your little guy or gal has declared themselves an official beach bum, don’t fight it — embrace it. In fact, go all “You can be anything you want to be, Kevin!” on it. Just be sure to get them the right gear, too. And what screams surfer dude or dudette more than Quiksilver? This long-sleeved rash guard will keep them looking all Kelly Slater-fly, even if their skills are less than pro-level. And while it *may* be smart to rent a board until they’ve figured out if the wave life is really for them, you can rest assured they’ll get a ton of wear out of a staple swim tee like this one, even if it’s more dig-in-the-sand than ride-the-waves.
One Reviewer Says: “I bought it for my 4yrs old son. He loved! It’s super cute and the quality is great!”
Your little beach bum will have full protection in this rash guard set from MiYang. You’ll also have a choice between this navy and yellow fish design, or seven other options including sharks, fish, waves and more. Not only is this one cute, but it’s also well made.
One Reviewer Says: “My son loves this suit. My favorite part is the swim cap...I have never seen one like this! The cap is made of fabric, not rubber, my son has long hair and does not like to put it up..it gets caught in his goggles and falls in his face when he tries to swim. This cap helped with all of that! The suit is well made and cute!!”
When it comes to getting kids dressed, sometimes it’s easiest to get them excited about the process, even if it’s just for the little (and we mean tiny) things. Our go-to move? Purchasing practical items that make them feel like superheroes (or, in this case, big and brave and scary alligators). This adorable trunks-and-rash-top combo will keep them protected from the sun, and warm when they get out of the pool. Plus, they’re made by Carter’s, so you know it’s high-quality stuff.
One Reviewer Says: “We recently went to the beach for a fun family weekend. Unfortunately, our sunscreen failed us. Everyone except my little man was burnt to a crisp! While my little guy did get burned on his face and feet - clothes kept him safe from the sun (and squatting to dig in the sand protected the bottom of his legs). I am so thankful to Carters for offering solid SPF swim clothing for a reasonable price.”
In the age of Marie Kondo, some mamas are all about the #keepitsimple and #keepitminimal life. And while, ahem, some of us can’t commit to spring cleaning anything in our lives (be it our kitchen, our basement, or our kids’ closets), we don’t judge. If this sounds like you, then basic, solid-color swim gear serves perfectly. You can mix and match pieces, and stock their drawers with basic pieces that will stand the test of time (both fashionably and practically). Kanu Surf comes through for us with a long-sleeved, well-priced option that comes in a huge array of colors to suit any aesthetic you’re curating for your mini.
One Reviewer Says: “I absolutely love this shirt! My son was getting a sunburn in the pool despite wearing two layers of sunscreen and reapplying every 80 minutes. I bought this shirt because I was desperate to find something to protect him. It fit perfectly, matched his swim trunks, and covers him from his neck down to the palms of his hands. He hasn't had a sunburn since I got the shirt in the mail.”
Best Toddler Long Sleeve Swimsuits
Looking for a long-sleeve suit for a toddler? This one may be the perfect fit. Available in multiple colors and prints, the Merqwadd suit is made of 100% spandex, and has a zipper closure to easily put on. This one’s available for kids up to the ages of six and seven. While this one doesn’t seem to have any SPF benefits, it’s very cute and customers love the thickness of the fabric.
One Reviewer Says: “It is such a good fit though with plenty of room for diaper and even to grow. Will probably buy in another color for our summer vacation. My 14month old looks too cute in this!”
Looking for something with far more UV coverage? This long sleeved kids bathing suit from TFJH E is a real winner when it comes to blocking harmful rays. The protection comes from the weave of the fabric, and not due to added chemicals, meaning it’s a suit you can feel good about. With plenty of patterns to choose from (including one with adorable swans on it) your kids will have a hard time choosing which one they want this summer.
One Reviewer Says: “My daughter initially got the idea of having a long sleeved swim suit after her friend got one. I was a bit worried that it would be too hot. However, I was proven to be incorrect! This is her favorite swim suit! She wears it most frequently and I love that I don't have to worry about applying and reapplying sunscreen to her shoulders all day.”
This unisex rash guard has a zipper for easy dressing (and swim diaper changes) and is great at protecting kids in the sun. In fact, aside from the wide variety of colors and patterns, that was one of the top things parents love about this suit. When it’s on, you can worry a little less about burns.
One Reviewer Says: “The best sun protection swim suit for my sweet baby boy. It doesn’t rub and is soft on his sweet skin. And he just looks so cute in it.”
Sometimes, a little bit of character recognization is the only thing kids need to be excited over a new suit. For the Paw Patrol fan in your life, this set includes a long sleeved rash guard and mesh-lined trunks. And for parents? It’s machine washable. Toss it in there after your beach vacation and rest easy.
One Reviewer Says: “My three year old son loves his paw patrol swimsuit. It is well made and runs just a little big compared to his swimsuit from target which is a size 5T also. He’s currently about 44 lbs. hope this helps with sizing.”
And since summer really does feel never-ending sometimes, shop more of our kids summer picks here!
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