Kids’ wetsuits are like magic for children who spend a lot of time in the water — whether they’re in a swim class, swimming or boogie boarding at the beach, or splashing around with friends in an inflatable pool. Wetsuits make cold water temperatures more comfortable, which gives kids the chance to play all day in the water without complaining. (They’ll still complain, just hopefully not about being cold.)
While they may be a pain to put on and take off, wetsuits do a lot of good. Wetsuits for kids are made of a rubber and nylon called neoprene, which has a natural buoyancy, making it easier for kids to float. (It’s important to note that wetsuits aren’t safe to be used as floatation devices.) The material also helps protect kids from scraping themselves on something in the water or being stung by a jellyfish, from the sun’s harmful UV rays, and from sand getting in all the places. Plus, wetsuits are just cool, especially if your child is all about that surfer vibe.
There are several types of wetsuits that vary in style, material, body coverage, design, and thickness (with 3mm providing more thickness than 2mm) — it can be a bit overwhelming. We spoke to Marion Clark, Beach Programs Director for Surf Academy and The Surf Bus Foundation in Southern California, and she has some great tips for finding the right wetsuit for your kids.
“Wetsuits for children come in similar styles and thickness as adult suits: tank bodysuits, short sleeves/short legs (spring suits), and traditional full suits,” Clark told Scary Mommy. “The best kids’ suits will have easier entry/exit strategies like velcro at the shoulders and zippers at the ankles. If a child doesn’t like tight things going over their head, a back zip wetsuit is better than a chest zip or zipperless wetsuit.”
As far as figuring out the right size, Clark highly recommends referencing size charts when available. “If a child fits into the weight category of one size and the height of another, then consider how your kiddo fits into jeans,” Clark said. “Neoprene stretches to fit and it should be snug or it won’t keep your child as warm as intended. If you have a child that is a ball of muscles, go with the height over the weight. If you have a slender kiddo, go with the weight over the height.”
Best Youth & Kids Wetsuits
Parents love this highly rated wetsuit because it keeps their kids warm and is totally affordable. Kids love it because it’s comfortable and flexible and comes in several cool colors. Choose from wetsuits that are full body, shorty, or long sleeves with shorts in a variety of thicknesses. All the styles have a back zipper design with a long strap to promote independence. The sizes range from XS to 3XL, which is equivalent to 2T all the way to size 14. One reviewer wrote, “These wetsuits are well insulated and well-made. They allowed the kids to play in the water for hours on end without getting cold!”
Durability is key when choosing a wetsuit, and this one gets the job done. It has a zipper on the side, making it easy to pull up and down, and it has a velcro strap at the top to help secure the zipper — which is great, because constantly re-zipping your child’s wetsuit doesn’t make for a fun time. The main part of the wetsuit is 3mm thick with the arms and sides at 2mm. The company also offers full body wetsuits for colder temperatures. They come in black, navy, or black and red in sizes 4 to 14.
If a name brand wetsuit is important to you, this one from O’Neill is a solid choice — even though it’s on the pricier side. This full body suit is a mix of 3mm and 2mm thickness, allowing for flexibility while in the water. According to parent reviews, the wetsuit has a back zipper pull, making it easy enough for kids to pull on themselves. A velcro strap keeps the zipper in place so it doesn’t come unzipped and water doesn’t leak inside. It comes in six colors and is available in sizes 4 to 16.
Lemorecn sells both shorty and full body wetsuits for kids in 2mm. This one has a 50+ UV shield and a pull-on zipper in the back. It’s available in sizes 4 to 16 and comes in several color options. According to reviews, the wetsuit runs small, so check the size chart and consider ordering up a size if needed. You want it to be snug, but a little room to grow is always nice.
Best Toddler Wetsuits
A high quality wetsuit at half the price of name brand companies. So, if you’re buying on a budget, this 2.5mm wetsuit is a great option. It comes in both shorty and full body in three colors. It’s available in size small (2T to 3T) to XXL (7 to 8). One reviewer wrote, “The material is very high quality. Bought these for my children for the Great Wolf Lodge and they loved it.”
If your little ones get super cold during swim class or playing in the pool, they’ll appreciate this 2mm full body wetsuit. It has an anatomical fit, which allows for movement and comfort, and a back zipper means curious fingers won’t be able to take it off without help. Designed for toddlers and slender kids, the wetsuit is available in size 1 to 6 and comes in four colors. One reviewer wrote, “Before we purchased the wetsuit, my son would be shivering with blue lips within ten minutes of the lesson. He is extremely skinny with zero body fat! The first day with the wetsuit he swam for an hour and could have stayed in longer.”
Syncro is a fancy word that means extra stretchy neoprene material that gives full mobility. It also increases warmth and is lighter to wear. In other words, this 1.5mm syncro wetsuit from Roxy is ideal for toddlers who just need a little bit of warmth to be more comfortable in the water. The water temperature recommendation is for 70°F to 73°F, but it works well for warmer temperatures too. Just depends on how cold your kiddo gets. It comes in sizes 2T and 3T.
This wetsuit is for the littlest littles. It comes in sizes 6 to 12 months, 12-18 months, and 18-24 months. It’s perfect for babies and toddlers who are getting comfortable in the water and just learning to swim. The fabric is chlorine and salt resistant, which doesn’t meant your kiddo won’t still smell like a pool when they get out, but it’ll at least help protect their sensitive skin. Amazon reviewers recommend buying the size that’s right for your child’s weight, not their age.