All kids, regardless of their gender, need essentially the same things from a bathing suit: comfort, protection from the sun, and a garment that won’t get in the way as they dig, splash, swim, and otherwise mess around

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But few kids bathing suits, particularly those made for girls, deliver on all these fronts. Too often, girls’ suits look like scaled-down versions of women’s bathing suits, designed to highlight body parts that don’t exist.

Setting aside the weirdness of that, these kinds of bathing suits are just plain impractical. (What parent wants to spread sunblock across a complicated lattice of strings or cut-outs? Why put a skimpy bikini bottom over a diaper?) They ride up or fall down, limit mobility, allow sand into unfavorable places, and provide little to no sun protection. Boys’ suits tend to be better suited for playing, but can be annoyingly long and baggy, and come in a narrow variety of hyper-masculine colors and patterns.

The best kids bathing suits fall somewhere in the middle, providing coverage, comfort, and sun protection in prints that are universally loved and easily passed down from one kid to another, regardless of where they are on the gender spectrum. As a plus, many have ratings of 50 UPF, or ultraviolet protection factor. (Most clothing provides some level of protection against the sun, but as Cleveland Clinic dermatologist Dr. Alok Vij has said, clothing with a 50 UPF rating provides 10 times as much sun protection as the average shirt.) When kids wear one of these suits, they’re free to run around the beach without having to think about what they’re wearing.

Best Kids Bathing Suit Bottoms






Rainbow Swim Shorts by Primary



The rare gender-neutral bottom, these swim shorts are made from mostly recycled materials, are fully lined, and provide 50 UPF sun protection. All of Primary's swim suits are OEKO-TEX certified, meaning they're free of over 300 irritating chemicals, and the whole collection is mix and match, so misplacing one piece won't render another useless.



BUY NOW $18.00








Tangerine Swim Shorts by Minnow



These shorts run on the shorter and more fitted side, so they won't weigh kids down when they're swimming. Plus they're fully lined, for extra comfort and coverage.



BUY NOW $45.00








Swim Shorts by Lands' End



These swim shorts are made from bathing suit material but look more like sports shorts, a design that many kids are already comfortable with. They provide UPF 50, have an elastic waist under the mock drawstring, and a bikini-shaped liner.



BUY NOW $18.00








Capri Shorts by Lison Paris



Neither short nor long, these board shorts are substantial without veering into baggy territory.



BUY NOW $60.00








Bayberry Swim Shorts by Fair Harbor



These adorable swim shorts are lined with a soft boxer brief like material, which minimizes chafing. They're also made from recycled water bottles.



BUY NOW $48.00








Pink Striped Swim Bottoms by The Animal Observatory



Cut short but not too narrowly, these board shorts have a unique fit that provides decent coverage without bulk.



BUY NOW $90.00








Bathing Suit Leggings by Boden



For kids who prefer a longer fit, these legging-like bathing suit bottoms hit below the knee, but stay close to the skin for easy movement and minimal waterlogged-ness.



BUY NOW $20.00








Coral Swim Shorts by Boden



These boy-short style swim bottoms can go over a one-piece or be worn on their own. They're machine-washable, too.



BUY NOW $20.00








Rainbow Swim Shorts by Boden



These swim shorts have a polyester lining and a drawstring for extra comfort. UPF protection of 50+ doesn't hurt, either.



BUY NOW $20.00








Brushed Flora Board Short by Mod50



The board short style combined with the bright floral print of these bottoms makes them fit for just about anyone. They provide UPF 50 and have a mesh lining and pockets for collecting shells and lugging around toys.



BUY NOW $48.00








Citron Blossom Board Short by Minnow



Up through size 9, these board shorts have a shorter style, setting them apart from the baggy, knee-length board shorts that are so popular but so poorly suited for running around. While bigger sizes are a bit longer, they still hit above the knee.



BUY NOW $56.00


Best Kids Bathing Suit Tops






Citron Blossom Rashguard by Minnow



The sunny print on this short-sleeved rash guard matches the aforementioned board shorts. It can double as a regular shirt on indoor days.



BUY NOW $50.00








Short-Sleeve Rash Guard by Primary



This short sleeve rash guard is one of those basics your kid will wear all summer. It comes in eight colors and six sizes, provides UPF 50, and is incredibly affordable, so you might as well order a few while you're at it.



BUY NOW $16.00








Rainbow Rash Guard by Primary



This sweet striped rash guard comes in two sleeve lengths and provides 50 UPF sun protection. It's soft, made of thick, quality fabric, and doubles as a regular shirt on the way to the beach.



BUY NOW $24.00








Rash Guard by Hanna Andersson



For kids who prefer a looser fit, this rash guard falls like a big T-shirt. It dries quickly and goes easy on sensitive skin.



BUY NOW $36.00








Tunic Rash Guard by Gili's



Featuring a tunic-style hemline, this blue and red rash guard looks more refined than sporty.



BUY NOW $65.00








Half-Zip Rash Guard by Snapper Rock



The classic rash guard gets a stylish makeover with the addition of flared short sleeves, a half zipper, and cinched sides with a beaded tie.



BUY NOW $42.00








Striped Cropped Rash Guard by Feather 4 Arrow



This fun cropped option hits above the belly button and features a side tie for extra style.



BUY NOW $42.00








Rainbow Swim Top by Primary



While this top leans admittedly towards the feminine side, it's blatant non-offensiveness warranted it a spot. Finally, a bathing suit top that looks like it was made for a kid.



BUY NOW $14.00


Best Bathing Suits for Babies






Mali Swimsuit by Ollie + Squish



This jumpsuit approach to swimwear leaves only a kid's legs and face exposed, making sunscreen application about as easy as possible. It's also made from recycled materials, and provides UV 50 sun protection. This one-piece is available for bigger kids, too.



BUY NOW $60.00








Rash Guard Suit by Hanna Andersson



Long sleeves plus short shorts provide good sun protection and maximum mobility. This lemon covered suit runs from 0-3 months up to 3 years and is currently on sale, down from $35.



BUY NOW $27.00








Rash Guard One Piece by Minnow



This simple, straightforward one piece is basically a rash guard with shorts attached. It's easy to get on and off, and universally cute.



BUY NOW $62.00








Long-Sleeve One-Piece Bathing Suit by Snapper Rock



The front zipper and snaps at the hem of this suit make diaper changes and getting it on and off easy. The timeless navy-and-white striped pattern means you can pass it down from one sibling to another, regardless of gender.



BUY NOW $50.00








Neutral Swim Set by H&M



This understated swimsuit looks like a daytime lounge set, but is made from stretchy UPF 50 fabric. The shorts have an elastic waist for extra comfort and easy changes.



BUY NOW $23.00








Rainbow Stripe One-Piece Rash Guard by Primary



This bright, rainbow-striped one-piece has snap closures for easy diaper changes, leaves little skin exposed to the sun, and provides UPF 50 sun protection to the rest.



BUY NOW $28.00








Dinosaur Surf Suit by Boden



This zip-up one-piece provides more sun protection than your average bathing suit, thanks to its sizeable surface area, ensuring your kid won't come home with a keyhole or criss-cross-shaped sunburn.



BUY NOW $47.00








Striped Swim Set by Pacific Rainbow



This playful set includes bikini-style bottoms, a short-sleeved rash guard, and a hat. The high-necked top and hat provide extra sun protection.



BUY NOW $95.00



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