Choosing the best kids swimwear for each age and stage: a comprehensive guide

If you're bringing up your children in Australia, or anywhere else near the coast, kids swimwear is going to be a key part of their wardrobe! But when it comes to choosing the best kids swimwear, it can be a minefield. There are just so many brands, and so many styles, of kids swimwear to choose from! It's tempting to think they are all much the same, but when it comes to choosing the right kids swimwear for each age and stage, you'd be surprised by the difference the right pair of bathers can make.

Here at Little Fishy Swim, we sure do spend a lot of time thinking about how the create the best kids swimwear for your little ones. So whether you're browsing baby bathers, looking for the best toddler swimwear for swimming lessons or wondering how to tell quality kids swimwear from the pack, read on. We've pulled together a complete guide to choosing the best kids swimwear for each age and stage.


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What's the best swimwear for my baby?

In my experience, the early years are those when parents fret the most about finding the best possible baby swimwear. Our chief concern? Sun safety. Did you know young babies are not supposed to wear sun screen until 6 months of age, and have incredibly sensitive skin? That makes choosing sun-protective baby swimwear absolutely critical. Whilst we've written a whole blog on choosing sun-safe baby swimwear, bear the following checklist in mind when you're next browsing baby bathers online or at the shops.

1. Choose baby swimwear with full coverage. A long-sleeve one-piece swimsuit for babies is a great choice, and if you live somewhere with a particularly high UV count, you can even find baby bathers with full legs too!

2. UPF50+ protective swimwear is a must. UPF is like SPF for fabric, and kids swimwear with this certification will stop up to 50x more of the sun's harmful rays making it through your baby's swimsuit. If the label and marketing doesn't point it out, those particular baby bathers probably don't have it. It's certainly a feature worth shouting about!

3. Accessorise your baby swimsuit with a hat, sunnies, and once they're old enough, plenty of SPF.

Plus, whilst we're on accessories don't forget about water safety, floaties are where it's at, but young babies should always be in the arms of mum and dad.

Ultimately for babies the best sun-safe swimwear is that worn under a big beach umbrella, or in the shade. Your best rule of thumb for baby sun-safety is to avoid the hottest and brightest parts of the day, especially in the middle of Summer!


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When it comes to your tiniest little water babies, temperature control is also key. We  recommend choosing baby swimwear in quick dry fabric. When baby spends too long sitting in a wet swimsuit there are increased risk of developing a chill, and swim rash to boot. 

You should also consider whether your chosen baby swimsuit that will leave your little one comfortable, as well as warm.  We love baby swimwear made in soft, double lined fabrics. We also like to check for zipper covers, and hidden seams - both of which will avoid rashes but also ensure baby's sensitive skin remains comfortable in their swimsuit for longer.

And we couldn't talk all things baby swimwear without a mention about beach-side blow outs. Besides choosing a re-usable swim nappy, we consider snap stud bottoms an essential on any baby swimsuit. This will make nappy changes by the water 10x easier, as you're not having to get your little wriggler completely out of a wet set of baby bathers when it comes to change time.


Choosing baby bathers? Read our complete guide to choosing the best baby, infant and toddler swimwear here.

Ready to shop? We've curated the most suitable swimwear for babies and toddlers from our range here.


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What's the best swimwear for my toddler?

You might be thinking that choosing the best swimwear for your toddler is kin of like choosing the best baby swimsuit, but there are a few crucial differences! If you're the parent of a toddler, you'll know taking your little one to the beach is now a whole different ball game!

Your little sand tornado is probably running along the beach, crashing head first into waves (or running full pelt away from them!). Away from the ocean, perhaps they've started getting into swimming lessons, and have begun toilet training.

Choosing the best swimwear for toddlers is all about supporting their growing independence, whilst providing comfort, durability and making days by the water that little bit easier.


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Choose toddler swimwear in a soft, stretchy fabric - one that will keep them comfortable and support them as they move every which way. And given the amount of beach-side shenanigans your sandy sweetie will get up to, the best toddler swimwear should always be durable.

That's why we love our eco-luxe Repreve fabric - it's not only made of recycled plastic bottles, but it's incredibly soft yet hardy. We've also made our toddler swimwear fully lined in the body for additional comfort and warmth, as well as covering up anything 'scratchy', like the zipper heads and teeth and inner seams.

Toilet training is an incredible rite of passage for your toddler, but it sure makes going anywhere that little bit harder, especially whilst your little one is still getting used to things. Our recommendation is to look for toddler swimwear that allows for easy changes, or that makes it very easy to get your child onto a toilet as quickly as possible. In other words - snap stud bottoms should go beyond the baby years! Additionally, an extended fabric zipper pulls, and long zip line, will make getting a wriggly toddler out of wet swimwear so much easier.



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When it comes to toddler swimming lessons, whilst your little one will certainly be more active in the pool than they once were, you'll still want to make sure their swimwear keeps them warm. Always choose a swimwear with a snug fit, and a double lining helps, although many parents still choose to layer on a light wetsuit, especially if the pool isn't warmed up. Additionally, choose toddler swimwear made in chlorine resistant fabric, if your little one spends a lot of time in the pool. It will ensure those beautiful prints don't fade so much over time.


Choosing baby bathers? Read our complete guide to choosing the best baby, infant and toddler swimwear here.

Ready to shop? We've curated the most suitable swimwear for babies and toddlers from our range here.


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Whats the best kids swimwear for ages 3 - 6?

Choosing the best kids swimwear all comes down finding the best swimsuit for each age and stage. Once you're easing out of those baby and toddler years, you might be starting to worry a little less about how your kids will fare throughout long days on the sand, and you can start to have some real fun with style.

That said, practicality is still king when you're looking to find the best kids bathers for ages 3 up. Sure, your little one might have got the hang of toilet-training, but you'll want to make sure their swimsuit is easy for them to take on and off themselves, especially when wet. That's why we swear by a kids swimsuit with extender zipper pulls, separates for boys and yes, still those snap stud bottoms (open in a rush with a single movement!).

Perhaps you'll find your kids are now starting to swim, or even lie or stand on a board, a bit more independently. Kids swimwear at this age still needs to be sun-safe, practical and comfortable for longer stretches by the pool or even out in the ocean.

Choosing a kids swimsuit in a quick-dry fabric will ensure that your sandy sweetheart is not left shivering each time they come out of the water. Meanwhile, comfortable, 'hidden seam' rash vests or long-sleeve kids swimsuits will go perfectly under a wetsuit for early forays onto a surfboard, or colder mornings at Nippers.


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Parents of slightly older children may find themselves a bit less militant when it comes to sun protection (although the stats say we shouldn't slack off on this front!), and your child may also be starting to exert a bit more influence over their personal 'style'.

Now's the age you can start to have some real fun with your kids' swimwear. But whether you're choosing some girly separates, a gorgeous little one-piece, to ditch the rashie, make sure every set of kids bathers in your beach bag comes with UPF50+ certification. Anywhere that doesn't get a regular dose of lotion, even if kept under wraps, can still be susceptible to UVA and UVB damage when the sun's harmful rays make it through the weave of the swim fabric. UPF50+ protection will stop 50x more UV rays making their way through your kids swimsuit, and so provides an essential additional line of defence in sunnier climates like Australia's.


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How do I pick the best quality kids swimwear?

We always say "buy it nice, don't buy it twice". Choosing quality kids swimwear is truly an investment that pays off in the long term, both for your wallet, and for the environment too.

Not only this, but buying quality kids bathers can can also make or break your beach day, pool day and make for a much happier relationship between your kids and the water. But how do you tell quality kids swimwear from the rest of the pack, and what are the signs you're paying for a quality product, not just a big name brand? 

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We reckon it's always worth paying more for kids bathers with features designed for additional comfort. Beach days will never be quite so long and leisurely again with little ones in tow, but the longer your kids can play happily in the sand and waves, the more of a 'day out' everyone enjoys. Cheap kids swimwear can often chafe and cause swim rash, which will quickly turn a fun day out sour, and leave its mark for a few days afterwards too.

It makes sense, but quality kids swimwear should also be built for durability. When it comes to both comfort and staying power, look out for lined fabrics, well-constructed 'hidden seams'  and thick, opaque fabrications. We love our eco-luxe Repreve fabric, it's buttery soft and incredibly hardy, making it the ideal material for quality kids bathers.


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Lastly, quality kids swimwear should make life by the water with your little ones easier, not harder! We consider UPF50+ certification on your kids swimsuit an absolute essential for sun-safety, whilst features like quick dry fabric will ensure your little ocean lover warms up fast after a spell in the water. Meanwhile, getting your sandy wriggle-monster out of their wet bathers really shouldn't be so hard. Extended zippers, with a fabric zip pull, and snap stud bottoms will make toilet breaks, nappy and general costume changes an absolute breeze.

There are lots of things to consider when finding the best quality kids swimwear, but choosing a well-engineered fabric, thoughtful construction, and paying for helpful features (not just a brand name) will definitely ensure your little water babies are well cared for each time they hit the beach.


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What's the best kids swimwear for a day on the beach?

A day on the beach is one of life's greatest pleasure here in Australia. Sure, it's not always so easy and carefree when you've little ones in tow, but believe us when we say that your kids bathers can make a huge difference to how much your children (and therefore you!) enjoy your day on the sand.

First up, let's talk sun protection. It's so important here in Australia we may have mentioned it just a few times in this guide: UPF50+ certified kids swimwear should be a non-negotiable if your little one is going to be spending long stretches under the hot Summer sun.

Consider a kids swimsuit with greater coverage too: we love a long-sleeve boys swim-set or girls swimsuit to offer some more protection from the Sun's harmful rays.


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Have you got a little ocean lover on your hands? Lucky you! Just remember, if your kids spend a lot of time coming in and out of the water, you may want to think about how their bathers help protect them from chills, especially in Spring and late Autumn when the water is fresh and there is a cooler breeze up. We swear by choosing kids swimwear in a light-weight, quick dry fabric to bring them back up to body temperature as quickly as possible. And a side benefit of kids bathers that dry quickly, is there's less opportunity for a painful swim rash to develop from wet seams on sensitive young skin.

Lastly, if you're going to be putting your kids swimsuit (and the little one wearng it!) through the rigours of the strong Australian sun, coarse sand, rock pooling, body boarding and all the rest, you're going to want to make sure those bathers are comfortable and durable.

Well-made swimwear should stand the test of a full Summer (and more!) without seams splitting, fabric thinning (sun protection alert!) and zippers snagging. It seems like a minimum requirement, but you'd be amazed how many of the cheap kids swimsuits on the market don't last a full season.


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Look for well constructed 'invisible' seams, thick fabrics (preferably with double lining, especially in key areas like the chest and bottom) and quality 'hardware' like zips and snap studs that are firmly stitched into the fabric and integrated into the lining.

Lastly, comfort just can't be overlooked when it comes to kids beach wear: happy kids = happy parents. And once you've lugged half the contents of your car down to the sand, you certainly don't want to have to turn around and leave again as soon as one of your little beach buddies complains of being cold, or that their bathers are chafing.

Soft, thick fabrics, preferably fully lined, will keep the tiniest of ocean lovers comfy and warm. We also love enclosed rather than open seams (another win for double lined kids swimsuits) and thoughtful features like encased zipper seams, functioning waistbands and snug wrist-bands.

Our range of sustainable kids swimwear has been designed to care for your little water baby, as well as the ocean they swim in. Many of our features are specifically designed to make family beach days that little bit easier. Such as our extended zipper pulls, and snap stud bottoms, to make beach-side changes an absolute breeze, plus functioning drawcords and fully lined bodies to make for a comfortable perfect fit. And of course, we'd never scrimp on UPF50+ protection across the whole range.


Read more about how your kids swimwear can make or break your beach day here.

Ready to shop kids swimwear that cares for your little ones, as well as the ocean they swim in? Check out our best-sellers here.


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What's the best kids swimwear for swimming lessons?

Kids swimming lessons are a weekly ritual for many of us families here in Australia. With 85% of us living within 50km of the coast, being able to swim is a water safety essential, but also builds the foundation for a lifetime of enjoyment of the ocean.

Your kids bathers will probably spend many an hour in the pool, alongside all those Summer trips to the beach, so its always worth considering what kids swimwear is most suitable for swimming lessons when making your purchases for the season ahead.

Whilst most kids will have their swimming lessons in a chlorinated, indoor pool, older children may also be using their bathers for ocean-based classes like Nippers, or maybe even under a wetsuit for some kids surf lessons. If your child will be taking their swimming lessons out in the open ocean, we recommend simple, comfortable pieces like a lined rash vest or long-sleeved girls swimsuit that will sit snugly under a wetsuit, prevent rubbing against a board, and allow for easy movement. Again, hidden seams and well-integrated zippers will prove essential for comfort here, as the greater the movement, the greater the risk of snags and swim rash.


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When it comes to the best swimwear for kids swimming lessons, most families will be passing over fashion forward separates like bikinis, in favour of a more functional one-piece. Whilst older children will certainly be more active in the pool, as your little one progresses out of the Mums and Bubs class, the pool they swim in is less likely to benefit from some extra heating. Hence, warmth is still a factor to consider when it comes to choosing the right bathers. That's why we still recommend choosing a kids swim set or one-piece with long sleeves, and a full lining. Remember, a snug rather than a loose fit, will also keep little bodies that bit warmer for longer, so it's always worth investing in kids swimwear that's true to size.

Lastly, whilst the UPF50+ protective treatment might be less of an essential feature for indoor use (although I'll bet that same kids swimsuit is headed to the beach!) there's another treatment you might want to keep an eye out for. The chlorine used to keep swimming pool water fresh and clean can also degrade the fabric and print on your kids swimwear, so if you're choosing bathers with kids swimming lessons in mind, check the label to see if they are chlorine resistant.


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What's the best kids swimwear for the environment?

Last, but certainly not least in our eyes, we recommend all parents give a second thought for the planet when choosing the best kids swimwear for their family.

Did you know that by 2100 almost half of the incredible creatures in our marine ecosystem will be on the brink of extinction? Or that the fast fashion industry pumps approximately 180 million plastic polybags into the environment every year? 

Individually we may just be one drop, but if we all make sustainable choices, together we might just save the ocean. Choosing eco-friendly kids swimwear can help ensure your children still have a beautiful ocean to enjoy when they're grown and have kids of their own.


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Luckily, these days there are plenty of kids swimwear options that are beautiful, affordable and sustainable. Just bear the following eco-friendly checklist in mind next time you're browsing kids bathers online or in store.

1. Choosing kids swimwear made from eco-friendly materials: we've chosen to make our kids bathers out of Repreve, an incredible yarn made from recycled plastic bottles. But there are plenty of other options on the market: choosing swimwear with official swing-tags from Repreve, Econyl or Lycocell will provide peace of mind that those adorable kids swimsuits truly are made from sustainable sources, rather than being subject to 'green-washing'.

2. Check the packaging those kids bathers arrive in: this is one for online shopping in particular. Look into the brand's practices regarding shipping and handling. Rather than putting another plastic polybag into the environment, truly eco-friendly bags will choose to package in recycled plastic or compostable mailers, and are likely to list other eco-friendly packaging practices across their supply chain on their website. Here at Little Fishy Swim our sustainability efforts include packaging our kids bathers in a biodegradable swim-pouch, shipping in recycled plastic mailers and we also request our factory reduce plastic use and opt for more sustainable materials when shipping to our warehouse too.


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3. Choose kids swimwear that comes with an eco-friendly donation: many sustainable kids swimwear brands will now profit-share with charities that also help the environment. Check to see if each purchase automatically includes a donation to a charity that aligns with your values, or if they are a member of a reputable organisation like 1% for the planet (as they will audit members to ensure money really does go to a good cause!)


4. Choosing quality kids swimwear is the best thing you can do for the environment - when your kids bathers are built to last, they'll out-live 2 or even 3 pairs of fast fashion swimsuits, and ensure more fabric and pollution stays out of ocean landfill. And if you're trying to live by the reduce, re-use, recycle mantra this is golden: quality kids swimwear = hand-me downs that are just as good as the day you bought them. Both your family, and the planet, will see the value from that!


Interested in how fast fashion creates a deep blue problem? We've written extensively on how the fashion industry impacts our oceans here.


In Summary:

Finding the best kids swimwear for each age and stage depends on how your little one, and the rest of the family, likes to enjoy the water! But regardless of whether you're looking for that first baby swimsuit, toddler swimwear that works at the beach and at the pool, or kids bathers that combine fashion and function, investing in quality kids swimwear always pays dividends.


Explore our range of quality kids swimwear that not only cares for your little ones, but the ocean they swim in too. Designed to be functional, adorable and sustainable, our whole range is made of recycled plastic bottles and includes a $1 donation to ocean clean up with each purchase. Shop kids swimwear now.