Choosing The Best Infant, Baby and Toddler Swimwear: a Little Fishy Guide

Whether you've been blessed with a born water baby, smiling little sand crab or have more of an aqua-phobe on your hands, introducing your baby to the joys of the water (or trying to!) is one of the rites of passage many Australian parents enjoy the most. But when it comes to baby and infant swimwear, it's not as easy as bunging baby in any old bathers, and off you go. If only it were!

Introducing your infant to the beach or pool may be something us parents really look forward to, but it can also create a fair amount of anxiety. Does that cute baby one-piece give enough sun protection? Is that gorgeous baby swim set going to keep my little one warm enough throughout their swimming lesson?

Choosing the right baby swimwear, along with the ways we introduce our little ones to the ocean or pool, can make or break their early relationship with the water (and the success of your family beach day, too!). Luckily, we've dedicated ourselves to understanding what makes the ultimate baby and infant bathers! So read on, for the ultimate Little Fishy guide to choosing the right baby and infant swimwear.


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Why choosing the right swimwear for baby is so important

If you're a parent of a teeny, tiny, human you've probably already noticed: bubs might look like the absolute miniature of Gran, Dad or Great Aunt Nora, but their little bodies certainly differ in some really key ways from those of their adult relatives.

Let's start with the one that's probably front of mind if you ever had a Summer baby, or thought about taking your infant to the beach. In the first few months of life, your little baby has incredibly sensitive skin, especially when it comes to the Sun. Did you know that melanin is the pigment that gives our hair, skin and eyes colour, and affords us a little skin protection? Babies and infants are not born with anything like as much melanin as develops in older children and adults, making them especially vulnerable to sun burn and other skin damage. Choosing sun-safe baby swimwear is an absolute essential for any parent taking and infant to the beach or outdoor pool.

When it comes to skin sensitivity, it's not just the sun that can cause baby to flare up red. Sitting in wet baby bathers for too long can cause swimming rash, whilst poorly made fabrics, exposed zips and seams can also rub and cause real discomfort - especially when wet - on your infant's sensitive skin.

The last crucial difference when it comes to hitting the beach or entering the water, is an infant's ability to regulate its own temperature. Babies cannot regulate their own body temperature, and even toddlers are more sensitive to heat and cold.

Choosing the right baby bathers can be a bit of a thermostat balancing act: you want ones which are light and breathable enough to keep them cool on the hottest days, quick drying baby swimwear so they don't get cold after being in the water, and it's also really worth considering the water temperature baby will be swimming in - you may need a baby swim set or swim accessory to keep them warm in the water too!


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How to choose Baby Swimwear that is truly sun-safe

There's so much to say on the topic of sun-safe baby swimwear, and how your infant's swimsuit could be letting those pesky rays through, that we wrote a whole blog on sun-safe baby swimwear here. But I'll give you the 5 point low-down on how to choose a baby swimsuit with maximum swim protection below:


1. Seek out a baby swim set or one-piece with maximum coverage:

Cute as that adorable little baby one-piece or tiny bikini may look, you might want to re-think it as the sole barrier between them and the sun! When your infant is extra small, seeking out a baby swimsuit with long arms (and maybe some little shorties too!) is where it's at. You want as much fabric barrier between them and the sun as possible. 


2. Look for baby bathers with UPF50+ certification:

Why this is not mandatory in all infant swimwear I will never know, but please know that not all fabric is made equal when it comes to sun-protection. Just like you'd add SPF50 to your skin, you should be looking for UPF50+ certification on your baby swimwear. This smart treatment essential acts like sun block for fabric, stopping up to 50x more of the sun's harmful rays through the porous 'weave' of your baby bathers. Oh, and since you're not supposed to put SPF on baby's under 6 months (and most parents don't lotion under the swimsuit anyway), you definitely want to have some built in to their swimsuit!


3. Watch out that your infant swimwear isn't leaving key 'problem areas' exposed:

If you're looking at a baby one-piece or even a baby bikini, the skin exposure will be obvious, but plenty of other infant swim sets still leave certain vulnerable areas exposed. Check for gaping necklines, short torsos or shirts and sleeves that ride up, as your baby will wriggle and guaranteed somewhere you didn't think to lotion will end up in the sun's full glare. 


4. Accessorise for maximum sun-protection:

Whilst we're talking about exposure, accessorising with a wide-brimmed sun hat, some sunnies and some little baby swim shoes is also a great idea. The thin skin on the nose, neck, ears and feet and toes was always the area that managed to go pink when my little one was small. For a seasoned 'beach mum' hack: choose a hat with a under-neck fastening. Your baby will try and tear it off, and a baby that is determined to keep a hat off is no foe to fight lightly! You've probably already witnessed how determined they can be.


5. Seek out baby and toddler swimwear with the right fit:

Gosh those little rascals grow up fast, and out of things fast too. As tempting as it can be to size up for longevity, or squeeze baby for a few extra months into too-tight bathers, both do compromise sun protection (unfortunately!). It might seem obvious, but 'gaping' swimwear is more likely to leave more sun exposed (especially areas that started under wraps and so don't get covered in lotion), but swim fabric that's stretched too tight also let's more UVA and UVB rays through. It all comes down to the aforementioned 'weave' of the fibres in your baby swimsuit. The more these fibres are stretched, the larger those tiny gaps between them become, compromising your baby's swimsuit's sun-stopping power.


If you want to read more on sun-protective baby and toddler swimwear, read our full guide on choosing the right sun-safe baby swimsuit here


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What's the best swimwear for a baby girl?

When it comes to choosing bathers for your baby girl, there are so many adorable styles in the market, it's easy to get carried away! From itsy, bitsy baby bikinis, to outrageously girly frilly little numbers, if you're looking for some cute beach-side snaps there are just so many options. However, our recommendation for your tiniest baby girl is always to choose a baby long-sleeve, one piece swimsuit - unless you'll be inside or splashing exclusively in the shade.

We've curated the best of our baby swimwear collection into one place, so you can explore our long-sleeve, swimwear styles for your baby girl. All our baby bathers are sun-protective, with UPF50+ certification, double linings (for warmth and comfort) and other handy features like extended zipper pulls and snap-stud bottoms.


What's the best swimwear for a baby boy?

Just like their baby gal pals, when it comes to choosing the best swimwear for your baby boy, coverage is king. Here at Little Fishy Swim we love a two-piece swim set for baby boys. These long-sleeve sets not only provide some extra sun protection, but the separate swim briefs make them water-side changes easy. We love a tight swim brief for baby boys, as it keeps a swim nappy in place, and the snug fit keeps baby boy nice and warm.

But watch this space too for all-in-one swimsuits for baby boys. Our incoming baby boys' swimsuit style maximises coverage, plus we've added snap studs to make taking your swim nappy on and off as easy as possible.


Choosing the right baby and infant swimwear for heading to the beach

A day out at the beach is one of life's greatest and simplest pleasures, right? Unfortunately, not always so much when you've got a baby in tow! Whilst taking an infant or toddler on to the sand may involve a lot more things in your beach bag, choosing the right baby swim set can make the day much smoother, more enjoyable and less anxious for Mum and Dad!

Here's another handy 4 step checklist for you to consider as you pack those baby bathers (and the rest!) into your beach cart. 


1. Make sure that baby swimwear is sun-safe:

At risk of repeating myself, this one is so vital we'll cover it twice! If you're heading to the beach, especially in Summer, those baby bathers will be taking a pounding from the sun's harmful UVA and UVB rays. Please see above, make sure it's up to the task!


2. Choose lightweight baby bathers in a quick dry fabric:

Remember what we said about infants and their temperature regulation? Once baby goes for a dip, sitting around in wet bathers for too long can turn those precious lips blue and get the shivers going. A lightweight fabric not only ensures baby doesn't overheat in their swimsuit, but quick dry fabrics also ensure they're dry - and warm - again as soon as possible.

If you're worried about getting cold, adding the right layers is the way to go. We recommend a lightweight baby wetsuit or neoprene swim vest to add some extra warmth to their core. Unfortunately adding extra layers of natural fibres like t-shirts and jumpers will only serve to absorb water, making baby incredibly heavy (causing them to potentially sink) and leaving them wet and shivering for longer.


3. Does your baby swim set make changes easy?

Yes, your baby probably will poop in the kiddie pool, or at least somewhere near it! (See point below on swim diapers!) Our littlest humans sure do 'go' pretty regularly, don't they? Make your beach life easy and choose baby bathers that are easy to get your little one in and out of. For baby boy swimwear, we love the little swim sets with a separate bottom, whereas for your baby girl we recommend a long-sleeve swimsuit. When selecting a baby one-piece, whether for a baby boy or girl, we always recommend getting one with an extra long zip (with extended fabric zipper pull) and crucially, some snap studs on the bottom. The snap studs are a total game-changer for a beach-side nappy change!


4. Have you got a specialist swim nappy?

Like I mentioned, you got to have some kind of nappy in place when taking an infant to the beach. But why invest in a re-usable swim nappy, rather than grabbing one from the regular stash at home. Whereas regular nappies are designed to absorb water, when it comes to swim nappies we actually want to let it through, focusing on catching the 'number two'. Waterlogged nappies are incredibly heavy and cause all kinds of skin irritation. Choosing a swim re-usable is not only better for the environment, but will make bubs far more comfortable too A good re-usable usually costs the same as a packet of disposable swim nappies too.


Still a little bamboozled by all that should be in your beach cart? Make sure to grab our free downloadable packing checklist for taking baby to the beach. Pin or screengrab for later, or print and keep next to your beach bag!


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How the right Baby Swimwear can Make or Break your Swimming Lessons

Heading to a Mums and Bubs swim class was absolutely one of the highlights of my week when Lila was small - I only wish we'd started when she was even younger.

So what do babies actually do at baby swimming lessons? You'd be right if you assumed there wasn't a whole lot of actual 'swimming' done at a baby swimming lesson. They're mostly designed to get babies acclimatised and comfortable in the water, so baby will spend a fair amount of time floating, getting used to water on their faces and heads, or in your arms, rather than working up a sweat!

Three questions you should ask yourself when choosing baby swimwear for swimming lessons:

- Will baby be warm enough? Most (but not all) public or gym swimming pools warm their water up especially for the baby sessions, but most parents will opt to add a light wetsuit or neoprene vest for warmth, as baby won't be moving all that much!

- Will baby be able to move easily? Linked to the above, babies will be encouraged to kick and splash a little in the pool. Choosing a baby swimsuit that isn't restrictive, or a shortie wetsuit if you decide to add one, is the way to go.

- Are those baby bathers chlorine resistant? Of course you want an adorable little pattern for baby's first swimsuit, but you want it to stay vibrant and beautiful right? Chlorine is an essential chemical used in swimming pools to keep water clean (all the more essential in a pool full of babies!) but it can also cause the patterns on your swimwear to fade. If you'll be spending a lot of time in chlorinated water, look up for chlorine resistant baby bathers.


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Choosing the Right Swimsuit for your Toddler's Swimming Lessons

If you've graduated from 'Mums and Bubs' to a toddler swim class, perhaps even one where you watch from the sidelines (rather than being in the pool), you'll notice that they do differ in some ways from their baby counterpart. 

At my toddler's swimming lessons they're certainly more active in the pool than in the baby swimming lessons - my toddler spends more time out of my arms, practicing climbing in and out of the pool, pulling herself along the side, and kicking and paddling on her pool noodle with all her might.

With all that vigorous splashing, especially if the pool is heated well, you might be less worried about choosing toddler swimwear or wetsuits for extra warmth. That said, they do still spend a fair amount of the time in wet bathers on the side of the pool waiting their turn, or for their lesson to start, so most of the parents in my daughter's swim class do still accessorise their toddler's swimwear with a shortie wetsuit, especially during the winter.


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Choosing Baby and Toddler Swimwear that's Good for the Planet, too

Did you know that by 2050 there's predicted to be more plastic in the ocean than there is fish? Or that by 2100 almost half of marine species will be on the brink of extinction? The marine plastic and pollution crisis is no joke.

If we want our little water babies to have an ocean to enjoy when they grow up, it's crucial we take action now.

When looking for eco-friendly baby and toddler swimwear, there are plenty of factors to consider.

What is the baby swimsuit made of? Ours are made of recycled plastic bottles - taking plastic pollution out of the ocean eco-system.

What are the practices of the brand and manufacturer? When it comes to clothing, the supply chain is everything as regards marine pollution. That's why we instruct our factories to minimise the packaging used to ship us our stock, and ship out to our customers in recycled plastic mailers. We also donate $1 from every online purchase back to incredible marine conservation charities here in Australia.


If you're looking for some gorgeous baby and toddler swimwear that not only cares for your little water baby, but the ocean they swim in too, look no further. Check out our range of UPF50+ certified baby and toddler swimwear here.