Buying childrens wetsuits and rash guards can help both you and your child. If your little guy or girl is comfortable and warm in the water with a kids wetsuit on - it makes for a better experience for both of you.
Or if he doesn't need the warmth, he can get full protections from the sun from a proper rash guard.
And who doesn't love a win-win situation?
Whether swimming, scuba diving or surfing, you’ll want to choose the kids wetsuits or rash guards that provide the maximum protection and comfort.
Let's start with childrens wetsuits since there is more to know about them to ensure you get the best one for your child.
Having the right information at your fingertips goes a long way to getting your little swimmer exactly the wetsuit he needs.
There are some basic criteria that apply to both adult and child sized wetsuits.
(We have a full free wetsuit buyers guide which you can check out but we will go over the most important elements here.)
There are also some issues that make buying childrens wetsuits a little more challenging than adult suits. We will also address those issues in this article.
Whether you are buying childrens wetsuits or adult wetsuits, the most important element is suit thickness since this is what provides warmth in cool water. Wetsuits are produced on a thickness scale, which measures thickness of body and arms and legs.
Having fun in the pool. A child's wetsuit will work here too.
Of course, everyone is different so what works for one person may not work for another. You probably have a general idea of how cold your child gets in the water. If he or she is always coming out blue lipped and shaking, you may want to try a slightly thicker child wetsuit to start out with.
The following is a general guide to help you choose a starting point for the proper thickness for your kids wetsuit:
You will see some suits with 2 numbers, for instance a 4/3 full suit. A note on A 4/3 full suit has a 4mm thickness in the body and 3mm in the arms and legs. The thicker portion covers the core of your body to keep you warmer, while the second number covers your extremities and is a little thinner allowing some extra mobility.
There are three types of kids wetsuit. Those that cover the whole body and go to the wrists and ankles are full suits and offer the most warmth and protection.,
Childrens wetsuits that have short legs that end just above the knees and short sleeves are called shortie (shorty) suits. This is probably the most popular type of wetsuits for children that are swimming (as opposed to scuba diving) since it offers warmth but has more room for movement than a full suit.
Full wetsuits can keep your child warm in the ocean.
Childrens wetsuits that have full legs but no arms is called a farmer john.
The type that is best for your child depends on what they will want to do in it.
For scuba diving, especially in cooler water, a full suit is recommended.
If your child is swimming and running around in the water and just plain being a kid, and the water temperature is in the high 70's or so, shorty suits would probably be the best choice. They offer warmth but also allow for more flexibility.
The quality of a childs wetsuit may be less important than the quality of an adult wetsuit. The reason being that your child is growing and the suit may only last a season or two as opposed to, say, the five years an adult can get out of a suit.
So a child is liable to outgrow the suit before they get full use from it.
This is not to say that you want the cheapest suit for your child since you want them to be comfortable (cheap suits tend to have seams that stick up and can be uncomfortable). But you also probably don't want to spend a ton of money on a suit that will only last a summer.
A medium quality childs wetsuit should be fine - offering comfort and protection at a reasonable price.
You can often judge the quality of the suit by how strong the seams are. The better the quality of the suit, the more secure the seams will be.
Seams that fit tightly together, are smooth (lay down), have blind or flat lock stitching (see our page on buying a wetsuit for details) and are reinforced by either glue or a second piece of fabric over the seam signify a well-made suit.
Seams that have bumps, ridges or exposed stitching are the sign of a cheaper suit.
Before you purchase a kids wetsuit, you’ll want to make sure that it fits well. Of course, the best way to do this is by trying them on.
Only by seeing the suit on the child can you tell if it will provide the maximum protection and allow the proper amount of movement. If you buy online, check the return policy in case the fit isn't right.
A wetsuit is meant to be snug for a proper fit. If the childs wetsuit is too loose, water will run freely through it which makes it lose its insulating properties.
Of course, you have to balance this with your child's growth.
Though a snug fit is generally recommended to ensure maximum warmth, allowing a small amount of growth room in children’s suits can be doable and can be a money saver. But don't buy it too big or your child will not get any warming qualities from the suit.
While childrens wetsuits are meant to be snug, they should still be able to have movement. Have them cross their arms in front of their chest. If their movements are very restricted, you may need to go up a size and vice versa.
If you see folds in the suit at their armpits or crotch, you should go down a size.
It is hard to give a size chart since childrens wetsuit sizes will vary by manufacturer. But once you choose a manufacturer, almost all have a sizing chart to help you choose the right one for your child.
To try and save you some time and to help make your choice a bit easier, we have read tons of reviews and ratings of childs shorty wetsuits (we will have a separate article on the best full children's wetsuits).
Our view is that if an overwhelming number of parents have a favorable review of a suit, chances are that you will have a good experience also.
As far as pricing goes, costs for childrens wetsuits will vary depending on the quality of the suit. However, most good quality children’s suits seem to range from $25-$100. In this, like almost everything else in life, you get what you pay for.
Since children will outgrow wetsuits, it can get expensive to keep buying new suits as they get older. To this end I have picked 3 well rated suits that are all under $50. In addition I also give you our pick for best value kids suit (see below).
In case you don't mind spending a little more money, I also give you a shortie wetsuit pick that gets great reviews and is at a higher price point.
(Note: These picks were updated in September 2020. If a link doesn't work or an item isn't available, please let us know. We strive to keep this up to date as possible. We appreciate your help. )
Our first pick for best childrens wetsuits in 2020 remains this Realon model. It continues to rack up the positive reviews from parents.
It is still getting great reviews from the vast majority of purchasers (rated 4.6 out of 5.0 from 750+ reviews; it got an even better rating of 4.9 out of 5.0 for snorkeling purposes) and most say they are extremely satisfied.
One common comment was their child didn't want to get out of the water since they weren't cold - so be forewarned! :)
This wetsuit has flat lock seams and a durable zipper that can withstand the pulling and tugging from kids according to most reviews.
It is made of a thick 3mm neoprene material and has an adjustable collar for maximum comfort.
This kids wetsuit is available in sizes xs to xxl which according to the sizing chart is suitable for ages 2-12 years.
From the many reviews I have read, I have put together a list of pros and cons of this pick for best children's wetsuits.
(Note: A 2mm full wetsuit version for kids is available on this same listing)
We have a new entrant in 2020 for our second pick of best kid's wetsuit. This model has garnered over 150+ positive reviews with an average 4.7 out of 5.0 rating.
Like our first pick, this wetsuit has flat lock seams and an inner layer panel under the zipper for more comfort for the child. It also features a hidden key pocket which may prove useful for your child. Or they can have fun with it anyway!
Aunua has made this wetsuit for a child with an extra long zipper, making it easier for them to put on and take off by themself.
It is made of a thick 3mm neoprene material and has an adjustable velcro collar for additional comfort.
This kids wetsuit is available in sizes 4 to 16 which according to the sizing chart is suitable for a weight range of 40-135 pounds or kids to teens.
My list of pros and cons from the many reviews I have read for this pick of best children's wetsuits is as follows:
(Note: Available in 4 different color combinations)
Choice #3 (plus Best Value Child Wesuit):
Our #3 pick for 2020 is a Goldfin model. This model made its entrance last year at #2 for best kids wetsuits. While still a strong contender, it has been nudged down a notch in 2020 by the number 2 pick above.
This wetsuit continues to get some great reviews from parents and kids alike scoring a solid 4.6 out of 5.0 from 100+ reviews.
This pick also gets our nod for Best Value Children's Wetsuit of 2020 coming in at $26.99 for all sizes. I think this is a great price point for the suit you are getting.
This suit is made of 2mm neoprene, so a little thinner than our first pick but still thick enough to do the job. It has a front zipper making it easy for a child to take it off and put it on by themselves (wish I could say that for my wetsuit!).
This wetsuit for kids also boasts a UPF 50+ which should make the adults happy. It is available in sizes 4-12 and there is a size chart provided by the manufacturer to ensure you child gets a good fit.
This wetsuit is available for boys and girls and has a cute pattern (if I may say so myself). The girls is pink with butterflies while the boys wetsuit is blue with colorful fish.
The pros and cons of this children's wetsuits pick are as follows:
The above picks of best children's wetsuits are all moderately priced at under $50. However, I wanted to give an excellent choice for those that don't mind paying a little more for a child's suit.
Looking at all the choices, the one suit that stands out is an O'Neill model. This was my pick for the last couple of years and it still stands the test of time as my pick for best higher end children's shorty wetsuit in 2020. It is coming in this year at around the $75 price range for most sizes and colors. Not cheap by any means but by all the reviews, it is worth it.
What struck me is how many people said they bought another one or were going to buy another one when their child outgrows their current one. Now that says alot!
This wetsuit got an excellent 4.8/5.0 rating from 75+ reviews and is available in sizes 4-16. It has flatlock stitch for comfort and also has seams placed where they won't chafe as much when moving. This is a 2mm wetsuit.
The pros and cons of this higher priced pick for best children's wetsuit in the high end are as follows:
If your child doesn't need the extra warmth childrens wetsuits provide, a good alternative for sun protection would be a rash guard. This will help protect them from small abrasions and keep their skin out of the sun. With a SPF rash guard you will need to put less suntan lotion on them which is always a plus!
I have picked a couple of highly rated rash guards for both boys and girls. They come in all sizes and lots of different colors so you should be able to find one that suits your child.
Our picks for best children's rashguards are:
For 2020, this City Threads rash guard has hung on to the top spot. They continue to get an excellent overall rating of 4.8 out of 5.0 and reviews keep coming in - they now have over 290+ reviews.
What also made this product stand out is the number of reviewers that said they:
Now that says alot!
This rash guard is made in the USA and the company states that no extra spray or retardant is used in the manufacturing process. Rather the sun protection comes from the weave of the fabric.
It also has UPF 50+ and reinforced stitching. You can choose from many prints and styles both long sleeve and short sleeve. The company also offers matching products (swim briefs, leggings, hats, dresses, etc.) to make an outfit if you want :)
Depending on the style and color sizes run from 3 months to 16 years.
Quite a few of the reviews said it runs large so you should size down. So this is something to consider when ordering. Quite a few reviewers gave their child's size and what they ordered so you can also check against that.
The pros and cons of our new top pick for best girls rash guard are:
For 2020, we have a new entrant. It was a close call but this model was just edged out by our #1 pick (due to less reviews/ratings). Our new entrant this year is from the popular and trusted brand of Land's End.
This girls rash guard has earned excellent ratings with an overall score of 4.9 out of 5.0 based on 185+ reviews. The rash guard offers modest coverage with a front lining.
While most rash guards are quick drying due to the material, this product is also chlorine resistant. The material (depending on pattern) ranges from 80-82% spandex and 18-20% nylon.
This short sleeve rash guard has an SPF of 50+ so you can protect your child's sensitive skin. It is available in sizes from 4-16+ (depending on pattern). It comes in several different and fun patterns.
and cons of this rashguard are:
For 2020, this Tuga model still scored strong but was bumped down to the third spot for best girl's rash guard. It still continues to garner high ratings with an overall score of 4.6 out of 5.0 based on 210+ reviews.
This long sleeve rash guard also has an SPF of 50+ so you can protect your child's sensitive skin.
The material is 80% nylon and 20% spandex. This rash guard also has flat lock stitching for durability and comfort, 4-way stretch and is made with quick drying fabric. It is available in sizes from 3 months to 14 years.
Lots of parents gave it high marks for its looks and, more importantly, its ability to protect their child from sunburn. It has a higher neck so even less sunscreen is needed.
This is a cute rash guard and your girl should look nice and stylish playing out in the water. There are alot of different colors and styles available so you should be able to find something that fits your taste.
The pros and cons of this rashguard are:
If you prefer, this rashguard also comes in a short sleeve version. You can find the details here.
Tuga also offers a highly rated bathing suit combination which you can find here.
The top spot for best boy's rash guard in 2020 goes to a new entrant - the OshKosh B'Gosh brand. It was a close call between #1 and #2 this year but I went with OshKosh due to the higher number of ratings/reviews.
This year's pick for best boy's rash guard has earned some fantastic ratings scoring a very high 4.8 out of 5.0 based on 270+ reviews/ratings.
This top rated rash guard is made of 83% polyester and 17% elastane and has a UPF of 50+. It is made from quick drying material (as are pretty much all rash guards) with the design screen printed. There are several cute designs to choose from.
Depending on the style/color, it is available in sizes from 2T to 14.
and cons of this boy's rash guard after reading the reviews are:
As I stated above, it was a close call between the top 2 spots in 2020. Just being edged out but still in a great #2 spot for best boy's rash guard in 2020 goes to another new entrant - the well known Nautica company.
Aside from coming from a well known and trusted company, this boy's rash guard has garnered some great ratings scoring an excellent 4.8 out of 5.0 based on 125+ reviews/ratings.
It is made of 82% polyester and 18% spandex and has a UPF of 50+. This style rash guard has a raglan half sleeve, ending just above the elbow. It also has a higher mock neck for extra protection from the sun.
Depending on the style/color, it is available in sizes from 5 to 20.
and cons of this boy's rash guard after reading the reviews and doing some research online are:
Pushed down to the #3 spot in 2020 after 2 years at #1 is this Tuga model. This company continues to get lots of great reviews from parents but it was overtaken by the more well know brands this year.
This rash guard still scores a high rating of 4.7 out of 5.0 based on 110+ reviews. It is made of 80% nylon and 20% spandex and has a UPF of 50+.
Depending on the style/color, it is available in sizes from 12 months to 14 years. Just like the girls model, this boys rash guard also has flat lock stitching for durability and comfort, 4-way stretch and is made with quick drying fabric..
Also similar to the girls rash guard, the boys is also chemical free and has a higher neck for extra protection from the sun.
The boys versions comes in several different colors and designs.
The pros and cons after reading the reviews are:
If you prefer, the company also offers a short sleeve version. You can find this rash guard in a short sleeve version here.
If you would like a complete swim outfit, the company offers a rash guard along with swim trunks here.
We hope you found this guide to picking the best childrens wetsuits or rash guards for your child useful. May they have many hours of warm, fun in the sun and water!
If your child needs a wetsuit or rashguard because he/she is going snorkeling, you may find our page on finding the best snorkeling equipment for a child useful. We include our picks for best snorkel set and best snorkel vest also.
Have a great time!
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