If you’re taking your baby to the beach, your baby needs sun protection. And it needs to become so routine, you don’t ever need a reminder to put on sunscreen or dress your child in sun protective clothing, also known as UPF clothing, with a UPF rating of 50. If you’re sick of trying to rub sunscreen on squirming, whining children, SPF clothing and baby sun hats will save your sanity and your kid’s skin.
“Protecting a baby from the sun should be done prior to any sun exposure so that it becomes part of the routine, just like changing a wet diaper before bed,” says pediatrician Dr. Andy Bernstein.
“The most immediate consequence of not protecting a baby against the sun is painful sunburn,” says Bernstein, “but also, premature aging of the skin and skin cancer risk are affected by sun exposure over the lifetime — so even sun exposure to little ones increases their risk of cancer or other skin changes.”
In addition to sunscreen, two of the best ways to keep your baby safe in the sun are hats and full-body swimsuits. With help from Dr. Bernstein, here are the best pediatrician-approved sun hats, sun protective clothing, and sunscreens for babies. All the items on our list have a UPF 50 rating, as recommended by experts, and are easy to put on and take off because, well, babies.
The Best Sun Protective Clothing and SPF Clothing for Babies
Your kid might not be quite thrilled with the idea, but putting him or her into a full-body swimsuit is a great way to protect your kid’s skin. “Infant swimsuits that offer sun protection will have an UPF rating, so make sure your baby swimsuits have one,” says Bernstein. “More protection with long sleeves and even pants can be very helpful.” Indeed, when shopping for a full-body swimsuit, you’ll want as much coverage as possible. Here are our picks.
No more fighting your kid as you try and put on sunblock. This suit offers full full-coverage and even protects the neck.
Two great things about this UPF 50 swimsuit: The front pockets, and the fact that it has an extra-long front zipper for diaper changes.
This bright, bold rash guard and swim shirt has a UPF rating of 50+, the highest in the UPF classification system. And it's made from recycled plastic bottles, so its graphic of clear blue seas is true to form.
This hooded baby sunsuit is made from a soft bamboo knit blend, and provides UPF 50 protection. The attached hood on this swimsuit provides extra protection from the sun, and snap closures in the leg area simplify both diaper changes and clothing changes.
iPlay's two-piece set provides UPF 50 sun protection, and we particularly like the washable swim diaper, which you can use instead of disposable options.
No more fights over wearing hats in the sun. This hooded sun suit solves the problem for you. It also has a snap close bottom for easy diaper access.
While not a full bodysuit, these genius leg protectors are easy to get on and pull off, and protect those baby legs from the sun. These UPF 50 leg protectors are meant for babies and young toddlers. Your child can wear them with any pair of shorts, or a swimsuit, for additional protection from the sun.
We love that this UPF 50 bodysuit has a tagless neck, meaning less irritation for baby skin. The founder of SwimZip was diagnosed with skin cancer, so she knows a few things about sun protection. Now, she's created a fairly ingenious bodysuit with a full zipper down the front, making it extra easy to take off and put on. There's a lot of great patterns at your disposal.
Snaps make diaper changes super-quick and easy, and the sweet design will make for memorable beach photos. This UPF swimsuit is a win-win. This suit is great for kids who like to have their legs free to splash around in the water.
Tuga UPF clothing is made without any sunscreen chemicals in the fabric, so it's great for kids with sensitive skin. Or parents who are trying to avoid reef-harming chemicals. This swimsuit is UPF 50, has a front zipper, and plastic snaps for diaper changes. It also has flat lock stitching and four-way stretch.
Great for older kids who are potty-trained, this UPF 50 swimsuit has a zipper down the front and a timeless, colorful print.
This handy blanket is made of cotton/viscose from bamboo/spandex and features UPF 50+ protection against 98 percent of UVA and UVB rays.
This sun blanket, a blend of cotton, rayon, and bamboo, has a UPF 50 rating and no added sunscreen chemicals. It's great as a nursing cover.
The Best Baby Sun Hats
Protecting your baby’s head and eyes from the sun is the first step in making sure they’re ready for a splash. According to Bernstein, there’s really only one thing to look for in a protective hat for the baby: “It should have as wide a brim as the baby can tolerate,” he says, “covering not just the face like a baseball cap, but hopefully protection all around the head to protect the ears and the neck too.”
The iPlay brand is a leader in sun-safety clothing. This UPF 50 baby sun hat is made from breathable material that keeps him or her cool and comfortable, and we particularly love the foam brim that stay out of your baby's eyes when its wet.
Not only is this hat UPF 50 protective, but it also has a fully adjustable head drawstring that will allow you to size up so you can use the hat for multiple seasons.
This full-brim hat, with a UPF 50 rating, adds a little color and pattern to your baby’s sun-bathing wardrobe, with fun options like blue, pink, and animal print. It’ll cover everything from head to shoulders.
If you’re not a fan of the big-brim look, or just want to give the back of your kid’s neck a little extra coverage, this UPF 50 hat folds down to protect it all. A moisture-wicking fabric on the inside helps keep your baby's head comfortable and dry the entire trip.
The Speedo sun bucket hat has an adjustable safety chin strap to keep it in place on your baby's head and of course, provides UPF 50 protection.
A sweet, simple sun hat, with UPF 50 protection, and a chin strap with a breakaway buckle closure.
The Best Sunglasses for Babies and Kids
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, kids 10 and younger can damage their eyes from exposure to UV rays. Thus, sunglasses are good choice. Make sure the ones you choose block 99-100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays, per the Skin Cancer Foundation, and that they use playground-proof lenses. This means the lenses are scratch-proof and won’t pop out of their frames when your kids are playing. Wraparound styles are great, for maximum protection.
We love Babiators, which are seemingly unbreakable and provide 100 percent protection against UVA and UVB rays. The frame is made of rubber, and the lenses are shatter- and impact-resistant. You can choose from a ton of different colors and styles.
These polarized Babiators offer the same total protection from UVA and UVB but with an the extra level of cool that reflective lenses provide. The smallest size (0-2) comes with silicone strap to keep glasses snugly in the right place.
The strap keeps these sunglasses from getting lost or shifting around. The lenses reduce glare, and provide full UVA and UVB protection.
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