Why do people make so much fuss over kids swimwear? It’s simple… Swimming lessons are one of the first things we arrange for our children – and with good reason. Swimming is not only a great sport, it’s also an essential life-saving skill. After all, swimming can prevent your kid from drowning. 

Facts about swimsuits for children 

Children need swimsuits to swim in, no matter what the weather, and where you are in the world. And when you shop, you’ll find swimming clothing available in various iterations. Here’s a selection of swimming facts:

  • To swim your kid needs a swimsuit, a necessary outdoor piece of clothing for swimming.
  • Twenty-first century children’s swimsuits are a far cry from the swimming costumes of old that used to be on sale at a good price. These days we concentrate on choosing discount clothing or the latest arrivals made from strong, durable materials. We look for suits that stretch to fit the body well, are comfortable and treated to prevent sun damage. 
  • Swimming garments you find online and discounted in stores are often lined with fabric that stops it from being see-through when wet. 
  • A swimming costume is also designed to fit snugly (tight fits make movement easier) and help the child swim more efficiently, by eliminating friction and drag (this is when water slows down the movement of the body).
  • Children should have at least 3 regular swimming products so that they can alternate these pieces of clothing when one is wet. And, as we all know, accidents do happen. So always pack a second swimsuit.

      What to look for when choosing swimwear for little ones

      Be careful of cheap and cheerful swimming clothing and beachwear for children that you’ll find that is discounted… there’s a reason that you need to buy top quality swimming gear that fit well and will last the kids or a baby, whether they’re going to be swimming in a pool or in the sea, playing on the beach or on your garden lawn whilst running through a sprinkler, or swimming in an indoor pool whilst on holiday.

      1.   Proper sun protection 

      We all know that when they’re in the pool or the sea, your children are even more susceptible to the sun’s rays, which reflect off the water. The idea is to protect your child’s body from the sun as much as possible. Concentrate on areas of the body that are most sensitive, like shoulders, arms and backs. 

      There’s a wide variety of swimming gear on offer for little ones (baby too), including something that offers sun protection. We’re talking about swimming clothing for boys and girls swim shorts that you can pair with a swim swimsuit. Look out for UPF50 stickers or labels to show these provide some protection. 

      Check out maake's swimming costume bases - Active Eco Lycra and Recycled Eco Lycra along with the Heavy Lycra 210 all have UPF50 certification (see details in Special Swim Fabrics below).

      And remember: it’s not only the style of the swimming costume that will protect your kid or baby from the sun. Many a swimming costume brand offers pieces they make from specially treated fabric. The fabric used for boys and girls swim shirts, for example, also offers sun protection. This is equally important if you have a baby and are looking for suitable swimming gear.

      After all, having fun in the water is what kids love best. As parents, we need to make sure the clothing they are wearing has the plush bonus of protecting them from harsh elements whilst swimming, keeping them cool in the heat, or warm on a Northern Hemisphere holiday.

      2.   Special swim fabrics

      As we mentioned above, swimming costume fabric has to tick a number of boxes. It needs to be:

      -       Comfortable

      -       Hard wearing

      -       Flexible so that the body can move whilst wearing it

      -       Lightweight

      -       Able to wick away moisture

      -       Resist fading

      -       Can withstand sun exposure, chlorine and salt water

      -       Stops water drag (see above).

      Lycra is a favorite choice for kids swimwear, so read our excellent guide on What is Lycra? right here.

      If you intend making your own swim outfits for your children or for your small business, make sure to read our guide on How to sew stretchy fabric.

      3.   The right fit

      Your kids are going to be running around or swimming constantly in their swimsuits, so when you shop, make sure their selected swimming products fit their bodies well. No sagging or loose fabric, as this will make them feel uncomfortable – and this includes boys and girls swim shirts and swim shorts too.

      There are specific size charts for kids, which will make it easier for you to choose the right size for your child. (Take a look at our info on Sizing, below.)

      Of course, the size does vary according to brands, so you need to measure your kid before you shop to make sure the garment will fit them snugly. If possible, choose a store or check online and then order from a store that has an exchange policy in case you choose the wrong size when you shop.

      One question we want to answer emphatically now – should you choose a bigger size so that your kid can grow into the swimwear? We don’t recommend this.

      But when you find a swimming costume that your kid is happy with, we suggest buying two when they are discounted – one in a larger size, for when the current one gets too small. You’ll thank us later!

      4.   Colours, styles and patterns

      With the above in mind, do make a point of taking your kid’s personality, likes and dislikes into account when you shop for colours, patterns and designs for swimming gear and accessories.

      Once they reach an age where they have decided likes and dislikes, it’s a good idea to let them see what’s available on online stores to get an idea of what they prefer before you choose.

      But don’t forget when you shop online: what we see on screen isn’t necessary what will arrive on pick up or delivery day. Computer screens show colour deceptively.

      What are popular choices of swimming garments and accessories for kids available right now in every store? It really is kid-dependent: let your kid dictate what they would prefer to wear and then choose accordingly.

      There’s a wide variety in every store to keep every kid happy, from feminine floral prints to more versatile stripes and tie-dye, colour-blocking, single shades, sea and beach themes, and everything in between.

      As for styles, before you choose, check out what their friends are wearing. They may well want to have the same style or similar, so do this before you check out what’s available.

      For all the information on colour and to give you some inspiration, check out our informative blog An Introduction to Colour Theory and the Color Wheel.

      5.   Swimming accessories

      When you take your kid to swimming lessons, or on a pool play date, or on holiday to the sea, you don’t just take their swimsuits. And this happens whether they’re having indoor lessons around the Festive Season, or in an outdoor pool in the summer months. That bag is full of all sorts of other accessories and outerwear, too. Let’s take a look at necessary accessories to take with you in a bag or basket to the beach or the indoor pool. Remember: these make great gifts, in fact they make super gifts at any time of the year, too!

      • Flipflops for when they’re on the beach and other summer-appropriate footwear to play in (sandals or sneakers are the best footwear for the beach or for by the pool)
      • Sunscreen: No matter how much the swimming costume protects your child, you also need plenty of sunscreen that you apply often, no matter the season and whether it’s cloudy or not
      • Sunhats:Even when they’re in the pool, unless they’re confident swimmers, make them keep a hat on
      • Water bottles: Make sure they drink plenty of water when it’s hot
      • Snacks: Fresh fruit and vegetables cut up small, sandwiches, etc
      • Beach balls and other toys
      • Beach towels for the pool and the beach: Choose a soft, absorbent cotton towel that dries fast and is breathable
      • Sunhats
      • Sunglasses
      • Multipacks of wet wipes
      • Cover-ups for over their swimwear, as we mentioned above. If you’re on a holiday and there’s an indoor pool at your resort, make sure you have a warm cover-up (these make great presents, too and you can also double up and use your cover-up as nightwear). In summer, a light cover-up and light footwear is all you need.

          5 important questions to ask when shopping at John Lewis and other stores

          Ask yourself the following questions before you purchase at discounted swimwear as presents or necessities for kids at any time of the year:

          1.   Is the suit easy to swim in?

          Is the swimsuit easy for your kid to swim in? Make sure that the bathing suit is easy to move in. It needs to be a quality fabric, and if it’s a one-piece, the mid-section needs to have mobility.

          2.   Is the product hard-wearing?

          Pool chlorine can wear out your child’s swimsuit – another reason to look for quality fabric that is resistant to chemicals and is long-lasting. Choose a nylon or Poly/spandex fabric with a polyester lining for swimming products and swim trunks that resist both chlorine and saltwater.

          3.   Does the fabric dry fast?

          Wet swimsuits are likely to be heavy and uncomfortable, especially when it’s cold outside on holiday. Kids love to spend hours in the water, so the fabric used to make the swimming costume should dry fast. Don’t forget: after use, rinse the swimsuit, dry and store away till next time.

          4.   Does the fabric have UV protection?

          Water reflects the sun, so your child’s skin is extremely vulnerable whilst swimming. Swimsuits for children made of fabric with a UPF50 rating will block 98% of the sun’s harsh rays. To get the best sun protection, make sure you also apply sunscreen to your child’s skin. Remember: even when the sun isn’t shining, harsh UV rays are still likely to harm your child’s skin.

          5.   Does your little one have a cover-up? 

          It’s great choosing swimsuits for kids that tick all the boxes, but make sure that when your kid gets out of the water, you need a protective cover-up and a pair of shoes.

          For these important swimming accessories, comfort is most important and if the fabric has sun protection, that’s a big plus. Of course, as we mentioned earlier, a holiday in a ski resort requires a completely different type of cover-up – something warm and cosy, much like nightwear or a dressing gown and light footwear. Cover-ups and nightwear always make great gifts, too.

          For summer, we make many swim cover-ups out of polyester and spandex. But whichever type of accessories you choose, do check the labels carefully to see how effective they will be. 

          For trends in kids swimwear and accessories like cover-ups, take a look at Australian brands: they are very conscious of protecting their kids’ skin from the sun and come up with innovative garments, footwear and accessories for them to wear that not only do the trick, but look great as well. This applies to nightwear for summer and winter, too.

          Why size is so important

          Ill-fitting full girls swimsuits, nightwear and accessories will make swimming uncomfortable and unenjoyable for children. Remember this when you select swimwear at any time of the year or when there are discounts for a present or for necessity. So make sure kids swimming clothing and cover-ups fit well. First step is to measure your child:

          • Sizing for girls: Measure under the arms and around the back and bust, as well as the waist, hips and inseam. Also measure weight and height, as tall or bigger kids may need a longer suit, and junior girls may need to go down a size in swimming clothing. For swimming shorts, see ‘Sizing for boys’ below.
          • Boys sizes: Measure around the waist to get the perfect fit. If the kid is between a size, or the waist is too tight, rather go up to the next size. Make sure that the waist is comfortable. Remember: elasticated waists can be comfortable for all swimming shorts, including junior sizes for boys, but a drawstring waist on a pair of shorts will give a custom fit.

              Easy sizing tips

              Christmas gifting just got really easy! Check out these size guidelines for swimsuits, swim clothing and accessories that make perfect presents year-round. Note: Some brands offer size guidelines based on age, while others offer sizing from extra-small (XS) to extra-large. Rule of thumb if you’re buying Christmas gifts is to make sure the swimwear will still fit when summer comes.

              A rough sizing guide

              (The list includes junior boys and girls, bathing suits for 12 year olds and other large products to fit kids as they grow up to be teens.)

              • XS – 4 to 5 years with a 20 to 21.5-inch waist
              • S – 6 to 7 years, with a 22 to 23.5-inch waist
              • M – size 8 years and 9-10 years, 11 -12 years if with a 24 to 25.5-inch waist
              • L – 11 to 12 years with a 26 to 27.5-inch waist
              • Extra Large – 13 to 14 years with a 28 to 30-inch waist.

                  Explore prints, patterns and colours

                  Children often have very decided opinions about what type of swimsuit and accessories they want to wear, depending on their personality and the latest trends, as well as where they plan to go swimming – on a holiday in the Southern hemisphere, or at home when the weather is warm. But there are those kids who don’t care at all about swimsuits. Here we offer some popular choices for presents or nightwear for any time of the year:

                  • Navy and black are ideal for swimwear and accessories for schools.
                  • Bright red and orange, or a pattern using cheerful summer colours, are very popular.
                  • Blue is another very popular choice, especially blue shades that match the ocean and turquoise.  
                  • Designs include plenty of sea creatures, beach scenes, stripes and spots. Colour-blocking is a major trend right now.
                  • Children love bright colours, especially neon orange, green and yellow.

                    Common children's swimwear

                    • Rash vests: Often made from spandex and nylon, these shirts are used to protect children against chafing and sun exposure. Choose one that is good value for money.
                    • Wetsuits and dry suits: Commonly made out of neoprene, shop for these close-fitting suits if you need one for snorkelling and board sports. Also great for cooler weather, so choose these for presents for a holiday.
                    • A one piece swimsuit: This collection is often made out of technologically advanced fabric that withstands the elements (salt water, sun and chlorine), keeps the suit’s shape and comes in various styles.
                    • Boys’ swim briefs: Often called a Speedo, because the brand is so popular, this type of swimming collection is usually made of a blend of nylon and spandex, although some brands use polyester, which is longer-lasting. They usually feature a lining on the inside front made of a similar fabric.
                    • Boys board shorts: A longer version of a swimming trunk, these shorts reach over the knee or even past the knee. Preferably have a non-elastic waistband. Select these particular shorty styles when you kid partakes in board sports like paddle-boarding, wake-boarding and surfing.
                    • Boys swim trunks: Commonly known as board shorts in the UK, these shorts are designed to be slightly longer than boxer shorts. Trunks are loose shorts that reach mid-thigh. These shorts often have a polyester inner lining. They are extremely popular shorts.
                    • Swim shirts: These protective shirts are great for children when they go into the water and also keep children warm on holiday, no matter where you go. Parents choose these shirts for their children to wear when the sun is at its most deadly (11am to 2.30pm) or when the kid has sensitive skin and is prone to sunburn.

                    The best swimming gear for every age

                      • Baby swimwear: This depends on whether the baby is still wearing nappies. For instance, if your baby girl is still wearing nappies instead of knickers, you would need to find swimming nappies available, which baby can wear on its own or under babies’ swimwear. When wet, these nappies do not swell. Manufacturers also design them with special elastic side guards and side flaps that are easy to remove. Baby boys can wear cute board shorts, and for baby girls, choose a pair of knickers or the bottoms of bikinis, even if you have to pay for the entire bikini. If your kid is going to be having swimming lessons when it’s cold outside, wetsuits are an ideal product for babies.

                      • Toddler swimsuit boy and girl 3 to 5 years: It’s time to invest in swimming trunks for the boys and a one-piece swimming costume for the girls, especially if they’re learning to swim. These products are important if the child’s skin is fair and sensitive to the sun.

                      • Kids aged 5 years and upwards:Swimwear for children comes in various styles, colours and patterns. Girls’ swimsuits are easier, as there are so many styles to choose from when you choose, including 1- and 2-piece costumes for girls, whilst boys have to stick to shorts, briefs or trunks. Also note: young teens will need costumes with a bra inside. And as we mentioned in a previous point: swimming shirts for children may be ideal if your kid’s skin is sun-sensitive. Also, if you need a warm cover-up for a winter holiday, double up and shop for nightwear.

                      The business side of swimwear

                      The market in the UK

                      According to Statistica:

                      • Most of the revenue in this niche market is generated in the United States (UK Pound Sterling 9.67 billion in 2023), but the UK is also doing very well, with £749 million. 
                      • It’s expected that the swimming and sports segment of the market will grow 3.3% in 2024 and will amount to 41.4% in 2027.

                          The bottom line

                          Although swimwear for children are considered a saturated market, they can be very lucrative for small niche businesses. The secret to success? Make sure you do extensive research about fabric, design and what children want. And be sure you don’t make the garment too expensive and outprice yourself. Also, don’t be afraid to sell these as great presents for any occasion. Many kids go on holiday to warmer countries over the Festive Season and other holidays, and swimwear makes excellent presents at this time, as do cover-ups that can double as nightwear.


                          • Concentrate on providing a quality product.
                          • Become an expert in your field. This will set you apart from the rest.
                          • Focus on giving customers something different from your competitors – like special prices at the Festive Season for great presents.
                          • Be innovative and think out of the box.
                          • Deliver what you promise every single working day.

                              How to make swimwear for children

                              Choose your maake fabric

                              • Active Eco Lycra: A beautiful eco blend of recycled polyester and elastane, this mediumweight lycra fabric is ideal for kids swimwear, with its smooth surface and excellent stretch. One can pull this fabric in any direction and it will spring right back every time. Both sides of the fabric are identical; it prints vibrant, strong colours. UPF50 certified and chlorine and pill-resistant, this is one of our most popular swim fabrics.
                              • Recycled Eco Lycra: A very popular high quality, eco blend of recycled polyester and elastane, this medium weight lycra fabric has a little less stretch than the Active Eco Lycra for a taughter body contour, and a slightly glossier finish. One can pull this fabric in any direction and it will spring right back every time. Both sides of the fabric are identical; it prints vibrant, strong colours. UPF50 certified and chlorine and pill-resistant, this is a popular swimming fabric.
                              • Eco Glitter Dot Lycra: We make it out from a blend of recycled polyester and elastane with a glittery multi-coloured foil dot effect to make your swimwear shine and shimmer in the sun. We use this stretchy eco lycra fabric widely for swimsuits bikinis and other swimming gear. Eco-conscious business owners find it ideal, as they can use recycled polyester. The material prints beautifully and vibrantly.
                              • Scuba BodyFit: A special combination of polyester and elastane fibres, this soft double-knit fabric is very similar to neoprene. Composition: PES EL Scuba BodyFit is a double knit fabric similar to neoprene. It’s ideal for thicker swimming as it’s easy to care for and long-lasting with a springy, smooth feel.
                              • Eco Sprint Knit: A mid-weight 100% recycled polyester wicking sports jersey. Fantastic for rash vests, swimming shirts and more. Its a very popular fabric for the summer sports and outdoor market, and prints fantastically.
                              • Heavy Lycra 210: The heaviest lycra fabric in the maake range, which makes this polyester fabric ideal for activewear like costumes. This smooth, stretchy fabric can be pulled in any direction and springs back to shape every time. Print face and backing are the same and colours print vibrantly.

                              Get creative with maake

                              We have an exceptional 15,000+ exclusive designs and patterns to inspire you for kids swimming outfits as presents or necessities in our Design Library on our site. Check it out.

                              Independent designers have designed every single pattern. When you include one of these designs for printing and shipping in your cart, we pay the designer. 

                              Alternatively, you can design your own fabric for gifting or business products. Follow the link below and see how easy it is to upload your own creation before printing and shipping the fabric or products.

                              Choose a fabric                  Design your own fabric

                              May 27, 2023 — Alexander Wills