Kids swimwear: everything you need to know
Choosing the right kids swimwear is just as important as choosing the best kids swimming lessons. We give you the lowdown on everything related to kids swimming gear including accessories
What to look for when choosing kids swimwear sale products
Kids swimwear isn’t just about looking and feeling good all summer long. And though it's great fun to choose from the variety of kids styles and glorious patterns, remember: these points aren’t as important as the fabric you make your kids swim gear and swim accessories from.
That’s because the fabric makes it easier for the kid to swim in water by reducing friction and drag. And it’s great for protecting and covering up, too.
Here are some important points to consider when choosing the ideal kids swimwear and accessories:
The fabric should be durable and able to withstand salt in the sea and chlorine in swimming pools. Many swimsuits are made from fabric that is chlorine-resistant.
If possible, the fabric for swim outfits and accessories should also include sun protection, as the sun reflects onto the water, which makes the kid even less protected from harmful rays.
A lot of kids swimwear and swim accessories have sun protection in the fabric up to UPF50, which blocks 98% of UV rays. Of course, this shouldn’t stop you from applying plenty of sunscreen on your child. It’s there to protect the covered areas of the bathing suit from harsh UV rays.
The right fit and fabric for the right sport
The swimsuit must be comfortable for kids to wear and should fit correctly. (See “How to measure girls and boys for the perfect swimsuit’ below.)
Look for fabric that is a blend of nylon and spandex, durable fabric that is snug but not tight even after your kid has worn it and you have washed it several times. We make many of the best girls’ swimsuits and boys’ trunks out of this fabric, which dries fast and is machine or hand washable.
If your nylon/spandex fabric blend of kids swimsuit has a polyester lining as well, you’re adding another level of comfort and making sure your kids are free to move around in the water.
How to measure girls and boys for the perfect swimwear
Fit is very important in kids swimsuits and accessories. Make sure you measure your kids to ensure that the swimwear and outerwear will fit comfortably. Don’t just take the label size for granted.
To measure a girl: Measure under her arms around the bust, waistline and hips. Make sure to also measure her height, because she may need a larger size if she is tall for her age.
To measure a boy: For swimming trunks, measure around his waist. If your kid is between sizes, rather go to the next size than choose a swimming outfit that is too small.
For all kids: Choose a full elastic waist if you can, with a drawstring so that the kid can fit the swimsuit comfortably.
Explore the reasons a swim cover-up is so important
Swimsuits are vital, but so are cover-ups as accessories for kids. These accessories are perfect for after a swim, as beachwear, at a school swim event or by the pool at home.
Take a look at the stunning kids after-swim cover-up accessories available – some are so beautiful, even those kids who are difficult to please will enjoy grabbing one after having a swim.
The most important features to look for in cover-up accessories include sun protection, long wear and moisture-wicking. The kid should be comfortable at all times, dry and protected, especially on the shoulders, neck and chest. Kids with sensitive skin are even more susceptible.
Don’t let your kids run around without cover-up accessories. After a while, sun protection like sunscreen tends to wear off, so you need to ensure that you protect your kid's skin at all times. Remember: even when it’s cloudy, one needs sun protection.
Remember: it’s great choosing swimsuits for children that tick all the boxes, but make sure that when your kid gets out of the water, you have a protective cover-up for them.
Choose one made from polyester and spandex, preferably also with some degree of sun protection. Check the labels carefully to see what the fabric is made of, and the benefits that are provided. Many brands are following Australian trends and offering sun protection in cover-ups, too, so that kids can be protected from the sun at all times, even when they’re outside but are not in the water.
Styles of swimsuits
The one-piece: The most common type of swimming gear for girls. Also called a tank suit or maillot.
The 2-piece – also known as bikinis.
Swimming briefs: Similar in many way to underwear briefs, this type of swimwear is the most common. They come in various iterations including Speedos, briefs and bathers.
Trunks: Mid-style shorts that usually feature lining. These are a very popular choice for young kids.
Boardshorts: A longer version of swim trunks, boardshorts are not commonly elasticated at the waist. These are ideal for surfing and different water sports like paddle boarding.
For all kids:
Rash vests: Often made from a blend of spandex and nylon fabric, these vests are used to protect kids skin against chafing and sun exposure.
Wetsuits and dry suits: Usually made of neoprene, these close-fitting suits are perfect for snorkelling and board sports.
Swim shirts: These protective shirts are great when the sun is at its harshest (midday, from 11am to 2.30pm) or if your kid has sensitive skin and is prone to sunburn.
The best products for every age
- Swim gear for a baby:If the baby is still wearing nappies, it would need swim nappies to wear alone or under a swimming costume, board shorts or bikini bottom. These nappies don’t swell when they get well. They also have special elastic guards and flaps at the sides, so they are easy to remove. For cooler weather, the baby should have a little wetsuit to keep warm.
- Toddlers 3 to 5 years old: At this age, little boys can wear swimming trunks, and little girls will feel comfortable in a one-piece swimming costume. This type of swimming outfit is ideal if they’re learning to swim. If your child has fair skin, make sure theyn wear a swim shirt to protect them from the harsh sun rays.
- Kids 5 years and upwards:Kids swimsuits come in every style, colour and pattern imaginable. Little girls are spoilt for choice with one and two-piece swimsuits, and boys can select from a variety of briefs, shorts and swimming trunks. As your daughter reaches teenage hood, make sure she has a bra in her swimming costume. And even though they might not want to, keep their skin covered if it’s sensitive with a swim shirt. And check that they have a cover up for after swimming.
Size does matter
It’s important that kids swimwear fits well – if not, they will feel uncomfortable and won’t enjoy their time in the water. Before you buy, make sure the swimwear fits your child. In fact, you can measure your kid before you go shopping, so that you know what size you’re looking for.
Measuring girls: Make sure to measure under the arms, around the back and bust, and also the waist, hips and inseam. Take note of your child’s weight and height, too, as tall or larger kids may well need a longer suit, and petite kids may need swimming gear that is one size smaller.
Measuring boys: Measure around the waist to get the perfect fit for shorts for boys and girls. If the kid is between sizes, or the waist of the shorts is too tight, it’s better to take one size bigger, as the shorts must fit comfortably round the waist. Remember: elasticated waists are the most comfortable, although a drawstring waist will give the perfect custom fit.
World-wide, swimming outfit brands either offer size guidelines based on age or sizing that ranges from extra-small (XS) to extra-large (XL). We have compiled the following guide to make it easy for you:
- 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 to 10 years – with a 24 to 25.5-inch waist
- L – 11 to 12 years – with a 26 to 27.5-inch waist
- XL – 13 to 14 years – with a 28 to 30-inch waist.
Ask yourself these questions before you shop
Before you buy swimsuits for kids, or make a product for your small business, ask yourself the following questions:
- How does the suit fit?
Can your kid swim easily in the swimsuit? Make sure that the bathing costume is made from a quality fabric that enables them to move easily and that fits well. If your kid is wearing a one-piece, the mid-section needs to offer mobility.
- Is the fabric durable?
Pool chlorine and saltwater both wear out any swimsuit – this is another reason to look for quality fabric that will be resistant to chemicals and last for a long time. Choose a swimsuit made from a nylon or Poly/spandex fabric with a polyester lining, as these fibres are designed to resist chlorine and saltwater.
- Does the garment dry fast?
Wet swimsuits are always heavy and uncomfortable. As kids enjoy spending hours in the water, it’s important that fabric used to make the costume dries quickly. To keep the garment lasting longer, rinse the swimsuit after use, then dry and store away till next time.
- Does the fabric feature UV protection?
Water reflects the sun, so your child’s skin is very vulnerable whilst the kid is swimming in the pool or the sea. Kids swimsuits should be made of fabric with a UPF50 rating, as this will block 98% of the sun’s rays. To give your kid the best sun protection, make sure you apply sunscreen to your child’s skin as well. Remember: even when the sun isn’t shining or is hiding behind a cloud, harsh UV rays are still likely to penetrate the skin.
What is the best swim fabric for kids?
Your kids need the best possible swimsuits when they swim. Although they aren’t competing in the Olympics, they still need the best quality swim fabric available.
Choose fabric that will keep them comfortable while they learn to swim and have fun in the water. Once you’ve considered fit, wearability and how the fabric stretches on the body, think carefully about the type of fabric you choose for kids swim events.
Different types of fabric for swimsuits
Technology has enabled us to create fabrics that protect the skin against harmful pool chemicals, keep out the harsh sun rays and are comfortable and long-wearing.
As different fabrics feature different properties, you need to look at the different types of fabric available to decide what is perfect for your kids swimsuit. We make most swimming gear out of a blend of different fabrics, and here we discuss the most common fabric types:
A combination of spandex and lycra, Elastane swimming items fit well and are extremely popular for swimsuits for adults and kids. It’s very long-wearing and comfortable, too. The best elastane swim fabric blend only includes around 10 to 20% elastane in the mix.
These fabrics are certainly not as popular as they used to be, when all swimsuits were made from either wool or cotton. Nowadays, synthetic fabrics are the popular choice for swimming gear.
You can still buy swimsuits made of natural fabrics – they’re cheaper than synthetic alternatives, but don’t last as well or keep their shape after a swim.
They also don't wear particularly well and are often damaged by sun, salt water and pool chemicals. However, they are more sustainable.
Technically we don’t call neoprene a fabric at all, despite people often using it to manufacture wetsuits and some types of swimwear.
This fibre stays close to the skin and keeps the body warm. We use it for swimming in open waters, which isn't something a kid is likely to do. But kids may land up wearing these for snorkelling.
We make this material out of insulated foam. It’s soft, comfortable and not slippery at all during a swim.
Another very popular fabric for swimsuits, nylon is light, smooth, soft and fits well. However, it’s not resistant to chlorine or UV rays and doesn’t wear as well as polyester. This swim fabric doesn’t absorb water easily, is extremely elastic, washes well and dries quickly.
Manufacturers blend nylon with other fabrics like elastane to create swimsuits that are comfortable and stretch well.
PBT (Polybutylene terephthalate)
This fabric features plastic yarn fibre. It’s smooth, matte and light with an excellent stretch. It’s very popular for competitive swim events. The fabric repels pool chemicals and is resistant to UV rays. It’s easy to wash and dries quickly, comfortable and doesn’t pill.
The majority of summer swim fabric includes polyester in the mix – and for good reason. Polyester protects the skin from pool chemicals like chlorine as well as UV rays. It’s also long-wearing and fits comfortably.
We often mix polyester with lycra for swimwear. It's a popular swim fabric choice for those who compete in swim events. Colour prints beautifully on this fabric. Swimsuits are comfortable and soft, don’t shrink or pill, dry quickly when washed and breathe well. They also doesn’t absorb water during a swim.
The most durable suits for a swim will be a blend of fabrics. Polyester blended with elastane or PBT will be the most ideal for competitive swimmers. These suits will last longer, hold their shape the best, resist damage from UV rays and chlorine, and aid your movement in the water.
What to look for when you choose fabric for swimming
Swimming costume fabric has to tick a number of boxes. It needs to be:
- Hard wearing
- Flexible so that the body can move whilst wearing it
- Able to wick away moisture
- Resist fading
- Can withstand sun exposure, chlorine and salt water
- Will stop water drag.
Lycra is a favorite choice for kids swimsuits, so read our excellent guide on What is Lycra? right here.
If you intend making your own children’s swim outfits or want to make swimwear products for your small business, make sure to read our guide on How to sew stretchy fabric.
Explore maake’s fabric deals
The best swimwear fabrics for end sale price from maake. Save money as all are at a great price. Orders and shipping take just a few days. Pick up some of these and include them in your shopping cart!
This lightweight lycra fabric is a blend of polyester and elastane. It’s a favourite choice for kids swimming gear. It’s smooth to the touch and has an excellent stretch; you can pull it in any direction and it will spring back to its original shape.
The print face and backing are identical and colours print vibrantly on its white polyester base. A great swim fabric.
This stretchy fabric is a blend of recycled polyester (rPET) and elastane with a silver foiled dot effect. It’s popular for all sorts of activewear, swimwear included. People often choose it because it is more sustainable than other polyester blends. Colours print vibrantly on this fabric, which is certified child-safe.
This sustainable fabric blend features 78% recycled polyester and 22% elastane. We often choose this lightweight lycra swim fabric for all activewear, and because it’s sustainable and hard wearing. Colours print vibrantly and strong on this fabric.
A soft double-knit fabric that is a special combination of polyester and elastane fibres. It is very similar to neoprene. Made of polyester and elastane, thisi fabricis similar to neoprene. It’s ideal for swimming as it’s easy to care for and long-lasting with a springy, smooth feel.
This mid-weight 100% recycled polyester wicking sports jersey is great for rash vests and swimming shirts. It’s a very popular fabric for the summer sports and outdoor market, and prints beautifully.
The heaviest lycra fabric in the maake range, so this polyester fabric is perfect for all activewear including swimwear. It’s a smooth, stretchy fabric that can be pulled in any direction and springs back to shape every time. Print face and backing are the same and colours print vibrantly on this material.
Printing on polyester fabric at maake
Our polyester printing requires no water used in the printing process. All inks meet Oeko-tex requirements and pass EN71-3 certification. For more information on Fabric Certification, check out or extensive guide right here.
Choosing fabric colours, styles and patterns
When you choose kids swimwear, don’t forget to take your child’s personality, likes and dislikes into account before you choose you colours, patterns and designs for swimwear and accessories.
If you’re shopping online, remember: what you see on the screen isn’t necessary what will arrive ondelivery day. Computer screens show colour deceptively, so be careful with your colour choices. You’ll notice that when we give descriptions of our fabrics, we often add details about how colour will print on that particular fabric to make sure you have an idea of what to expect. Alternatively, why not buy a Sample book? It features swatches of all the fabrics we offer so that you can see exactly what your choice of fabric will look like when you print on it.
To give you more inspiration and all the information you need about colour, check out our informative blog An Introduction to Colour Theory and the Color Wheel.
Design the perfect products
You know which fabric will suit your kids swimwear best. Now design your kids swim outfits that are exclusive and unique! As a plush bonus, ordering and shipping takes just a few days, so shop now!
Alternatively, check out our Design Library, which offers more than 15,300 exceptional designs by independent artists. Each time you choose a pattern, the artist gets paid.