Because kids are constantly growing, keeping their wardrobe stocked can be a tricky endeavor. And a swimsuit might last two seasons maximum if you’re lucky. With the number of bargain swimsuits on the market, it certainly isn’t difficult to find new boys’ or girls’ swimsuits when they need one, but that doesn’t mean the swimsuit you find will be worth your money. Many swimsuits — even expensive ones — aren’t built with safety in mind. And when it comes to swimwear, there’s a huge danger lurking among all the fun everyone is having: the sun.
You wouldn’t spend hours in the sun without sun protection, so why would you let your kids, especially considering how sensitive their skin is? To better protect your little ones, here are five reasons you should choose sun protection swimwear.
There are two types of ultraviolet (UV) radiation that come from the sun: UVA and UVB radiation. UVA rays have less energy than UVB rays, but they can still damage skin cells. They also play a role in skin cancer but are mostly associated with long-term skin damage and sun exposure. In contrast, UVB rays have more energy than UVA rays and can directly damage the DNA in skin cells. UVB rays are also responsible for sunburn and most skin cancers. In short, radiation from the sun is dangerous, and we need to take all precautions to make sure we’re only getting the good stuff from the sun, like vitamin D, instead of the bad stuff.
UPF stands for ultraviolet protection factor. You’ve probably seen it assigned to sunscreens, but UPF is also assigned to high-quality swimwear. The UPF number represents the number of UV rays the fabric blocks, with a larger number indicating more rays the fabric protects you from. For example, if you have a swimsuit that is marked SPF 20, that meansn1/20th of the sun’s UV rays can make it through. If you have a swimsuit that's marked SPF 50, it means that only 1/50th of the sun’s UV rays can penetrate the fabric. The higher the number, the less sunscreen you have to lather on your child as they squirm about, anxiously waiting to jump into the water.
Did you know that children’s skin is 1/5th the thickness of adult skin? Kids’ skin is very sensitive, especially when they are very young. Because it’s so thin, it isn’t as capable of protecting itself against all the nasty environmental factors out there in the world. It also gets sunburned much more quickly the younger they are. A toddler spending an hour in the sun could get a bad sunburn, while you might just get a rosy glow. Kids, and especially toddlers, need sun protection swimwear, toddler rash guards, or at least sunscreen that blocks UV rays. Using a combination of sunscreen and sun protection swimwear is ideal.
We admit it: Sun protection isn’t the only factor you’ll take into consideration when buying swimwear for your kids, especially if they have a particular sense of style. It needs to fit well and feel comfortable on their active little bodies too. Thankfully, swimwear has been perfected for a very long time, so there are many types of swimwear they’ll not only love, but they’ll be safer in.
One popular option for children’s swimwear is a rash guard. A rash guard is essentially a top that can be worn over a swimsuit, and it can be long-sleeved or short-sleeved. It dries super quickly and is lightweight as well, so it can be worn both in the water and out of it without weighing anyone down. Boys' rash guards, in particular, are great because they allow kids to wear more than just swim trunks in the sun.
As your kids get older, they might start to hang out with their friends during summertime or go on field trips, and you might not always be around to make sure they lather on sunscreen. But having sun protection swimwear for your kids will at least give you a little peace of mind. For example, swim trunks, rash guards, and tankinis for tweens made with SPF 50 protection will at least give them some coverage when they forget to apply sunscreen.
Having fun in the sun means being responsible too, and that’s especially true if you have kids. Be smart about their swimwear, and keep them safe all summer long.