Best kids’ swimwear 2018 – swimsuits, costumes, trunks and swim nappies

Whether for a fun summer holiday or serious swimming lessons - here are our picks of the very best children's swimwear, suitable for ages 6 months - 16 years

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As summer 2018 fast approaches, now’s the time to be thinking about what kind of swimsuit to buy for your little one.

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Are they still in the swim nappy/swim jacket stage? Perhaps they’ve become confident in the pool and are more interested in wearing their favourite cartoon characters on their cozzie?

Perhaps your biggest concern is sun protection, and you’re planning to buy long-sleeved swim tops or all-in-one swimsuits that carry the UPF50+ (the highest sun protection rating for clothing) mark?

Whatever you’re looking for, we’re here to help you find a swimsuit that’s right for your child.

Here are 25 of the best swimwear buys for kids in 2018…

1. Splash About New & Improved Happy Nappy, £10.99

kids swim nappy

MadeForMums Awards Gold Winner for Family Travel Product under £15

What it is: A nappy designed to be worn by babies and little ones during swimming sessions.

Why we love it: As an unforeseen leak during baby swimming can shut down a pool for an entire day, having the right protection for your little ones is crucial. It’s not much fun being responsible for ending everyone’s splash-about fun!

The new, improved reusable swim nappy by Splash About is fantastically practical and available in some wonderful designs. If you’re planning a holiday by the pool or sea, the Happy Nappy will save you from packing – or buying – a load of bulky disposable swim nappies.

Approved by 95% of UK swim schools, it’s designed to be worn alone and ensure a leak-free swim. It has specialist pressure fabric ribbing at the waist and legs to secure a comfortable seal, and a unique gusset that moves as baby moves.

It also provides UPF50+ sun protection and is quick drying, so it’s perfect for frequent dips during holidays.

What our MadeForMums Awards judges say about the Splash About Happy Nappy:

“Quick drying, lovely design, and comfortable for baby.” Laura Carter

“This is a wonderful product, easy to use. Perfect for the swimming pool.” Mum of 3, Meena

“The bands around the legs look so much comfier than the standard swim nappy! If you swim with your baby a lot, these would be a worthwhile investment.” Broadcaster and mum of 2 Sarah Cawood

Available from: Splash About and Amazon

2. Splash About Go Swim Vest, £17.99

splash about vest

MadeForMums Awards Joint Silver Winner for Family Travel Product £15-£30

Buoyancy aids can be very bulky, taking up precious suitcase space, but Splash About’s Go Splash Swim Vest is ideal for travel. It’s lightweight, compact and packs flat, so saves a lot of space. Crucially, however, it delivers great buoyancy to provide a safe, learn-to-swim experience for children.

The vest has puncture-proof foam floats around the chest and back and allows free movement and a natural swimming position.

It’s also quick drying, provides UPF50+ sun protection, and as with all Splash About products comes in wonderful designs – there’s sure to be one that appeals to your little swimmer.

What our MadeForMums Awards judges say about the Splash About Go Swim Vest:

“What a great product! Great design and great idea. The pattern was lovely and the fit was good for the age range. A fantastic way to keep your mind at rest as a parent but also have your child looking adorable!” Mum of 2, Jamie

“The Go Swim Vest is incredibly easy-to-use, just zip it up and let your kids splash about! We took this product on holiday and it’s light, easy to pack in a suitcase and the neoprene feels durable.

With UPF50+ sun protection, too, it gives you extra peace of mind that your child is safe in the sunshine as well as in the water.” Mum of 1, Ruth

Available from: Splash About and Amazon

3. Boots Baby Swim Pants, £3.05

boots swim pants

MadeForMums Awards Joint Bronze Winner for Family travel product under £15

Pack these swim pants into your luggage for a compact, go-to swim nappy that’s practical and comfortable. Boots Swim Pants are great for swimming, as the absorbent core protects from small accidents and they don’t swell up in the water like a normal nappy.

They’re also easy to pull on and off, and nabbed our MFM Awards Bronze Award for their simple, effective design.

What our MadeForMums Awards judges say about Boots Baby Swim Pants:

“We were looking forward to using the Boots Baby Swim Pants as our little one loves going in the water. The swim pants worked perfectly, there were no leaks and everything stayed in the nappy as it should until changing time. They come in a nice and fun colour, and our little one seemed to like them.” Mum of 2, Federica

“This is a great product, the swim pants seemed very comfortable and soft. The inside of these pants stayed dry throughout our entire swimming session. They seemed to keep their shape and comfort the whole time.” Mum of 2, Jamie

Available from: Boots

4. Sunuva Blue Paper Boat Floatsuit, £42

sunuva float suit

This charming suit has 8 lightweight floats around the middle – ideal for children who aren’t super confident in the water.

But we also like that you can keep the suit once the floats aren’t needed. They’re removable!

It’s also UPF50+ which means it protects from the sun’s ultravoilet rays while worn. Sun protective clothing + regular suncream applications = 👍👍👍

Sizes: 1 – 4 years

Available from: Sunuva

5. M&S 3-Piece, £20 – £24

3 piece marksies

This fun animal-print swimsuit set covers loads of your bases – you’ve got trunks, a sun hat which also covers the back of the neck, and a long-sleeved swim suit.

All you need is a pool float and some sunscreen and you’re good to go!

Size: 3 months – 7 years 

Available from: M&S

6. Speedo Colour Block Long Sleeve All In One Suit, £18

speedo colour block

If you’d prefer your little one remain fully covered up, classic swimwear brand Speedo have a range of colours available for their all-in-one swimsuit.

Speedo says this one’s designed to be comfy and stretchy, without losing its shape. It’s also supposed to be more suncream-friendly than typical fabrics.

Sizes: 6 months – 6 years

Available from: Speedo

7. My Little Pony Swimming Costume, £8

my little pony swimming costume

Is your little one My Little Pony obsessed? There are a few swimming costumes featuring Princess Sparkle and pals on the market right now.

We’ve included this well-priced one from George, for the added frill detail. Fun for the pool – local or abroad.

We should note that, like a lot of fancy dress costumes, you need to keep this cozzie “away from fire and flames”.

Size: 4 – 11 years

Available from: George at ASDA

8. Boden Sea Explorer Surf Suit, £26+

boden surf suit

Another great cover-up suit – this time for mini ‘surfers’. This one’s a 2-piece, so can be worn mix-and-match with other swimwear.

We love the gender neutral, yet still bright and poppy, fabric colours – but we’re really loving the fact it also provides UPF 50+ protection!

Size: 2 – 12 years

Available from: Boden

9. Animal Tannar Board Shorts, £19.99 – £22.99

animal board shorts

Board shorts for older kids who aren’t keen on rainbow prints or all-in-ones, from beachwear brand Animal.

Size: 3 – 16 years

Available from: John Lewis

10. Splash About Splash Jammers, £14.99

splash about

MadeForMums Awards Bronze Winner

What a great idea – a swim ‘nappy’ designed for potty training toddlers. These swim shorts provide all the protection and reassurance against accidents from the conventional Splash About swim nappies, but in a more grown-up design.

As swim schools often insist on leak-proof nappies up to the age of 3, going to the pool can often create a bit of set-back on the potty training front. These Splash Jammers bridge the gap between swim nappy and swimwear very nicely. 

They feature a high back and tapered waist to prevent gaping, and the longer leg has silicone bands for a good thigh seal. Our Bronze winner has filled a very real need with a great product.

What our MFM Awards judges say about Splash About Splash Jammers:

“I found the Splash About-Splash Jammers to be excellent in both quality and effectiveness. My little boy loved the shark design and it was very easy put on and take off.

“They felt very secure on and never once did I have a concern that any accidents might happen. I am extremely happy with this product and will buy one for my daughter.” Mum of 2, Brid

“This product is excellent. After my friend took her 3-year-old swimming and experienced a ‘code brown’ situation resulting in the pool being evacuated, I was nervous when taking my newly toilet trained three year old swimming.

“The design is fun and attractive and the sizing chart on the company website is very accurate. Overall an excellent product which I have already recommended to other mums.” Mum of 1, Natalie

Available from: Amazon and Splash About

11. Zoggs DC Swim Caps, £8

wonder woman dc swim caps

Zoggs’ silicone swim cap is perfect for keen swimmers. It’s shaped to fit the head, with a non-slippy surface inside.

There are 3 styles to choose from, too: Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.

Size: up to 14 years

Available from: Zoggs

12. Lands’ End Toddler Skirted Swimsuit, £18

smiley suit

Toddlers will look so adorable in this sunny, smiley swimming costume. It’s UPF50+ and fully lined (so it doesn’t go see through). It’ll dry quickly, too 🙌

Size: 18 months – 4 years

Available from: Lands’ End

13. Tu at Sainsbury’s Navy PJ Masks Sun Safe, £10+

pj masks swim suit

A supermarket suit alternative for small kids who love PJ Masks. So, literally, every child ever? 😂

Size: 1 – 6 years 

Available from: Tu Clothing

14. Polarn O. Pyret Two Tone UV Swimsuit, £30.40

polarn o pyret

UPF50 protection is just one feature of this Scandi swimsuit… there’s also the front zip with chin guard, and flat seams to help avoid irritating your little one’s skin.

Size: 2 – 6 years

Available from: John Lewis

15. John Lewis Dinosaur Print Poncho in Green, £16 – £18

dino poncho

Ponchos are ideal for keeping little ones warm and dry when they’re playing by the pool or the beach – but they’re not going in the water.

Plus they’re more likely to stay on than a towel!

This polyester one from John Lewis features long sleeves, front pouch, a cosy hood and a funky dinosaur design.

Size: 2 – 12 years

Available from: John Lewis

16. Nike Orange/Blue Spiderback Tankini, £23 – £28

nike tankini

For older kids who don’t favour frilly costumes, this is a nice and rather sporty tankini ideal for holidays or sporty swimming.

Size: 8 – 13 years

Available from:  Next

17. H&M Jurassic World Swim Top with UPF50, £9.99

jurassic world h&m

Not only is this top super cool and bang on trend for Summer 2018 (the new Jurassic World movie will be everywhere reaaaally soon), it’s also UP50 protective fabric.

Size: 2 – 10 years

Available from: H&M

18. Two Bare Feet Baby Neoprene Swim Float Vest, £11.99

two bare feet

A serious business swim jacket for children under 6 years – ideal if you want them to feel unrestricted by armbands as they get to grips with the water.

Comes in a classic red colour, and is made of ‘extra soft’ neoprene. The zip’s also pretty wide and the edges are soft – designed to help stop chafing.

Size: 1 – 6 years

Available from: Two Bare Feet

19. Mountain Warehouse Legionnaire Kids’ Swim Hat, £5.99

mountain warehouse

This hat is seriously well-priced at £5.99. The Mountain Warehouse sun hat comes in 3 colours – blue, green/pink and bright purple. It’s easy to fold, shove in a bag or store away.

It also covers your child’s neck and the fabric has a protective UPF50+ rating – the highest sun protection rating any item of clothing can get.

Size: One size

Available from: Mountain Warehouse

20. M&S 2-Piece Shark Swimsuit, £18 – £22

shark m&s suit

A cute and straightforward swimsuit for little ones, that’s got a little bit of lycra in it to make it stretchy and easy for your child to move in.

It does say to “keep away from fire and flames”.

Size: 3 months – 7 years

Available from: M&S

21. Huggies Little Swimmers Swim Pants, £5.30

huggies little swimmers

Much-loved nappy brand Huggies also have a swim nappy range in a variety of sizes.

Size: 2 – 6 years

Available from: Waitrose

22. Mothercare Pink Swim Jacket, £28

mothercare pink life jacket

This toddler jacket has a removable float, high grade neoprene fabric, a chunky zip, an internal zip guard and bonus: it’s “100% UV protective”.

That doesn’t mean you can forego the suncream on bare skin, though!

Size: 2 – 5 years

Available from: Mothercare

23. M&S Octopus Print Swim Shorts, £10 – £16

octopus shorts marksies

Funky trunks for toddlers to teenagers. Something a bit different to the Animal Tannar shorts which are a plain, dark colour.

Size: 3 – 16 years 

Available from: M&S

24. Sunuva Shell Lace Sash Vest, £39+

sunuva

UPF50+ sash vests for little ones aren’t always the most stylish swimwear available – so Sunvua’s lacy shell vest, in gorgeous green, and complete with natural coconut tassles, really ticks that box for us.

Size: 1 – 8 years, 13 – 14 years

Available from: Sunuva

25. Matalan Flamingo Tutu Swimming Costume, £7 – 8

flamingo

A mesh tutu? For the swimming pool? Madness, you could say. But we’d say this Matalan number featuring the uber-trendy flamingo is just the right amount of cute.

Plus, we like that it’s a purse-friendly option if you’re looking for a quirky costume.

Size: 3 months – 6 years

Available from: Matalan

Images: Product websites

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