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Safety of Toddler Swimsuits

by Christy Ayala
Most swimsuits that help your child float are swim aids rather than personal floatation devices and should only be used under close adult supervision.

Most swimsuits that help your child float are swim aids rather than personal floatation devices and should only be used under close adult supervision.

Parents, bombarded with choices, might find it difficult to choose the best swimsuit for their toddler. While advertisements for swimwear that claim to keep your child afloat or help him learn to swim can be especially tempting, you need to consider several factors when it comes to the safety of your toddler’s swimsuit.

Fit

Your toddler’s swimsuit should have a snug fit that prevents it from falling down or slipping off to avoid tripping or tangling her, but with enough room to fit over a swim diaper. The suit should be easy to remove for diaper changing or potty-training. The World Aquatic Babies and Children Network recommends that parents dress their little ones in a swimsuit that's snug-fitting to the leg to help prevent waterborne illnesses by minimizing the spread of body wastes into the water.

Floatation

Swimsuits that claim to keep your child afloat or to help him learn to swim should only be used under close supervision of an adult. Unless he is wearing a properly fitted Coast Guard certified personal flotation device, your toddler could be at a higher risk for drowning. Inflatable arm bands are toys, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, and should not be used in place of personal floatation devices, which are designed to keep your child’s face above the water, while foam or air-filled swimming aids may not.

Sun Protection

It’s important to protect your toddler from the sun, even on cloudy days. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, but even waterproof sunscreen needs to be continuously applied to provide protection. Wide-brimmed hats, swimsuits and rash guards, or swim shirts, made from a blend of lightweight, quick-drying materials such as nylon, spandex and Lycra will add an extra layer of protection to help guard your toddler’s skin from the sun’s UV rays. In addition to protecting her from the sun, a rash guard will help protect her skin from minor abrasions and other elements that can cause skin irritations such as jellyfish stings at the beach.

Warmth

Water doesn’t have to be especially cold to cause hypothermia, according to Mayo Clinic, adding that any water colder than normal body temperature can cause heat loss. While your little one should come out of the water to warm up if he is shivering or his lips are turning blue, the right swimsuit might help keep him warm in the water so he can enjoy it a little longer. A thermal swimsuit made of neoprene or even a long-sleeved rash guard -- swim shirt -- could help your toddler retain body heat while also protecting him from chilly breezes.

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