15 best kids' swimwear

Make sure your summer holiday goes swimmingly with gear for everyone from toddlers to teenagers

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The Independent Online

Kids love swimming, and no more so than in the summer holidays when (hopefully) the sun’s out. Read on to find out what’s the best children’s swimwear for the season ahead, from waterproof nappies for little ones to swimshorts and tankinis for teenagers – and everything in between.

1. Boden Swim Trunks: £10.50, Boden


Some kids prefer snugger fitting trunks (as do most swimming teachers, who tend to hate baggier board shorts, which can get in the way of streamlined swimming) and these are easily the most comfortable, true-to-size ones we’ve found. Available in stripes, stars, shark or dinosaur print, they are machine washable and SPF50. 12 months to 12 years.

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2. Beanie and Bear Tankini: From £26 for tops, from £32 for bottoms, Beanie and Bear


This company was founded by children’s illustrator and mum, Noya Bewai, who has created a collection of high-quality two-piece swimwear suits in playful prints and bold colours, which can be worn as a set or in mix-and-match styles. They’re not cheap, but they’re gorgeous and last well, making great hand-me-downs. Three to 12 years.

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3. Next Multi Surfboard Print Swimshorts: from £10, Next 


You’ll be hard pushed to find a cooler water sport than surfing, making these shorts that feature multi coloured surfboards instantly appealing to all ages. The elasticated waist keeps them comfy and they are true to size. We found the colours didn’t fade with washing. Three to 11 years. 

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4. MC2 Saint Barth Girls’ Flamingo and Leaf Print Suit: £28, Chocolate Clothing 


We love the flamboyant flamingo and leaf print, as well as the vibrant colours, unusual cut and silky feel of this pink, green and yellow swimsuit from MC2. Not for shrinking violets, it’s a real standout piece, both from the front and back. It does come up small and is hand wash only, however. Two to 12 years. 

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5. Frugi Sun Safe Set: £26, Frugi


Research shows that five or more sunburns in youth can increase their lifestyle melanoma risk by up to 80 per cent. So it’d be a wise move to cover up more of their skin with this cheery and comfy set, featuring long-sleeved rash vest and long shorts. There’s other matching swimwear, including swim hats, in the same range. Two to 10 years.

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6. The Original Konfidence Jacket: £24.99, Konfidence


It can be terrifying for parents to watch their little ones go into the water when they don’t yet have the confidence or skills to swim properly. This hi-vis jacket, made of soft neoprene fabric for warmth and comfort, incorporates eight float pockets around the torso, which you remove in pairs to reduce the buoyancy as they become better swimmers. This is just one of many designs. 18 months to seven years.

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7. Mothercare Aquarium Sunsafe: from £13, Mothercare


Kids will love this all-over sea life print, while the long sleeves, legs and high neck in SPF40 fabric will do a grand job of protecting them from young skin from the sun. The zip fastening makes it easy to get on and off and it washes really well too. Three months to five years.

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8. George Star Wars Swimshorts: £6, Asda


We love this original take on the Star Wars design, which will be an instant hit with any young fans. The fabric is on the thin side, but that can be a good thing when you’re trying to swim fast and not let heavy material get in the way. Four to 14 years.

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9. River Island Girls’ Pink Floral Print Swimsuit: £14, River Island 


This hippy-influenced pattern harps back to the 1960s and 1970s and will appeal to girls of all ages. The halterneck will make them feel more grown-up, while the material is 100 per cent nylon and washes like a dream, coming out of the machine almost dry and ready for re-wear. Three to 12 years. 

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10. Monsoon Honalulu Swimsuit: £9.60, Monsoon


This tropical-themed costume is true to size, fits well and looks pretty, with a cut-out back with bow decoration. There are lots of other pieces in the range too, including flip flops, waterproof shorts and top, jumpsuit, towelling cover-up and drawstring bag. Three to 13 years.

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11. JoJo Maman Bebe Swim Nappies: £12, JoJo Maman Bebe


These dispensable swim nappies are just the ticket for babies. Unlike other baby swimwear, you don’t need another nappy underneath and they are reusable, and machine washable at 30 degrees. The cotton feels nice and soft against baby skin and you can get sun hats to match. Up to 12 months.

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12. Bluezoo Boys’ Navy Wave Print Shorts: From £10, Debenhams 


These swim shorts have an all-over print, featuring crashing waves against a navy blue background, that cleverly appeals to all age groups. The contrasting drawstring in lime green adds a splash of colour. The waistband is elasticated and our little testers told us they were very comfy. Four to 14 years. 

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13. FatFace Shark Species Rashie: £12, FatFace


Once boys reach a certain age, they point blank refuse to wear all-in-one swimwear. Rash vests are a great alternative, protecting the upper body from the sun’s harmful rays. We love this high-necked, shark print one, with SPF40 fabric. Matching shorts and towelling cover-up also available. Four to 13 years.

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14. John Lewis Nautical Sunpro All-in-one Swimsuit: £16, John Lewis


There aren’t many all-in-ones that girls up to 12 will wear, but as this one looks like a funky wetsuit, it’s a winner for all ages, protecting their skin from the sun. The stretch fabric, which reaches up to the neck, washes well. Two to 12 years. 

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15. M&S Jungle Swim Short: £8, Marks & Spencer


These affordable shorts have an adorable jungle theme set against a navy background that little boys will love and which will soon become a staple of this summer’s holiday. They are comfy and wash beautifully. Up to three years.

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If you’ve got the money, Beanie and Bear is a great brand to watch, and we love their bold and vibrant tankinis. Our testers loved the Boden Swim Trunks, which come in a range of fun colours and patterns – and the good news is swim teachers approve of them too.

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