While beach holidays abroad are looking uncertain again this summer, back garden summers with paddling pools and barbecues or the occasional trip to the coast are just as enticing. And shop fronts are filling up with summer wardrobe offerings, including a bounty of swimwear for little ones.
This round-up of girls’ swimsuits will focus on style, fit, quality and any sun protection benefits. We wanted to see fun but comfortable garments that would make long days playing in paddling pools, at the lido or on the beach even better. We also looked closely at how easy it would be to put on for girls who are old enough to dress themselves but aren’t perhaps used to navigating elaborate straps or zips.
We looked carefully at seams and fixtures – not only for the comfort factor but also because swimsuits need to be resilient: chlorine, sun exposure and sea salt all lead to more wear and tear than normal clothing has to endure.
As always we’ve tried to include swimsuits to suit all budgets, lifestyles and tastes, with everything from nods to retro bathing to sporty sets.
Some swimsuits use materials that have integrated sun protection and others are made with longer sleeves. However, this doesn’t negate the need for sun cream or sun hats. Whichever swimsuit your little one wears they should always be slathered in high factor cream.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
The best swimsuits for girls are:
- Best overall – Next long sleeve swimsuit: £16, Next.co.uk
- Best for baby girls – JoJo Maman Bebe swimsuit with nappy: £18, Jojomamanbebe.co.uk
- Best two piece – Frugi tidal tankini: £20, Welovefrugi.com
- Best for surfer girls – Joules shoal rash vest set: £27.95, Joules.com
- Best eco-friendly swimsuit – Mini Rodini cherry lemonade UV swimsuit: £50, Minirodini.com
- Best for understated style – Kidly long sleeve swimsuit: £14.50, Kidly.co.uk
- Best value for money – Lindex swimsuit with lions: £9.99, Lindex.com
- Best for retro style – Cath Kidston gingham ladybug peplum swimsuit: £14.08, Cathkidston.com
- Best for comfort – M&S seersucker swimsuit: £14.50, Marksandspencer.com
Next pink floral long sleeve swimsuit
With sleeves right down to the wrists, this looks more like a leotard than a traditional swimsuit and means parents can be more relaxed about letting little ones play in the sun, not least because it also boasts 50+ UV fabric.
It does up with a zip at the front and, while our seven-year-old tester found it easy to put on and take off by herself, we think younger girls would find it a breeze, too. The pattern is really elegant and sophisticated.
JoJo Maman Bebe swimsuit with nappy
Best: For baby girls
Not only does this swimsuit feature a really sweet pattern but it’s really hard working too – there’s a built-in nappy, negating the need for a regular or swim nappy underneath. It will contain any accidents and all you do is wash it thoroughly after use. We found it true to size and our little tester seemed much more comfortable and free than when in nappies.
It’s available in a selection of fun prints too, making it a cute option for babies and toddlers. Not only this but it’s UPF50+, a welcome helping hand when it comes to preventing sunburn.
Frugi tidal tankini
Inspired by the small minke whales found in the waters surrounding Scotland, this tankini is playful, fun and, thanks to its stretchy nylon and elastane material (UPF40+), it’s really comfortable too.
We are totally here for the cross-over straps, which mean they won’t be constantly slipping over the shoulders – a common problem with straight straps on younger children. Not only this but the mesh lining and the flat seams both ensure an easy wear without the risk or chafing or irritation.
We really rate this sort of two-piece when it comes to children’s swimwear as it’s got a sporty shape that prevents it from being too grown up.
Joules shoal rash vest set
Best: For surfer girls
Our six-year-old tester fell in love with this set on sight – and we can see why. It has all the ingredients to be a winning summer staple from the awesome colour combo – bubble-gum pink and baby blue – to the long sleeved vest (UPF40+) with its high neck, which helps prevent sunburn and make surfing, bodyboarding and other beach-based activities as stress-free as possible.
The quality is notable – the seams are beautifully rendered and appear built to last – there’s no chance of this falling apart before the summer is through.
Mini Rodini cherry lemonade UV swimsuit
Best: Eco-friendly swimsuit
We understand that the price tag is hardly modest but, for a garment from a cult designer with top-notch eco credentials, we think this is worth it. The only thing we’re sad about is that there isn’t an adult version. And be warned – everyone will ask where it’s from!
As is always the case with Mini Rodini, the pattern on this suit is terrific and there is a wider range of matching pieces if you fancy going all out.
But aside from being a treat for the eyes, this swimsuit has much to recommend, not least the fact that it is made responsibly using UPF50+ Econyl yarn, which is essentially old fishing nets, carpets, and production waste. For anyone concerned about the welfare of the planet’s oceans and sea life, this is a small salve.
Kidly long sleeve swimsuit
Best: For understated style
Made from recycled nylon, this suit is a brilliant choice for eco-conscious shoppers. It has a lovely smooth finish – with UPF50+ protection and a zip fastening at the back – the neckline is high which is great for sun protection. We loved the frill detail on what is otherwise a totally understated swimsuit.
Lindex swimsuit with lions
Best: Value for money
At under £10 this swimsuit is nothing short of a total bargain. It has an offbeat and unusual pattern of palm trees and lions, and despite the low price point, it appears to be beautifully made and of decent quality. Not only this but it is partially made up of recycled materials, so anyone concerned with contributing to fast fashion or putting pressure on the environment can rest easy. We love the cross back which keeps the suit in place and comfortable.
Cath Kidston gingham ladybug peplum swimsuit
Best: For retro style
Gingham is always a good idea when it comes to swimwear – it brings a chic, retro vibe that never looks dated. We love the repeat ladybird motif, too, which ensures there’s a helping of playfulness to any little girl’s beachwear.
The straps are slim and the back fairly low so make sure you are careful with the sizing as this runs the risk of falling down if too big. Our four-year-old tester loves this suit – it’s even been worn in the supermarket on a rainy day.
M&S seersucker swimsuit
Best: For comfort
Seersucker – a textured stretch cotton – is always a nod to sun-kissed summers. This suit is so soft and tactile which is exactly what little ones need for long days on the beach or by the paddling pool. It has plenty of give in it without being baggy and it’s thoroughly breathable, too.
Our tester, who is almost five, was delighted by the frill straps and low back which are accents that feel grown-up without being too mature.
The verdict: Swimsuits for girls
The best all rounder is the Next long sleeve suit: it’s comfortable, pretty, protective and inexpensive. We were also delighted to discover the Lindex suit – what a bargain, especially as it is eco-conscious too. And the integrated nappy on the Jojo Maman Bebe suit is a must-have for any little ones who are not yet potty trained.
For the latest offers on kids’ clothing and holiday essentials, try the links below:
While they’re having fun in the sun, make sure your child’s sensitive skin is protected with the best kids’ sunscreens
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