Help your little swimmer make a splash at the beach or in the pool with the smartest swimwear.

Nothing says “summer’s coming” quite like shopping for swimwear for kids. Whether you’re hitting the beach or just popping to the local pool, cladding your kids in swimwear that’s comfy – but oh-so-cool – is a must for maximum summer fun.

Not all swimwear is created equal, though. From cossies that stay soggy instead of drying fast when you’re between dips, to swimsuits that shrink, fade or endlessly ride up, we’ve all known the misery of swimwear that just doesn’t do the job.

Thankfully, kids’ swimwear has changed, and the days of woollen trunks (yes, they used to be a thing) are long-gone. These days, kids’ swimwear is stylish, practical and robust. From poolside togs made of recycled plastic to swimsuits with sun protection built into the fabric, it’s possible to save the planet and stay sun-safe in the water at the same time.

Ultimately, your kid is the one who’ll be wearing whatever poolside attire you decide on, so make sure it passes the cool test before you buy. Our little testers surprised us with their choices when it came to the swimwear they liked the most. Don’t assume you know what your child will like; gauge their keen level before you buy.

A word of caution: if your child is nervous of the water or scared of getting in the pool, be sure to let them have a say in the swimwear you choose. Our five-year-old tester went from wailing about swimming lessons to counting down the hours until she could splash about and show off her new cossie.

Fabric is important, of course. Aside from comfy togs, you’ll want swimwear that’s easy to care for, and we reckon anything recycled is extra-worthy of your attention. Why wear snazzy trunks when you can wear snazzy trunks with inbuilt eco-credentials?

Price matters, too. You can spend anything from a few quid to a day’s wage on swimwear for kids. Factor in that kids grow fast, so the average child’s swimsuit may only last one season. 

Finally, keep in mind that your kid will probably remember their childhood swimsuits forever, not least because of all the snaps of summer holidays. No pressure, but choosing swimwear they’ll look back on with pride is worth a few extra quid. No-one wants to be that kid whose only holiday memory is how itchy and uncool their swimsuit was.

Frugi guys and gulls board shorts: From £20, Frugi

Just the sight of these cheery board shorts is enough to make us feel summery, but they have built-in sun protection (UPF 50+) too. They’re so quick-drying – brilliant when kids are endlessly in and out of the water. We especially love the fabric – it has the softest fuzzy peach finish, yet these are made from recycled plastic bottles.

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Gap stripe swim one piece: £13.97, Gap

If you’re looking for a no-nonsense one-piece swimsuit for a sporty girl who wants minimal frills and fuss, this is it. It’ll help protect skin from the sun thanks to the UPF 40+ rating, too.

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Skye & Staghorn astin rashie full piece in forbode: £48.43, Skye & Staghorn

What’s not to love about a swimsuit with long sleeves? Our five-year-old tester adored this – so much so that she insisted on wearing it in an indoor heated pool in May, but we think it would be brilliant on the beach for extra protection from sun and wind. The fabric is lovely – lightweight and breathable, and the zip down the front is the coolest thing about it. If you’re five years old.

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Sainsburys mini me white spotted swimsuit: £7.50, Sainsburys

We’re not ashamed to say that our favourite thing about this swimsuit is the fact that a co-ordinating adult version is available, so you and your mini me can be matchy-matchy on the beach. We like the textured fabric, and the frilly neckline and cross-loop back are lovely extra design features. Unbeatable value for money, too.

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The original Konfidence swim jacket: £24.99, Konfidence

This is a buoyancy swimming aid rather than a swimsuit, but we’ve included it because it made a remarkable difference in helping our five-year-old tester feel more confident about getting in the water. It’s made from neoprene so it offers a bit of warmth too, and we love the bright yellow back which helps parents keep an eye on their kids on a crowded beach or in a busy pool.

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Joseph and Alexander London vs New York trunks: From £44.43, Joseph and Alexander

Perfect for style-conscious teens, these board shorts feature iconic landmarks from London and New York. They offer UPF 45+ protection and are made from recycled fabric, plus the company donates 10 per cent of its profits to the charity Plastic Oceans UK.

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Fat Face under the sea swimsuit: £14, Fat Face

This swimuit ticks all our boxes. It’s sporty yet stylish, colourful but not garish, and brilliant value for money. The fabric washes well without fading, and it dries pretty quickly.

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Isbjörn of Sweden sun jumpsuit: £45, Isbjörn of Sweden

We love this sun jumpsuit because it’s just a little bit different from all other swimwear out there. It offers UPF 50+ and it’s just the ticket for covering up and keeping sun safe for a day on the beach. The fabric isn’t too thick, so you don’t need to worry about overheating, and it’s colour resistant to salty water, chlorine and sun.

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Joules briony pink striped swimsuit: £22, Children Salon

This was another firm favourite with our five-year-old tester. She’s not ordinarily a fan of girly pink or frills, but this seemed to pass muster on both counts. All Joules swimwear is sun protective with UPF50+, so it’s another good choice if you’re off to sunnier climes.

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Next red shark print swim shorts: From £10, Next

We think these swim shorts are unbeatable value. They’re functional and well-fitting, but the colourful print also means they’re easy to spot in a sea of kids on a busy beach. The drawstring waist is easy to adjust, and they wash well without fading.

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JoJo Maman Bébé crab one-piece sun protection suit: £20, JoJo Maman Bébé

A UV sunsuit is ideal for keeping tots cool and safe in the sun at the same time. It’s perfect for babies and toddlers as it’s lightweight but helps keep skin safe from sunburn, so playtime in the sun can last for as long as they like. This dries superfast, too.

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Olaian junior surf poncho: £12.99, Decathlon

Us parents snuck this 100 per cent cotton poncho towel in because it’s just so good for drying off after swimming. Press studs on the sides and collar make it easy for youngsters to put on and take off – our five-year-old tester managed with ease – and it’s impressively absorbent. This is an essential for the beach or pool.

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Boots Mini Club Fearne swimming costume: £10, Boots

Exclusively designed by Fearne Cotton for Boots Mini Club, we love this chic little swimsuit. It has just the right amount of frilliness, and the contrast bow detail at the back is very cute. The fabric quality is particularly lovely, with a good amount of stretch. And it’s only a tenner.

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Boden surf bikini set: From £22, Boden

Of all the two-piece swimsuits we tested, this one is by far our favourite. Some kids’ bikinis can be impractical, but not this one. It even withstood trampolining between paddling pool sessions, so it’s the perfect stylish yet sporty choice for active kids who don’t want to swelter in a one-piece swimsuit in the sun.

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The verdict: Kids’ swimwear

We love Frugi’s guys and gulls board shorts. As with all Frugi’s clothes, the attention to detail is brilliant – the lightweight mesh lining, elasticated waistband and adjustable drawcord make these especially comfy. We love that cute seagull print, and the fabric is chlorine-safe, so it won’t fade. For girls, our favourite swimsuit is Gap’s stripe swim one piece because it’s practical yet pretty without being overly girly. Finally, Skye & Staghorn’s astin rashie full piece is a game-changer in the style stakes.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.