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FUN IN THE SUN: CHOOSING UV CLOTHES AND SWIMWEAR FOR KIDS

Get ready for some summer fun - all season long! We spend much more time outdoors on warm, sunny days, which means more exposure to the sun. Kids will happily play for hours in direct sunlight, not realizing the danger their thinner, more sensitive skin is in.

Finding the right sunscreen to slather on is high on the priority list for parents in summer. Dermatologists recommend that children over six months wear sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or higher whenever exposed to sunlight. Babies under six months old can't wear sunscreen and so should stay in the shade - wearing a brimmed hat and keeping them under a parasol is a good way to limit their sun exposure.

UV clothes protection: how it works

Sun protection isn't limited to sunscreen. Choosing UV clothes and swimsuits that are designed to be worn in the sunshine can keep your little one safe. UV protection swimwear adds an extra layer of protection that doesn't weaken throughout the day. Just pop on the UV clothing, and it keeps their skin nice and safe from those harmful rays. This is particularly handy if you plan on being outside for long periods of the day, like swimming or playing on the beach.

Sun-protective clothing is specially designed with a unique weave that blocks sunlight, and some textiles and fabrics are treated with UV-inhibiting ingredients to make them even more effective. The garment's UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) measures the amount of UV radiation that can penetrate fabric and reach the skin. A regular cotton shirt offers a protection factor of about UPF 5; however, sun rays can still get through the tiny holes in the fabric.

Clothing with a UPF rating of at least 30 gets the Skin Cancer Foundation's Seal of Recommendation, while anything from 30-49 is considered good protection. UPF 50+ is the maximum rating that blocks 98 percent of the sun's rays, allowing just two percent to get through.

Choosing UV garments for children

There are many factors other than the UV clothes level of protection to consider when picking sun-protective summer wear. The fabric should be durable and comfortable while flexible enough to move while they're playing. It should also wick away moisture, so they don't get wet and feel damp and uncomfortable for the rest of the day.

Swimsuits should fit well to avoid discomfort and, let's face it, embarrassment (even if they don't realize it!). Suits shouldn't be too loose or saggy, and at the same time, they shouldn't be too tight. Garments that are too tight may stretch and offer less sun protection. If you're buying online, look at the different size charts and read other customer reviews to see what they say about the brand's fit.

Don't be tempted to size up. If they find a swimsuit they really adore, you could instead get it in a couple of sizes in the event your little one has a summer growth spurt.

If they're old enough, involve them in choosing the garments, so they get something they love. Like grown-ups, kids want to feel cool in their clothes and find a style that suits them - or who they want to be!

Once you're set with the swimsuit and UV clothes, it's time to top off the look with pieces like a sun hat and sandals. Flip flops are good if there isn't a lot of walking involved; otherwise, kids' summer shoes should be more durable and sturdy enough to protect their feet while playing and running.

A pair of UPF sunglasses are the perfect finishing touch. Like the rest of them, kids' eyes aren't yet fully developed. Their larger pupils may allow up to 70% more UV rays to enter the retina than a grown-up's eyes. It's essential to pick a pair of sunglasses that block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays. Make sure the label specifies the sunglasses block both types of rays, as merely offering 'UV protection' isn't sufficient.

Caring for swimwear and UV-clothing

Taking care of the UV clothes and swimwear ensures they continue to be effective. Read the label and follow the care instructions to ensure the garments last as long as possible. In general, UV clothes and swimsuits can be washed with your other garments using a regular detergent and go in the tumble dryer on low to medium heat. It's not the end of the world if it shrinks a little in the dryer - this can actually make it even more effective at blocking the sun's rays!

It's helpful to know that chlorine and saltwater will impact the fabric differently from freshwater. Chlorine tends to fade colors and may cause materials to disintegrate after a few uses. Salty water doesn't cause the items to disintegrate in the same way but can lead to the color fading. Rinsing the swimsuit after every use to remove chlorine or salt residue can prevent fading and disintegrating. Some people also recommend dipping the swimsuit in water and vinegar before first using it.

Now that you’re clued up on UV clothing and swimwear - all that’s left to do is put it to the test!


More guiding inspiration

To the left, sleeping baby with white pyjamas and green small dots thogether with a matching hat. In the middle, white pyjamas with small pink flowers on together with a matching hat and blanket. To the right, baby cravling in the bed with the same pyjamas as in picture one.