How to pick a kids rash vest + best rash guards for toddlers and kids 2021

girl wearing her pink rash guard playing with beach toys and pebbles

Do you need a kids’ rash vest? Why we recommend a rash guard for kids as a beach essential for families, how to pick one, best rash guards for kids you can buy online right now.

Dreaming of long days on the beach, with your kids blissfully playing in the sand and splashing in water? Me too, however, I can tell you the one thing I am not looking forward this summer: sunburn!

You always need to be careful in the sun, no matter how used to it you may be, but you have to be even more careful if, like us, you spend the winter in a sun-deprived country.

Your skin and even more that of your kids is simply not up for long sun exposure and it will get burned which is super painful and also dangerous.

Thankfully there are many ways to keep your toddlers and older kids safe from the sun: sun screen, baby sun tents and rash guards all come to the rescue to keep babies, toddlers and older kids sun- safe.

In this article we are going to share our chart of the best rash vests for kids currently available online, considerations on why we consider it beach essential for kids and reviews of the kids’ rash guards we like.

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Best rash guards for kids: chart

If you already know you want a rash guard for your child, this is a quick comparison table with out top pick.

You are not quite sure yet, scroll until after the table and we answer all your questions about rash guards for kids of all ages and give more detailed review of our top picks!

Uideazone long sleeve one-piece rashguard for infant/toddlerPoliesterBoys Long sleeve rash guard, one piece all bodyYes$
Danlaru baby and toddler one-piece rashguard and swimming suit Polyamide and ElastaneBoys/Girls Long sleeve rash guard, one piece all bodyYes$
SGMWVB Baby and Toddler Boys’ 3-Piece Swimsuit SetPolyamide and ElastaneToddler boy 2 piece swim set, trunks and rash vestYes$
 Baby Toddler Boys Two Pieces Swimsuit by ‘Best for all’Nylon and spandexToddler boy 2 piece swim set, trunks and rash vestYes$
Simple Joys by Carter’s Baby and Toddler Boys’ 2-Piece Swimsuit Trunk and RashguardPolyester and elastaneBoys short sleeve rash guardYes$
Simple Joy rash guard set for girlspolyester and elastaneGirl short sleeve rash guardYes$
Simple Joy one-piece swimsuit and rashguard for girlspolyester and elastaneone piece swim suit with long sleevesYes$
RuffleButts Baby/Toddler Girls UPF 50+ Sun Protection Long Sleeve One Piece Swimsuit with ZipperNylon and spandexGirl one piece rash guard swimsuitYes$
Rufflebuttas 2 pieces guard rash and swimsuit for girlsNylon and spandexLong sleeve rash vest and swimming bottom for girlsYes$
DIVE & SAIL Kids Rash Guard for watersportsPolyamide and ElastaneOne piece long sleeve long legs Yes$
Karrack Girls and Boy One Piece Rash Guard Swimsuit Kid Water Sport Short SwimsuitPolyester and spandexOne piece wetsuit style rash guard for kidsYes$

How to protect your child from sunburn: protective sun gear for kids on the beach

To keep your child safe from the sun is important to follow some basic rules: avoid direct sun exposure during the hottest hours of the day, get them to take breaks in the shade, use sun protection and protective clothing.

For a break from the sun, your beach umbrella or kids beach tent are great, while sun guards are great as a protective beach layer.

Sunscreen and sun tents are probably self-explanatory but if you are like me a few years ago you may be wondering: what on earth is a kid’s rash guard (also called rash vest)? 

A rash guard for kids is a protective vest for the beach that protects kids from sun exposure.

Kids rash guards are long sleeve items and they cover the trunk, shoulders and arms of your children: they are excellent as a complement to sunscreen or if you have kids who do not like sunscreen (but see below, you will still need some!)

Rash guards tend to fit snugly around the body as they are a surfing piece of gear to protect from the abrasion from sand and surfoards however, they are very good at protecting from the sun too so you can use them also as a swim vest.

They tend to come in several shapes and style. Kids rash vests for older kids who want to surf and do waterspouts tent to have long sleeves and fit snugly while rash vest primarily for sun protection are loser and even come with short sleeves.

Which ones to go for depends entirely on your preference and habit as both can work very well.

FAQ about rash guards for toddlers and kids

Are rash guards good for toddlers?

Rash guards are great for toddlers and they allow them to play in the sun and water without constant reapplication of sun screen – the one battle we could all do without!

Toddler trash guards also stay in place, meaning they don’t get washed away by the sea and sweat so they are usually more effective at protecting toddlers’ skin from sun rays than a lotion.

Need to know! While a rash guard is a great piece of protective kids gear for the beach, you will still need to apply sunscreen to exposed areas (legs, but also back of the neck and lower tummy/back where the shirt stops) – I usually put a reminder on my phone so I don’t forget!

What are rash guards good for? 

Rash guards are good for:

  • Protecting kids for sunburn creating a physical barrier between the sun rays and their skin
  • Protect your child’s skin from abrasion if they use boogie boards, surfing boards or other water equipment that can scratch their torso

Do you wear anything under rash guard?

Kids rash guards are worn like a normal shirt so all you need is their swimming trunks and a rash guard and you are ready to go.

With tight fitting ones, I get my kids to wear their usual swimsuit underneath (bottom part)

Do rash guard keep children warm? What is the best material for kids’ rash vests?

The idea of having an extra layer on an active child on the beach may have you wonder if they will overhear but rash guards are made for sun protection, not to keep them warm.

As a swim shirt, they will help a little with temperature while in the water however, if you are expecting cold waters then opt for a kids wetsuit instead.

Good quality rash guards for kids are lightweight and breathable – the best material for kids rash guards in terms of breathability is polyester and lycra as they offer breathability and moisture wicking.

In general, rash guards come in the following materials and combinations:

Polyester – great for breathability, not super stretching unless combined with an elasticated one

Lycra – great for breathability and stretching

Nylon -spandex: breathable and stretch, good especially for tight-fitting sports rash guards

Neoprene: this is usually for wetsuits and it is best if you also want some protection from cold waters.

toddler on the beach

Are rash guards the same as swim vests? 

Rash guard, swim vest and swim shirts are terms often used interchangeably. In general:

A rash guard is a top aimed at protecting the body during watersports and it tends to be snug fitting. A rash guard is also called a rash vest.

A rash shirt is loser fitting than a rash guard and it is for sun protection primarily.

If you are buying specifically for water sports, you need a rah guard while for sun protection either is fine.

What to look for when picking a rash guard for toddlers and older kids

UV protection – rash guards and rash shirts need to have UV protection properties to be effective. Do not just count on the extra layer, make sure there is proper protective rating.

Flat Stitching – No seams or very flat seams to prevent chafing, otherwise it defeats the purpose

Size – rash guards come in different styles, loose or tight-fitting. Tight-fitting ones are best for sports while loser ones are more like a swim shirt. For toddlers, I prefer the lose fitting ones so I get a more loose style or size up with more snug-fitting ones

Style – rash guards come in many different shapes and styles. For younger kids and very active ones into watersports, you can choose one piece swimsuits that zip up at the front and look a little like a wetsuit.

These are great for toddlers and active older kids and you can opt for a loose or tighter fit depending on use.

Many rash guards for kids come as a set with a top and a bottom: in this case you can opt for long or short sleeves, swimming trunks or girl swimsuits and even go for 3 pieces that come with swim trunk, stroppy top and outer layer.

The choice is entirely down to you taste as they can all work well!

Rash guards and rash vests for kids we like

Uideazone Little Boys Long Sleeve One Piece Swimsuit Rash Guard  – one piece rashguard for baby / toddler boys

A good rash guard for baby and toddler boys we like this one-piece, long sleeve rash guard suit by Uideazone. Find specs and prices here.

This is a baby and toddler rash guard suitable for 3 months to 24, it has long sleeves and short legs, comes with sunhat and it is rated UV50+ protection.

The legs are long enough to offer protection but they are not tight fitting like in older kids versions to offer your toddler more comfort.

This is a one-piece style item and it is easy to use as it has large grip front zipper that comes all the way down to the middle of your child’s trunk – great to put it on and of with little wriggling!

The rash guard is made of soft polyester and can be used at the pool or the beach. Several kiddie patterns available, in the ‘for boys’ range, sporting sharks, pirates, whales, stripes and more.

Similar rash guards for toddlers you may like:

Upandfast Baby/Toddler One Piece Zip Sunsuit with Sun Hat UPF 50+ Sun Protection Baby Swimsuit

Baby Toddler Boys Girls One Piece Swimsuit Rashguard FP50+

Simple Joys Baby and Toddler Boys’ 2-Piece Swimsuit (Trunk and Rashguardvest )

If you prefet a 2 piece type of swimsuit for your kid, than you may like this Simple rash guard + swim bottom set that comes with sleeve rash top and swimming trunks.

The rash set comes in several colors and patterns and those marketed for boys have nice stripes and marine themes such as sharks and anchors, on the tone of dark blue and red.

The rash guard has offers good sun protection thanks to UF50+ filters and it is made of soft polyester and elastane and has a soft neck so you can pull it over the head easily.

These are lovely sets and you can also just use the trunks which means it is versatile also for those moment when you may not need the rash vest.

Other swimming trunk + rash vest for boys you may like:

 Baby Toddler Boys Two Pieces Swimsuit by ‘Best for all’

SGMWVB Baby and Toddler Boys’ 3-Piece Swimsuit Set

Simple Joys by Carter’s Girls’ Assorted Rashguard Sets

A lovely long sleeve rashguard for toddler girls is this one by simple joy, which comes in several colors and patterns including this lovely dark green Hawaiian-themed one you see in the photo.

This girls rashguard is a two-piece swimming set and comes in several shapes and combinations: long sleeve top, short sleeve top, frilly bottom, one-piece swimsuit rashguard and even 3 pieces: bottom, strappy top and long sleeve sun protective cover-up. 

This toddler rashguard is made of Polyester and elastane and so it is breathable and stretchy. One of our favorite rash vests for kids!

Other 2 piece rash guards for girls you may like:

Alooka Little Girl rash guard mermaid pattern

Holiebee 2 piece rash guard and swim shorts for girls

Simple joy one piece rash guard swimsuit for girls

As mentioned above, Simple Joy rash guards for kids come in several shapes inlcuding a one piece swimsuit for girls with long sleeves.

Theis model has a pull up zipper closure on the back, it is stretchy and offers UPF50+ sun protection.

This can be a lovely solution to protect the lower part of the back especially, which tends to stay more exposed than the others when building sandcastles!

Find price and specs here

 Other one piece rash guard swimsuit for girls you may like:

Uideazone zone swimsuit with sun protection for girls age 1Y to 6Y

Rufflebutts one-piece swimsuit and rash guard for girls from newborn up

Rufflebutt rash guard set – pull on top: great rash guard for toddler girls

Rufflebutt rash guards are lovely and effective girly rashguards that are perfect for children who love pretty gear and parents who don’t want to compromise on sun protection. Find price and specs here.

This rash guard comes as a set of two pieces, long sleeve top and swimming bottom, you can choose many different colors and it has all you look for in a goof sun vest for kids: UV50 protection, comfortable material on the skin, quick drying.

The top comes in several styles (long sleeve / short sleeve) and the swimming suit park has a design that gives good coverage and protects delicate skin in areas where sunscreen tends to wash away.

Made in the USA, these rash sets are available for babies and toddlers 3 to 36 months.

The rashguard top is made of 80% nylon and 20% spandex and has a sun protection rating of UPF 50+ and also comes as a short sleeve rash vest if you prefer.

If you prefer a zipper at the front, you can also choose from several models: see them here.

The design with a front zipper that makes it easy to put on and off (as easy as it gets with a wriggly, potentially wet toddler!) however, be careful if you are buying for children with long hair as the zipper may catch them.

This rash guard comes with several patterns and colors that will please children with different styles and all have a pretty ruffled bottom for a cute look.

Dive & Sail kids rash guard: full-body rash guard for active kids

If you are looking for full-body sun protection for watersport, then you may want to look at this full-length rash guard for kids by Dive & Sail that protects torso, legs and arms.

The rash guard comes in several sizes (look at their size chart here), it comes in 3 different colors that will appeal to younger kids especially and closes with a front zipper.

Made of  polyamide and elastane, it is soft to the touch, it has a UV50 sun protection filter and it is fast drying which is comfortable for them while wearing and great for storing at the end of the day.

This is a good pick for active kids you want to protect from the sun and sand during watersports especially.

Other one piece rash guards you may like:

Karrack Girls and Boy One Piece Rash Guard Swimsuit Kid Water Sport Short Swimsuit

I hope you enjoyed hits quick overview of our favorite rash guards for kids and it helped you find a good rash vest for your toddler or older kid for your best family vacation!

Other beach essentials you may like:

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Toddler wearing striped rash guard walking towards the beach and overlay text: our favorite rash guards and sun vests for kids. Rash guards for babies, toddlers and older kids we love

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