We just got back from our California vacation, and while I was prepping for our trip I realized I needed some baby swim items. I thought I would be more well versed in baby swim gear (considering I grew up in California and was former swim team member, and my mom still swims as her daily form of exercise), but it turns out I was a bit out of touch. I assumed I would need to just grab disposable swim diapers and a baby swimsuit, but after asking the experts (AKA other mom friends and Amazon reviews) I quickly realized there's much more to know for the best experience with a baby in the water.

Swimwear. There are cute suit options all over, but for babies I like the idea of long sleeve rashguards, covering as much skin as possible for the best form of sun protection. These cute striped ones are by SwimZip and we're big fans.

Hat. Something with a wide brim, with back of the neck coverage and an under the neck closure is ideal. This one has a self-clasp which I think stays on better than the self-tie ones.

Swim Diapers. A common misconception here is that swim diapers work just like typical diapers, but I learned that swim diapers are designed to only hold in solids, not liquid (otherwise they'd be absorbing all that pool water also and defeating their purpose). There are two kinds, disposables and reusables, and I'm going with reusables, for what I've read in terms of effectiveness and saving money over the long haul. There's tons of brands and styles, I'm choosing snaps instead of velcro closures so that it doesn't snag on my own swimsuit, and a grow-with-you design for the most bang for my buck. You want them TIGHT for them to work. You also want at least two, so that if one gets messy you don't have to end your swim day. The two companies I found to be the highest rated are by Apple Cheeks and AMP Diapers (both are recommended in the Lucie's List review here), and both fit about 15-35 lbs and I loved them. Fast drying and easy to travel with (the AMP ones even come with that tiny travel bag pictured above), and they double as swim bottoms for babies as well.

Another cool swim company to recommend, Splash About, is based in the UK and carries a new kind of swim diaper, the Happy Nappy. These are made of neoprene material (the same as a wetsuit) and look more like spandex shorts than a diaper, and are cute enough to be worn as-is. I love companies that work to make life and play accessible for everyone, and Splash About also makes swim options that work for bigger children, including adults with disabilities. Beyond swim diapers they make a variety of swim products including the Floatie Swimsuit pictured above. Love that concept of removable floats.

Sunscreen. Of course, right? But strangely not the easiest decision since the chemical content is a little controversial, but after 6 months it's generally advised to use if you're going to be in the sun with your baby for more than a few minutes with exposed skin. Apparently "sunblock" is technically a better term to look for than "sunscreen," since the ingredients used are physical blockers (ie zinc) as opposed to chemical "screens" but in retail the names seem to be used interchangeably and thus the confusion. I've heard the best formulas available right now are by ThinkBaby and ThinkSport (same company and formulas, easily blendable and no weird chemicals) and also I have some friends who love Babyganics.

Life vests. This is more for boating than pool use, but I've heard good things about this classic style one. For pool and learning to swim age I've heard this is the best for arm movement.

Sunglasses. We have these. Not really a necessity but cute (if your baby will keep them on!).

If you're into matching your mini (like me) Raising Wild makes these. The mama suits are functional and fashionable (hello, triangle cut out and high waist), a big win for one pieces.

Wishing you and your bab(ies) lots of fun and safe play in the sun!

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