Do Babies Need Wetsuits? Understanding the Main Benefits of Baby Wetsuits

Baby wearing a Warm in One wet suit and a swim hat with their carer in the swimming pool.

Here at Water Babies, we understand the importance (and joys) of introducing little ones to the wonders of water as early as possible. In our quest to make baby swimming a fun, comfortable and safe experience, we provide a range of products to support you in your baby swimming journey from birth, this includes a must-have accessory - baby wetsuits.

In this blog post, we'll answer some of the most frequently asked questions about baby wetsuits and exploring their main benefits, so you can make an informed decision when deciding if your little one needs one. Let's dive in!

1. Why Are Baby Wetsuits Important?

Babies have a natural affinity for water, and introducing them to the pool from birth can do wonders for their growth, including a very long list of physical, cognitive and emotional benefits. Baby wetsuits help keep babies and toddlers warm in the water for longer, playing a pivotal role in ensuring a positive experience for both carers and their little water babies, which is key for them to want to get into the pool again, so they can keep building their water confidence.

Underwater photo of toddler wearing a Happy Nappy wet suit.

2. But... How Do Baby Wetsuits Work? 

When wearing a wetsuit, there's a layer of water which stays between your little one's body and the material of the wetsuit. This trapped water allows your child's body temperature to warm it, keeping them comfortably snug during their time in the water. Small air cells in the neoprene provide insulation, trapping heat in and keeping cold out. Baby wetsuits also help preventing rapid heat loss after leaving the water. 

Keeping your little one warm and comfy in the water will help you both to make the most out of your swimming session. We always make sure our pools are kept at the right temperature for your little one to stay warm and comfy throughout their Water Babies lesson (at least 32° for newborns and 30° for older babies); but every little one is different and might experience temperature changes in a slightly different way. Plus, for the majority of public pools and leisure centres, or when swimming in the sea during the summer holidays, the water will be far cooler!

Depending on the temperature of the pool you're swimming in and on your little one's complexion, you'll be able to evaluate what type of wetsuit works best for them. And if you have any doubts, don't hesitate to reach out to your Water Babies teacher, who will be able to provide you with all the help you might need when choosing the right wetsuit for your baby or toddler.

Image of baby wearing a Warm in One wetsuit, with their carer during a Water Babies lesson.

3. What Are Baby Wetsuits Made From?

Most wetsuits, including baby and toddlers wetsuits, are made from neoprene, a quick-drying, insulating fabric available in different thicknesses. Generally speaking, the thicker the neoprene is, the warmer it makes the wetsuit. Normally, it also means they are less flexible, which might reduce your little one's mobility in the water.

However, the quality of neoprene plays a major role as higher-quality materials have better elasticity, durability, and enhanced ability to retain heat, contributing to improved overall warmth and comfort in varying water conditions. Cheap wetsuits are often manufactured using lower-cost neoprene, which won't keep your little one as warm or comfy in the water. That's why here at Water Babies we only use premium quality neoprene in all our neoprene wetsuits and Happy Nappy products, keeping our baby wetsuits between 1 and 2mm thick for maximum stretch and comfort while remaining warm in the water.👌

For colder pools, such as leisure centres, or if your baby is really sensitive to temperature changes, we also offer neoprene free baby wetsuits with a super soft and cosy fleece-lining for an extra layer of warmth. This is the case of the Warm in One, the warmest baby wetsuit in our range!

Little one wearing a Warm in One wetsuit in the swimming pool, holding a fish toy.

4. So... What Are the Main Benefits of Wearing a Baby Wetsuit?

Children's wetsuits offer multiple advantages depending on the water activity they're used for, but the most relevant "pros" for baby swimming wetsuits could be summarised in 3 categories:

  • Temperature regulation and comfort
  • Hygiene and safety
  • UV protection

4.1 Temperature Regulation and Comfort

Until the age of 2, children struggle to regulate their temperature, making it easy for them to get cold in the water. Babies are more susceptible to temperature changes, so baby wetsuits can play a vital role in their temperature regulation, helping keep babies and toddlers warm in the water for longer. As they grow older, a wetsuit will keep offering extra insulation, enabling your older children to extend their time in the water to explore water sports and other water activities.

Baby wetsuits also enhance your little one's water experience by providing some extra buoyancy. The soft and stretchable neoprene and other similar materials ensures a snug fit without restricting your baby's movements. This buoyancy not only makes your little one feel more secure, but also encourages a natural and comfortable floating position in the water.

Baby Wetsuit Tip: Always put the wetsuit on before your little one gets cold. After the swim, promptly remove the wetsuit and dry your baby thoroughly. Pay attention to the folds and creases where water might be trapped. Keeping your baby dry after their swimming lesson is as important for their comfort as keeping them warm in the water. 

Water Babies teacher holding a little one at poolside. The little one is wearing a hooded baby towel.

4.2 Hygiene and Safety

Baby wetsuits offer more than just comfort; they contribute to hygiene and safety in the pool. The baby wetsuit's material acts as a barrier, protecting their sensitive young skin. Additionally, kids wetsuits also help to keep eczema lotions and other barrier creams in place, which makes them ideal for children with skin conditions, while offering a better grip to carers when holding their little ones in the water.

Let's talk about potty protection too. Most baby wetsuits require little ones to wear a double layer nappy system during their Water Babies lesson, but Splash About has designed an innovative baby wetsuit which includes a built-in reusable swim nappy, the Happy Nappy, saving you the hassle of needing multiple products (and also some money in the long run!). This is the case of the Happy Nappy Wetsuit. Thanks to the Happy Nappy Wetsuit, you'll only need a reusable nappy underneath, such as the Silver Lining Nappy Wrap, which not only makes it easier to clean, it also destroys harmful bacteria!

Little one swimming in a Happy Nappy wetsuit during a Water Babies lesson.

4.3 UV Protection

Protecting your baby's delicate skin from harmful UV rays is a top priority. Baby wetsuits act as a barrier against the sun, providing an extra layer of UV protection during outdoor water activities, like going to the beach, swimming in outdoor pools or playing in paddling pools. This ensures your little one enjoys the water safely, without the risk of sunburn.

For outdoor swimming adventures, we recommend our knee length Toddlers Wetsuit, the UV Sun & Sea Wetsuit and the Shorty Wetsuits, which includes 3/4 sleeves for extra coverage and UPF protection. ☀️

Toddler in the beach, wearing a toddlers wet suit and a legionnaire sun hat.

5. How to Care and Clean Baby Wetsuits

To ensure the longevity of your baby's wetsuit, never forget to rinse the wetsuit with fresh clean water after each use, to remove as much chlorinated or salt water as possible. Then allow it to air dry completely before storing, preferably avoiding direct sunlight. This simple maintenance routine will keep your children's wetsuits in excellent condition for numerous swimming adventures!

If your little one has had a 'code brown' inside your baby wetsuit, and they weren't wearing their double nappy system because it was outside of your Water Babies lesson, it can be hand washed using some mild detergent, avoiding any conditioner as it might affect its waterproof properties, and then air dry.

Water Babies teacher smiling, side by side with a carer and their toddler, who is wearing a toddlers wetsuit and pink goggles.

Baby wetsuits can be essential to ensure you and your little one have a safe, comfortable, and overall enjoyable experience in the water. Making sure your little one is always warm and happy in the pool, during and outside of swimming lessons, will help making them feel secured and strengthening positive associations which will build water confidence and encourage them to keep learning new swimming skills. 

We offer a wide range of designs for each type of baby wetsuit, which you'll find at the Water Babies online store. From cute patterns to vibrant colours, find a wetsuit to suit your little one's needs and personality!