Where to Start: Baby Swimwear Essentials

There are lots of options available for baby swimwear, so it can be hard to know which outfit is best for your child. This guide goes back to basics, so you can decide what swimwear option is best for your baby, toddler, or older child.

It covers:

What age can I take my baby swimming?

The advice used to be that you should take a baby swimming for the first time only after they have had their 6 week immunisations. The NHS now states that babies of any age can go swimming so you don’t have to wait until the 6 week mark if you’d like to take your newborn swimming sooner.

Age-by-age guide to baby swimwear


Swimwear type

Swim nappy

Buoyancy aid

0 – 3 months

Fleece-lined swimwear which covers arms and legs

Disposable or reusable* swim nappy

Armbands or float seat

3 – 6 months

Front fastening thermal swimming costume

Disposable or reusable swim nappy

Armbands or float seat

6 – 12 months

Swimwear with integrated swim nappy

Disposable or reusable swim nappy

Armbands or float seat

1 – 3 years

Float suits

Float vest/jacket over classic or all-in-one swimming costumes

Disposable or reusable swim nappy

Float suits, float jackets or float vests

3 years and over

Classic or all-in-one swimming costumes

Swim shorts with integrated nappy specially designed for older children

Reusable swim nappy integrated into specially designed swim shorts for older children

Float suits, float jackets or float vests

*The Splash About Happy Nappy is a reusable swim nappy that can be worn with any swimwear or by itself and is suitable for newborns up to children aged 3 years.

0 – 3 months

Most important factors to consider:

  • Temperature in the pool
  • Sensitive skin

Best product:

Splash About Warm in One

From £21.99 - £24.99

At this age, babies tire very quickly so it’s unlikely you will be spending more than 10 – 15 minutes in the pool. Tiny babies feel the cold easily so you want to prioritise swimwear that helps keep them warm. Thermal swimwear like Splash About’s Warm In One range are swim suits with long sleeves and legs that are fleece-lined to provide little ones with extra warmth so they can enjoy swimming for longer periods in cooler pools.

Babies at this age may also have more sensitive skin. Warm In Ones can help protect extra sensitive skin from harsh pool chemicals. Simply apply your baby’s usual barrier cream to their skin and pop on the Warm In One which will ensure the cream doesn’t wash off in the pool.

Top tip: check the temperature of your local pool before you go. For a baby of 0-3 months, the pool should be heated to above 30°C.

3 – 6 months

Most important factor to consider:

  • Freedom of movement

Best products:

Splash About BabyWrap

From 18.00 - £21.00

Babies will be able to spend a little more time in the pool at this age, so expect swimming sessions to last around 20 – 40 minutes.

Basic swimming costumes are fine to wear, however, if your child tends to feels the cold then stick with a fleece-lined swimsuit such as the Warm In One range.

To get your little one used to having their arms and legs free in the water, try a Splash About BabyWrap. This wraparound swim suit is similar in style to a classic swimming costume but has the added benefit of being made from neoprene, a fabric similar to wetsuit material which helps keep babies’ core body temperature warm. It can be teamed up with a Happy Nappy for a stylish, secure swim.

Top tip: The BabyWrap is particularly useful for getting wriggly babies dressed and undressed quickly thanks to the front Velcro fastening.

6 – 12 months

Most important factors to consider:

  • Swimwear with integrated nappies with leak protection

Best products:

Splash About Happy Nappy

From £9.99 - £10.99

Splash About Happy Nappy Wetsuit

From £22.00 - £25.99

Splash About Happy Nappy Costume

From £16.00 - £18.00

At this age, you may want to start swimming lessons or classes with your baby or go to the pool more regularly now your baby is a little older and able to stay in the water for longer. Again, basic swimming costumes are fine, but bear in mind, standard swimming costumes must be worn with a swim nappy to avoid accidents in the pool.

For peace of mind, choose baby swimwear with an integrated swim nappy which is designed to prevent faeces from leaking into the pool. Alternatively, go for a reusable Happy Nappy swim nappy with your child’s usual swimming costume.

The Happy Nappy Wetsuit from Splash About features a built in swim nappy with snug comfortable leg cuffs that prevent any leakages. The Happy Nappy Wetsuit is approved by swim schools across the world. These swim suits are made from neoprene so will keep babies warm for the duration of their swimming lessons.

Top tip: Team up the Happy Nappy or Happy Nappy Wetsuit with Splash About Nappy Wrap and liners for a fuss-free, leak-free swim.

1 – 3 years

Most important factor to consider:

  • Integrated floats to aid buoyancy

Best product:

Splash About Float Suit

From £23.99 - £26.99

Splash About Jammers

From £15.00 - £18.00

From one year’s old, babies can start to wear float suits, jackets or vests in the pool. Although arm bands are the first choice for many parents, swimwear with built-in buoyancy aids can help to improve confidence in the pool and encourage children to maintain the optimum position for swimming.

Float suits with UV fabric that cover arms and legs are particularly useful for outdoor pools and swimming at the beach. The Splash About UV Float Suit in Turtle Mania design is the ideal option for keeping children covered from the sun, supported in the water and looking stylish.  

Many children are still potty training when they are 3, so teaming up a float suit with swimwear designed to prevent faecal leaks will give you and your child peace of mind. Splash About Child Jammers are a stylish and practical choice – they are also the most reliable leak protection swim short in the world.

Top tip: You can read a detailed guide to swim vests and jackets here and float suits here.

3 years and over

Most important factor to consider:

  • Variety of swimwear styles
  • Continued leak protection

Best products:

Splash About Swimming Costumes

From £7.99 - £14.99

Splash About Jammers

From £14.99 - £16.99

As your child’s swimming ability improves, you may feel confident enough for them to try swimwear without integrated floats or neoprene fabric. Options include classic swimming costume styles or all-in-one UPF swimsuits, which cover arms and legs for extra sun protection.

For older children who are not yet potty trained or who are required to use swim nappies for swimming lessons, try the Splash About Jammers range for ultra-reliable leak protection.

Top tip: Jammers are available in sizes to fit children up to 9 years old so are ideal if your child is affected by faecal incontinence.

Swim nappies: How the right swimwear can prevent faeces in pools

Many parents are rightly worried about their children having an accident with a leaky nappy at the swimming pool. Choosing the right swim nappy can help prevent this.

The best way to avoid any leakages is to use a disposable swim nappy or reusable swim nappy liner with a snug fitting reusable swim nappy on top.

The Happy Nappy from Splash About is a ‘top layer’ nappy with thick but soft cuffs that create a seal around your little one’s thighs and tummy to prevent any faeces from escaping. The unique design features a gusset to allow for a full range of movement, without the risk of leaks.

The Happy Nappy can be worn by itself or teamed up with a BabyWrap, or float vest or jacket for children over one year old. A range of designs are available for boys and girls, or unisex styles such as the cute Green Gecko design.

The Happy Nappy technology is also integrated into a range of swimwear, including:

Happy Nappy Costumes

Happy Nappy Board Shorts

Jammers for older children

If you’d like to find out more, read our complete guide to swim nappies here.

Swimwear essentials for swimming outdoors

Being properly prepared for a beach holiday can guarantee your children have a fantastic time while staying safe in the sun and water. Below is a guide to the essentials they will need for safe fun in the sun:

  • UV swimwear

Choose swimwear made from UPF fabric to protect your children’s delicate skin from the sun. Splash About’s UV all-in-one collection features UPF 50+ sun protection. For sun protection with the added benefit of integrated floats, choose our UV floatsuits.

  • Wetsuits for cooler water

Toddlers and older children can enjoy splashing about in cooler water for longer by wearing a wetsuit. Made from neoprene, wetsuits provide sun protection and added warmth for children while they explore the beach.

  • Rash tops for extra sun protection

These UPF tops provide extra protection from the sun for children’s shoulders, arms and torsos. Rash tops are suitable for babies 6 months and over and can be worn with a Happy Nappy or board shorts or over any other type of swimwear.

To find out more about the benefits of float suits, read our guide here.

Our Complete Guide to Float Vests and Jackets provides further information on these handy buoyancy aids.

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