Sun Protection Clothing for Kids 2024

Ultraviolet Protection Factor (or UPF for short) is protection against both UVA and UVB rays. We LOVE UPF clothing because it means I don’t have to deal with messy sunscreen (as much). I try to look for cooling or moisture wicking tops so we can use them for active things like hiking and biking.

I also only get the rash guard/sun shirt style swim suits for my girls, so much easier to keep them protected playing in the sprinkler, pool, or at the beach.

Note: Rash guards or swim shirts should NOT be used for active play or activities out of the water because they are not moisture wicking and could cause overheating. And some UPF shirts should not be used in pools or salt-water because the chlorine or salt can damage them. Make sure to read labels and check the purpose of the item.

We have compiled some of our favorite UPF products to help keep you and your family protected this summer! Worried your kiddo might get too warm wearing long sleeves? Light colored, loose fitting, breathable clothing can actually help keep you cooler than no sleeves. Still warm? Toss your UPF shirt in the washer and run for a “rinse and spin” cycle, the damp shirt will feel cool next to the body!

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What Is the Difference Between UPF and SPF

Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is the standard that measures the effectiveness of sunscreen against UVB rays only. Higher SPF generally means you can be in the sun longer before getting burned, but that sometimes gives a false sense of security. Learn more on the EWG website and find safe sunscreens for your family.

Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) is similar to SPF, but it measures the effectiveness of a fabric against both UVA and UVB rays.

UPF and SPF numbers are not exactly equal. A UPF of 30 means the fabric will let 1/30th of UVA/UVB rays through- blocking roughly 96.6% of all UV rays continuously. A SPF of 30 (when applied properly, which most people don’t) means that you can be in the sun 30 times longer before burning than if you were wearing none.

SPF and UPF info graphic

The Skin Cancer Foundation tells us this:

The SPF number tells you how long the sun’s UV radiation would take to redden your skin when using the product exactly as directed versus the amount of time without any sunscreen. So ideally, with SPF 30 it would take you 30 times longer to burn than if you weren’t wearing sunscreen.

An SPF 30 allows about 3 percent of UVB rays to hit your skin. An SPF of 50 allows about 2 percent of those rays through. That may seem like a small difference until you realize that the SPF 30 is allowing 50 percent more UV radiation onto your skin.

https://www.skincancer.org/blog/ask-the-expert-does-a-high-spf-protect-my-skin-better/

UVA and UVB Rays

UVA or Ultraviolet A rays causes skin damage that leads to skin again, wrinkling, and tanning. Some UVA rays can also cause sunburn.

UVB or Ultraviolet B rays are the key culprit of sunburn and are a key contributor to causing skin cancer.

Having a product that protects against both is key to keeping your skin healthy.

Why UPF Clothing?

Better Than Sunscreen

Wearing UPF clothing is way better than sunscreen. Its not messy. It never wears off or washes out. Protection is immediate. If you are wearing the garment, you are protected, simple as that.

Sunscreen must be applied 20-30 min before going outside and be reapplied every two hours, or sooner if you have been sweating, swimming, or toweling off.

UVA and UVB Protection

Unless you have a broad spectrum sunscreen, most sunscreens only protect against UVB rays, meaning your skin is still exposed to UVA rays.

100% Waterproof

UPF clothing can’t wash off when splashing in the pool and it can’t be wiped off when toweling dry. No sunscreen is actually waterproof, just water resistant and it must be reapplied after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.

UPF Ratings info graphic

Best UPF Clothing for Kids

UPF garments come in a wide variety of products now, from short sleeve tees, hoodies, arm sleeves, shorts, blankets and hats! The hard part is choosing which one to get. Hopefully this guide will help you decide. They are sorted alphabetically by brand.

Read below for sun protective clothing for toddlers, the best sun shirts for kids and sun protective accessories we recommend.

Favorite UPF Clothing Brands A-Z

Sun Shirts for Kids

Columbia Kids’ Fork Stream Hoodie

Moisture wicking fabric will help keep your little cool and dry on the trail. Hood and thumbholes offer extra proteciton.

  • UPF 50
  • Available in kids XXS-XL
  • Material: 100% recycled polyester
  • Features: hood and thumbholes

Coolibar Kid’s LumaLeo Long Sleeve

This Coolibar sun shirt is great for everyday wear. Some of their other products are a bit thicker, like swim shirts, and don’t breathe as well, but this one is designed leisure and everyday wear. Also available in a Hoodie style.

  • UPF 50+
  • Available in kids XS (4) to L (10-12)
  • Material: Cotton/Viscose blend from Bamboo/Elastane blend
  • Features: Thumbholes to keep the hands covered and flatlock seams

Hannah Anderson Active MadeForSun Hoodie

This super soft material feels great next to the skin. Material is moisture wicking. This hoodie as a little thicker fabric than the Patagonia, so it also works good as another light layer on cool evenings at camp. It also comes in a variety of colors!

  • UPF 35 (website states blocks 97% which is equivalent to UPF 35)
  • Available in sizes kids 2-12
  • Material: 88% recycled poly/12% spandex UV melange jersey
  • Features: Hood, thumbholes, kangaroo pocket.
A little girl in a pink helmet and pink shirt looks at a lake.

Patagonia Capilene Silkweight Hoodie

Patagonia’s Capliene Silkweight line is a super soft and dreamy fabric that comes in sizes and styles for the whole family! Hoodies, tees, and longsleeve shirts that all offer some UPF protection. Recently Patagonia removed all the UPF designations from their clothes and hang tags due to some inconsistent readings. At a minimum the shirts are a UPF of 15. Some of the adult shirts also have some odor busting technology. They are very lightweight too!

Available in Kids Hoodies, Long Sleeve T, and Swim Rash Guard. Available in baby/toddler Hoodies, Long Sleeve T, and Short Sleeve T.

  • UPF 17-45 UPF Depending on style (learn more here). All the Capilene Silkweight items for kids are UPF40+ on the website.
  • Available in baby/toddler 3-6M to 5T and kids XS-XXL
  • Material: 94% polyester (35% recycled)/6% spandex jersey
  • Features: Some hooded, very lightweight, super soft

Can also purchase at REI Co-op and Backcountry.com.

A Mom with her daughters poses for a photo in their Patagonia Capilene Cool Hoodies

Primary Stay Cool Pullover Hoodie – BUDGET PICK!

This light weight hoodie is a team favorite at a great price! They are a similar weight to the Patagonia hoodie, but are still soft and feature a stay-cool weave to help wick moisture and dry quickly. They run true to size and have a great hood and pocket. However, they do tend to stretch a bit when wet.

  • UPF 50+
  • Available in kids sizes 2-3 to 14
  • Material: 90% recycled polyester, 10% spandex
  • Features: Hood, thumbholes, kangaroo pocket, reflective detail on sleeve

Check out the rest of Primary’s UPF clothing here!

A young boy in a green hooded shirt stands in a lake.

REI Co-op Sahara Shade Hoodie

This lightweight and soft hoodie is similar to the favorite Patagonia hoody. The lightweight stretch knit wicks away moisture to keep you cool. The Sahara comes in sizes for the whole family!

Reima Luotaus Hoodie

Reima is a trusted brand for many of the TMM families and their sun protection gear is no exception. The quick dry, stretchy material will keep your little ones protected from the sun.

  • UPF 50+
  • Available in kids sizes 4T to 14 years
  • Material: 90% recycled polyester, 10% elastane
  • Features: Hood, kangaroo pocket

Stio Kids’ Hylas Hooded Pullover

A lightweight, stretchy fabric that is UPF 50+. A summer staple for TMM Team Member Mary’s kids. Also available in Men’s and Women’s sizes.

  • UPF 50+
  • Available in kids sizes 4-14
  • Material: 90% Nylon, 10% Spandex
  • Features: Hood, flatlock seams, bright colors.
Two boys sit on a rock near a river wearing a Stio Hylas sun hoodie.

The North Face Amphibious Long-Sleeve Sun Tee and Set

This set is a great pick if you want a shirt and shorts that match! The tops all feature TNF’s FlashDry technology to help keep your kids sweat free. We love that these come in lots of color options and are lightweight. The neck and long sleeves help provide adequate protection. Downside, the shorts tend to run a little big are have been falling off kids who typically wear the same size and they do snag easily.

  • UPF 40+
  • Available in a set for Toddler sizes 2T-7. Available in Girls and Boys sizes XS (6)-XXL (18-20).
  • Material: 90% recycled polyester, 10% elastane with FlashDry-XD™

Can also purchase at REI Co-op and Backcountry.com.

A young boy with a lizard hat and bug shirt and gray shorts walks on a path.

Sun Suits for Babies and Toddlers

Stonz Baby and Kid’s Sun Suit

Stonz full-length zip one-piece suit which is perfect for babies and toddlers to be in the sun safely. The two-way zipper makes diaper changes easy. Lightweight and quick drying it is good for sun play or water play.

  • UPF 50+
  • Available is baby and toddler sizes 0-6M to 3T
  • Material: 85% polyester 15% elastane
  • Features: Two way zipper

The North Face Baby Amphibious One-Piece

The super bright colors make sure your littlest is seen. Flash dry material makes it quick to dry and the button crotch helps simplify diaper changes.

  • UPF 40+
  • Available is baby and toddler sizes 0-3M to 18-24M
  • Material: 90% recycled polyester, 10% elastane with FlashDry
  • Features: Bright colors and crotch snap

Can also purchase at Backcountry.com.

UV Skinz Baby Hooded Everyday Romper

This full-length zip one-piece romper is great for everyday play. Buttery soft and a full length zipper make for quick changes. If you are looking for something to pull double duty, check out the UV Skinz Sun and Swim Suit instead.

  • UPF 50+
  • Available is baby and toddler sizes 3-6M to 3T
  • Material: Viscose made from Bamboo
  • Features: Full zipper, flatlock seams, front pockets for treasures

Sun Protective Accessories

Coolibar Baby Batibou Sun Blanket

This blanket was great when our littles were babies. We could cover their legs, drape over the stroller or even swaddle and know they were protected from UV rays. Now, we still use it in the stroller, or out on the boat. Put it in the washer for a rinse & spin before hand and it also works as a great cooling blanket. Soft and stretchy, this blanket has many uses! Perfect gift for new moms with babies!

  • UPF 50+
  • Blanket is 36″ x 40″
  • Material: Cotton/Viscose from Bamboo/Elastane blend
A baby with a pink hat and blanket sleeps on a boat seat.

Iksplor Adventure Blanket

Now you might be wondering why I have a merino wool blanket on this list, but this is a multipurpose blanket and merino’s tight weave helps the fabric protect you from UV rays. This is a super soft blanket that can be used all year round! Merino is great at temperature regulation and can also double as a towel in a pinch.

  • Iksplor does not have a rating, but most merino wool rates at UPF30+
  • Blanket is 48″ x 48″
  • Material: 100% Merino Wool

Sunday Afternoons Play Hat

Hands down… this is our favorite sun hat for the girls. For the most part, they know that they aren’t playing outside without it on their noggin. Lightweight, easy care, and tons of fun prints. Grab yours today and get them started wearing it young!

  • UPF 50+
  • Available baby/kids S (6-24M), M (2-5 years), L (5-12 years). (Adult styles also available!)
  • Material: Solids: 100% Nylon / Prints: 100% Polyester

Check out all our recommended sun hats for kids here!

Kids play on a playground wearing sun hats and sun shirts.
Hannah Anderson sun shirts, TNF sun shirts, and Sunday Afternoons sun hats keep our kids protected!

Swimsuits with UPF

There are a lot of choices out there for UPF blocking swimwear. Since its hard to narrow to a single item we are going to give your our favorite brands for UPF swimwear!

  • Carters: Baby, toddler, and kid UPF 50+ swimwear
  • Coolibar: Baby through adult UPF 50+ swimwear and accessories
  • Hannah Anderson: baby, toddler, and kid UPF 35 swimwear
  • Reima: Baby, toddler, and kid UPF 50+ swimwear and accessories.
  • Target Cat & Jack or Art Class: Baby, toddler, and kid UPF 50+ swimwear
  • UV Skinz: Baby through adult UPF 50+ swimwear and accessories
Four kids sit on a bench eating ice cream with sun hats, swimsuits, and towels.

Some Final Thoughts on UPF Garment Care

UPF garments are not invincible and over time can lose their effectiveness as they wear out. Treat them with care by following the instructions on the care label for laundering and replace when they are worn or tattered.

Keeping your body protected from harmful rays requires a multi-level approach. One product can’t possibly protect all of you, so you will need a few different things like… a hat for you head, sun shirt for your body, sunscreen for exposed skin, and sunglasses for your eyes.

Remember to seek shady areas when possible and limit your UV exposure during peak hours, roughly 10a-4p, but if you still want to go have fun in the sun, just check the tips above before you head out.

Related Articles:

Best UPF Clothing for the Whole Family

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Author

  • Jami and her husband Greg were born and raised in Michigan, but now call Appleton, WI home. They have two little girls, Kylie and Nora, and two Springer pups, Reece and Lucie. They love getting out as a family camping, hiking, hunting, running, biking, and just playing outside. Jami and her family love spending free time in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula looking for adventure. Jami mostly stays home with her girls but also works part-time as an Athletic Trainer and a Personal Trainer. She also enjoys helping other families get outside as much as possible.

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