Best Kids Wetsuits On The Market

silver medal
Best Toddler Wetsuit

O Neill Toddler Reactor

With its high-quality materials, it offers U.P.F. 50+ Ultraviolet Protection with cleanly designed graphics and minimal seam placement for rash prevention.
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gold medal
★ Best Youth Wetsuit

O Neill Youth Reactor 2

This wetsuit comes with flatlock seams, high stretch neoprene, solid knee padding, and back zip for easy on and off.
Buy this wetsuit
bronze medal
Best Protection

O Neill Toddler Reactor 2MM

The smart mix of neoprene with the rest of the high-quality materials are cleverly layered so that your child gets high performance and freedom of movement but is also protected from the elements.
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A list of the 5 best kids wetsuits to protect your child when in water.

Buying your child solid kids wetsuits goes a long way not only in ensuring their safety and taking the inevitable precaution when surfing, swimming, or paddle boarding but also for your child feeling comfortable and truly loving and appreciating any water sport.

The wetsuits for kids are especially important because adults can withstand lower temperatures as their body is more resistant. Still, children need the wetsuit’s warmth and insulation that keep the body temperature levels at an optimal range, no matter the water or the weather.

Kids wetsuits nowadays can be found in multiple models and styles as well as thicknesses both for girls and boys, so you have the freedom to choose the right one for the expected water conditions.

Other interesting articles:

Why are wetsuits for kids needed, anyway?

To understand why your child and everyone who surfs or paddles or does any other water sport needs a wetsuit, I will take you back to read why and how wetsuits were invented.

If you went and read that article, you will have a much better understanding as to how wetsuits, including kids wetsuits, work. To summarize, for the sake of being practical and in case you haven’t had the chance to read the article I linked, here is an overview of how wetsuits work.

You see, when it comes to water and staying at a comfortable range of temperature, insulation is everything!

So, when we think of the second law of thermodynamics, it tells us that heat flows from warmer objects to colder ones and not vice versa. For instance, when the air temperature outside is 10°C, and your body is at 36°C, your body’s heat will travel towards to colder air, which will result in you feeling cold rapidly.

The same rule applies when you are in cold water.

Now, back to insulation and how it can save your child from freezing and catching a cold. Namely, insulation is trapping warm air between layers of materials. We do this when we put a few layers of clothing on us, or we do it with neoprene – a popular material used for wetsuits.

Kids-Wetsuits-Surfing
Kids wetsuits can protect them from the wild weather and water conditions

Neoprene, what?

Neoprene is a must-have in a wetsuit today. Without digging too deep into the chemistry of it, you should know that neoprene in kids wetsuits is a carbon-based organic chemical-filled nitrogen gas bubbles inside. It is made of repeating building blocks called monomers, which trap heat more efficiently than any other material, even rubbers.

What to look for when buying kids wetsuits?

Apart from the model and sizing that you pick, look for these layers most typically found in a wetsuit:

  • A layer of nylon or other soft fabric will stop the neoprene from rubbing and chafing onto your body. It would be even better if you get your child a separate rash west that will provide some extra insulation and keep the neoprene away for a more comfortable feeling.
  • A thin layer of a heat-reflecting material such as titanium, copper, silver, magnesium, or aluminum. These will bring back the heat as it leaves the body towards the colder water.
  • A thick layer of neoprene contains bubbles of nitrogen which trap warm air and prevent it from leaving into the water. As I said before, this is one of the essential segments of a wetsuit.
  • A durable outer finishing that repels water and is abrasion-resistant.
Kids-Wetsuits-Girl
Not everyone prefers a full wetsuit, some like to use the top only

How do Kids Wetsuits work?

First off, it traps the body’s warmth and does not allow it to leave so easily through the neoprene and the heat-reflecting materials. The thickness of the wetsuits will determine whether that kids wetsuits can protect your child from cold waters. So the thicker the suit is, the colder the water can be.

For more on the warmth and temperature of wetsuits, check out this wetsuit temperature guide.

The second benefit of a child wetsuit is the buoyancy it adds in the water. There are air bubbles built in that keep you warm but also keep you afloat on the surface easily, which helps in the protection and safety of your child when in water.

Lastly, kids wetsuits will give your child higher hydrodynamics due to its S.C.S. or Super Composite Skin coating. This coating is added to repel water from the surface of the suit allowing your child to be lighter and faster in the water.

Kids-Wetsuits-Posing
Also convenient is that the kids wetsuits will protect your child from a sunburn

Sizing and Putting Kids Wetsuits on

In order to teach your child how to correctly put their wetsuit on, you should also inform yourself on the matter. By learning how to put kids wetsuits on, they will be able to preserve it for a longer time because plenty of damage can be done to a wetsuit by not putting it on properly.

However, getting the sizing right also plays a vital role in putting the wetsuit on as it should be. So, before moving onto the list with the 5 best kids wetsuits, let’s briefly talk about sizing and wearing a wetsuit.

The two most important references in the sizing of a child wetsuit are the height and the weight of the child.

Then you have the chest dimensions, which also need to be fitted correctly so that the wetsuit doesn’t press your child or fits loosely too much. If you get the chest size wrong, your child might have a tough time getting into the wetsuit, or it could feel significantly constricting in the arms, which will not be ideal for paddling or any other activity in the water.

One of the two scenarios are possible when you don’t get your kids wetsuits sizing right:

  1. If you get a poorly-fitted wetsuit and it is too small, your child will find your movement restricted, and they will not be as comfortable as they should be. In this case, your child won’t be able to wear anything below the wetsuit, and here you can see why I recommend wearing undergarments (read my article “What to Wear Under a Wetsuit “), then a suit too small will start rubbing against the skin and chafing. Plus, when putting on a wetsuit that’s too tight, a lot of stress is placed on the internal seams causing them to leak and break down faster and thin out the neoprene.
  2. On the other hand, if your kid’s wetsuit is too big, then it will be easy for them when putting it on, but the whole water leakage system won’t work correctly. Instead of letting a little bit of water inside and not flushing it out in order to warm them up, it will continuously be flushing out the warm water and letting new cold water in. That would be as if your child isn’t wearing any suit at all.

Note that a wetsuit loosens after a few times of wearing it, so keep that in mind when buying wetsuits for kids so that you don’t buy one that is too loose.

Kids Wetsuits: The 5 Best Wetsuits for Kids

O-Neill-Youth-Reactor

O’Neill Youth Reactor 2

When looking for a kids wetsuit with O’Neill Youth Reactor 2, look no further. They already lead the market with their wetsuits of all kinds, but the Youth Reactor 2 now comes updated and is one of the best-selling kids wetsuits.

This wetsuit comes with flatlock seams, high stretch neoprene, solid knee padding, and back zip for easy on and off. Also of note are the “seamless paddle zones,” which allow for the maximum mobility while swimming and paddling.

However, I have done further research and listed all its benefits below so that you can have a quick overview of why the O’Neill Youth Reactor 2 is one of the top 5 choices when it comes to kids wetsuits.

With that, let’s run a quick overview of what this suit offers.

O’Neill Youth Reactor 2 PROS:

  • Flexible neoprene
  • Flatlock seams for comfort and insulation
  • Quality knee padding
  • Seamless paddle zones

O’Neill Youth Reactor 2 CONS:

  • Not so budget-friendly

As a part of its latest update, the Reactor 2 now comes with new colors and fresh models. However, it’s not only the exterior that they recently upgraded. Namely, the Reactor 2 now comes with the pairing of Ultraflex Neoprene, Fluidfoam, and a double seal neck, which is adjustable to create an even better fit and feel when wearing this kids wetsuit.

It is available in 3/2mm thickness and a shortly 2/2mm. With full and spring suit models, the O’Neill Youth Reactor 2 is an excellent option for beginner’s level surfing, diving, paddle sports, and other aquatic activities.

S. Zhou, a verified customer, says:

“I bought this for my 11-year-old niece who dives with me. She is a size ten kid with a normal build, and the size ten is what I ordered. It fit her great. The arm and leg lengths were right on, and the only initial complaint was that the neck was a little snug.

After 3 hours in the pool and four dives in the ocean, she had zero problems and never mentioned the neck snugness. I probably just did the zipper flap too tight the first time and made sure not to do that during our dives in the ocean. She really likes this wet suit!”

O-Neill-Toddler-Reactor-2

O’Neill Toddler Reactor-2 Spring Wetsuit

This 2mm back-zip short sleeve kids wetsuit is another solid one by O’Neill you can count on.

Namely, a spring suit always guarantees more flexibility and freedom of movement. With its high-quality materials, it offers U.P.F. 50+ Ultraviolet Protection with cleanly designed graphics and minimal seam placement for rash prevention.

I personally think this child wetsuit is fantastic for a one-day trip to the beach or a lake where the child would be in constant activity in the water and out in the open because of the Ultraviolet Protection and the neoprene that keeps your child safe from harmful sun rays.

With that, let’s run a quick overview of what this suit offers.

O’Neill Toddler Reactor 2 PROS:

  • The back-zip system provides easy entry and exit with a water-resistant closure
  • The Ultra-stretch neoprene is an incredibly soft premium material and provides a superior feel, flexibility, and unparalleled comfort
  • Made with flat-lock-stitched seams which are very durable and allow your child to enjoy playing in the water
  • Wetsuit comes in various vibrant color options
  • 50+ u.p.f. Maximum protection
  • Strategic seam placement
  • Rash protection
  • Slim fit
  • Reduces fatigue from sun exposure
  • 6oz polyester/spandex
  • Over-lock stitched for a super-strong seam

O’Neill Toddler Reactor 2 CONS:

  • It is a short-sleeve spring wetsuit that has to be worn only in warm weather

K.A.E., a verified customer, says:

“Followed the size chart that I found online, and the size 2 fit my 3-year-old daughter perfectly (38 inches, 30lbs)… it’s tight enough around the legs and arms to keep her warm, with just a little room in the crotch to grow.

She’s a slim little one and has been hovering between 27-30lbs for about a year, so I’m not too worried about her growing out of this too quickly. If your little one, however, is her size but gaining weight at a faster pace, you might want to go up to a size 3. Just be careful not to size up too much. …a loose wetsuit won’t keep you warm :)”

Last updated on 03/12/2020 01:05
O-Neill-Toddler-Reactor

O’Neill Toddler Reactor 2mm

This back-zip shorty kids wetsuit is another model in the O’Neill toddler section for in-between seasons. The smart mix of neoprene with the rest of the high-quality materials are cleverly layered so that your child gets high performance and freedom of movement but is also protected from the elements.

With that, let’s run a quick overview of what this suit offers.

O’Neill Toddler Reactor 2mm PROS:

  • High protection from the elements with the smart mix of neoprene and other materials
  • Special cold-water protection
  • U.V. protection
  • The back-zip system provides easy entry and exit with a water-resistant closure
  • Made with flat-lock-stitched seams which are very durable and allow your child to enjoy playing in the water
  • Slim fit
  • Reduces fatigue from sun exposure
  • 30% FluidFlex
  • 70% Fluid Foam
  • Y.K.K. Back Zip System
  • Flatlock Stitching

O’Neill Toddler Reactor 2mm CONS:

  • May be limited to warm weather seasons only because of the short sleeves

Kunde, a verified customer, says:

“We ordered O’Neill and T.W.F. to choose from and opted for O’Neill for both children:

The material of the O’Neill is much softer and a little thicker.

The zipper on the O’Neill could be better protected at the top of the neck, but it is not a defect.

The O’Neill fits both children like a glove (boy 4 years old: pants size 104 extra slim, T-shirt size 104+, from the O’Neill fits size 2; girls, 2.5 years, pants size 92 normal width, T-shirt size 98+, O’Neill size 1). The T.W.F. (size 0 for 4-year-olds) is unfortunately too wide and too wide on the legs. Nevertheless: indeed good price-performance ratio for children who are a bit more proper.

On the subject of smell: yes, it is a wetsuit and not an organic tree bark suit. It smells like a newly bought T-shirt.”

Last updated on 03/12/2020 01:05
oneill-toddler-reactor-seaglass

O’Neill Toddler Reactor Seaglass 2mm

Another fantastic kids wetsuit by O’Neill offering U.V. sun protection and SPF properties for the utmost protection of your child from the elements. This back-zip shorty wetsuit in slate berry sea glass is made of neoprene layered with other comfortable and soothing materials that offer anti-allergenic and anti-chaffing propertiesfor the most comfortable feeling when your child is wearing this suit.

With that, let’s run a quick overview of what this suit offers.

O’Neill Toddler Reactor PROS:

  • U.V. protection and SPF properties
  • Strategic seam placement
  • Rash protection
  • Slim fit
  • Reduces fatigue from sun exposure
  • Over-lock stitched for a super-strong seam

O’Neill Toddler Reactor CONS:

  • Limited model colors
  • Limited wearing throughout the year due to the short-sleeve design

Sonja M., a verified customer, says:

“The suit is perfect for my four-year-old daughter. We had ordered several, all cut too far, except this one. Class!!! She now goes into the cool water and stays in it with lots of fun. This is the highest-priced wetsuit, but also the best for us!! Thank you very much.”

Last updated on 03/12/2020 01:05
Billabong-Kids-Wetsuit

Billabong Junior Intruder 2mm Wetsuit

Moving away from the O’Neill kids wetsuits assortment, we have the Billabong Junior Intruder available in 2 different colors. This back-zip shorty wetsuit has an easy-stretch material that allows for the child wearing it to have complete freedom for movement, whether in the water or outside.

Furthermore, this Billabong Junior wetsuit is part of their Foil series made from the exclusive AX2 Airlite Neoprene for utmost protection and warmth in the water. It is designed with flatlock stitching and strategic seam positioning for maximum flexibility and comfort.

An additional feature is the back zip entry strategic seam placement for enhanced resiliency and comfort as well as low profile contour collar.

With that, let’s run a quick overview of what this suit offers.

Billabong Junior Intruder 2mm Wetsuit PROS:

  • Made with AX2 Airlite Superflex Neoprene and a combination of a super-soft foam core with a silky stretch
  • Jersey Flat-lock stitching
  • Strategic seam placement for maximum flexibility and comfort
  • Low-profile contour collar
  • Back-zip entry
  • Not expensive

Billabong Junior Intruder 2mm Wetsuit CONS:

  • Limited color model
  • Limited wearing throughout the year due to the short-sleeve design

Anne, a verified customer, says:

“I was surprised to get such a high-quality wetsuit at such a budget-friendly price. We are delighted with the thickness, and I must say this is the first wetsuit my son has tried and said he isn’t cold in water with. So the materials must be doing their job. I highly recommend it as the beginner’s child wetsuit.”

The Most-Commonly Asked Kids Wetsuits Questions

They say you are as good as your gear is for any sport out there, and from experience, I couldn’t agree more!

A wetsuit is one of the most invaluable pieces of gear when it comes to water sports; however, in order to make an informed choice and buy the right one for your child, getting to know what truly wetsuits are about and how they work is key.

This is why I have comprised a list of the most commonly asked questions here on the website or offline about wetsuits from people who wanted to buy one for themselves or their children.

1.      What are wetsuits made of, and how do they work?

As mentioned previously, wetsuits are tight-fitting, an insulating garment made most commonly of neoprene and other elastic materials for the most comfortable feeling and utmost protection from the water.

First invented little prior to the 1930s, you can read more about the history of the wetsuit here.

As for neoprene, this is a fairly new synthetic rubber material consisting of tiny nitrogen bubbles. When pieces of neoprene are stacked atop one another, as is the case with wetsuits, the layers of little bubbles create a strong insulating buffer between the body and the water.

You can read more about how wetsuits work here. But as an answer to your question in short, here’s what you need to know:

  • Neoprene isn’t a part of wetsuits to completely block out water but to simply enhance the proper water circulation system. Namely, wetsuits are made to trap a thin layer of water between the skin and the suit, which is then warmed by body heat. This small amount of warm water then stays with you keeping your body temperature comfortable and at a safe range throughout the entire time you are in the water.
Boys-wearing-wetsuit

2.      How do I take care of the wetsuit?

Wetsuit care is crucial in using your suit for a long time and getting the most out of it. Simply put, the better you look after it, the longer it will last you.

You can read the full article here on how to wash your wetsuit properly, but here is a quick rundown on the proper cleaning of your kids wetsuits:

  • Always rinse with fresh water after use
  • Hang to dry out of direct sunlight
  • Use a broad armed hanger to hang your suit; a narrow armed hanger will damage your wetsuit over time
  • If storing or transporting your wetsuit, roll it. Don’t fold it as folding will leave creases across the suit
  • Don’t dry in the tumble drier
wetsuits-drying

3.      When can my child start wearing a wetsuit?

There isn’t an age limit to wearing a wetsuit. Your child can start wearing one from the first day in the water, considering all the benefits that wetsuits have.

The only constraint might be the sizing since you have to find the right fit for your child.

There are even wetsuits for babies who can truly benefit from wearing one since they are particularly prone to getting cold in the water.

In addition to warmth, wetsuits also provide extra buoyancy, which can be especially beneficial for youngsters learning to swim.

wetsuit-beach-fog

4.      How can I get the sizing of kids wetsuits right?

The benefits of a good-quality and well-fitted wetsuit are numerous, which is why you truly need to take some time to look into the right fit for your kid.

Technically, although there are some general sizing rules and information out there, each manufacturer will have their own wetsuit size guidelines. This is why it is essential to consult the size chart of the brand you’re interested in before making a purchase.

Be sure to keep in mind that some wetsuits may run a bit large or small depending on the brand and that no two brands can have the same sizing, just like the size irregularities that are common between regular clothing companies.

If you are buying online, check to see if you can return the wetsuit if your child does not fit once you buy it. Or, optimally, you could go into a store and buy one that your child has tried on.

Luckily, the return of ill-fitting wetsuits is generally a hassle-free endeavor when dealing with trusted brands.

Funboard-Surfboard

5.      Why should my child wear a wetsuit at all?

That question pops up one too many times, even more often than I would like to hear simply because parents tend to think wetsuits or drysuits are for adults only.

However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Surely, if the water is very warm and the activity laid back, then your child may not always need a wetsuit. But if the water is colder or there are strong winds outside or strong U.V. rays, and your child is on board with you learning to paddle or to swim, then the added protection and buoyancy from the wetsuit will be a good thing.

With that said, let’s look at some of the basic benefits of wetsuits:

  • Wetsuits keep your child warm longer. No matter how warm the water may be, children always overstay in it (because it’s F.U.N., of course!) so they tend to get cold but won’t even feel it. This can be dangerous for their health, especially because kids are more prone to hypothermia. With a wetsuit on, your child is safe and comfortable for long sessions in the water.
  • Wetsuits help protect kids from the sun. When having fun under the sun, the last thing that comes into the children’s mind is sun protection. Applying is a hassle, which is when wetsuits come in handy. As you can see, most of the wetsuits (even in this list of 5 here) have U.V. protection, and they are the surest protection because SPF lotions wash off no matter how water-resistant they are. So, covering almost the entire body and repelling dangerous U.V. rays, a wetsuit provides comprehensive and efficient sun protection for kids spending time in the water.
  • Protection against sea animals. Wetsuits can effectively protect kids from stinging sea critters like jellyfish and other unassuming sea animals that are commonly found near coastlines.
  • Abrasion protection. Wetsuits can also help protect kids from abrasions that might happen in water. You see, with reefs, rocks, and even a sandy sea bottom, kids are the most vulnerable to the power of a wave or current, hence they are more likely to get a cut or an abrasion underwater when not wearing a wetsuit. So, covering most of their body with one can greatly help with staying safe.
wetsuit-shore-sunrise

6.      What should I consider when buying kids wetsuits?

Here a quick overview of the nuances of wetsuits to keep in mind when buying one. Here I will just mention the most important ones, but for more of these and for more in-depth information on each point, you can check this comprehensive wetsuit guide.

TYPES OF WETSUITS

When getting a wetsuit, you will notice that there are four main categories to choose from:

Full wetsuit: This is the complete, long-sleeve wetsuit covering the body, arms, and legs. Ideal in cold water but also fit for warmer temperatures. They have different thicknesses, so be sure to check that too. Depending on where your child will use it, they may not need such a thick suit that will limit their movement in the water. On the other hand, for cold waters, the thicker the wetsuit is, the better.

Shorty/Spring suit: These are the wetsuits that are cut above the knees and have short sleeves. Optimal for warmer temperatures and in-between seasons where body warmth is the most important issue. They are generally made of the same neoprene and the same elastic materials, so your children are getting the same benefits from wearing a wetsuit-like this.

Childrens-Wetsuits

Long John: This is not such a common wetsuit, although it may be a good option depending on your situation. Namely, the Long John wetsuits are sleeveless, but they extend entirely over the legs. They are used in warmer weather conditions when extra mobility is needed in the upper body for swimming.

Separates: These wetsuits consist of two pieces divided at the waist. You can mix and match between long and short sleeves depending on activity and temperature.

WETSUIT THICKNESS

Kids wetsuits vary in thickness from a half millimeter to well over 5 mm, and you can find a lot of info on this here. You will find which thickness is for which weather and water temperature in order to choose what your child suits the best.

However, apart from the general recommendations, you should take your kids sensibility to cold into consideration too. The thicker the wetsuit, the more warmth it provides.

WETSUIT FIT

Even though you might think your child will quickly grow into the slightly larger wetsuit, having a wetsuit that feels snug enough but still comfortable is the only way to reap all the benefits from one.

If a wetsuit is too tight and thick, it will be overly restrictive for movement. However, if too loose, the neoprene will allow water to move freely in and out of the suit, defeating the purpose of trapping a little water to generate heat around the body.

So, strike a balance between fit and flexibility as it is important to get all the sizing right in order to help your child feel best in water.

Kids-Wetsuits-Beach-Running
WETSUIT STRUCTURE

Just like the thickness and type, seams and zippers are equally important aspects in choosing kids wetsuits. These will impact the comfort and functionality of it, plus they determine how durable the wetsuit is.

Types of kids wetsuits seams:

  • The over-lock seam construction is one of the usual causes of skin irritations, allowing water to move through the suit and flexibility constraints. This type of stitching causes an inward bulge along the seam, making them more likely to bother the skin and more susceptible to leakage. So, avoid them if you have the chance.
  • The next one is the flatlock, which is a much better type of stitching because it is made by stitching panels over the top of each other to create a flat, smooth seam that is less likely to irritate the skin and enables better flexibility.
  • The blind stitch, also known as G.B.S. (Glued Blind-Stitched), connects panels with stitching inside the neoprene and features a glue layer over the stitching to better secure the seam. In addition to glue, seams of any type may also be bolstered by tape or liquid sealant to protect against leaks.

So, out of these, I would say go for the flatlock in spring suits and with blind-stitch constructions for cold waters and overall wetsuits.

Youth-Wetsuit-Girl
TYPES OF WETSUIT ZIPPERS

With zippers, you have 3 types to choose from:

  • The back zip
  • Chest zip
  • No zip wetsuits (which isn’t actually a zip-type but a wetsuit without zippers)

The first type is actually the traditional form of wetsuit zipper. It stretches from the collar down to the waist, and they bring the most comfort when putting your wetsuit on, although they are a bit restrictive overall and vulnerable to water entry.

The second type, the chest zip, is a short diagonal or horizontal zipper in the front of the wetsuit. With such a zipper, you have higher flexibility and defense against water flushing through the suit. However, from experience, this may not be the best zipper for kids wetsuits because it gives the user a hard time getting in and out.

The no-zip system is actually the best from a water defense standpoint and flexibility when the wetsuit is on. However, getting in and out will be a struggle more so than with the others.

In Summary

All in all, I hope by now you have gotten the chance to see how important wetsuits are for kids of any age for any season.

These 5 top kids wetsuits are truly the best on the market for your little ones from a price point, flexibility, quality of materials, and functionality standpoint.

And now that you know a lot more about kids wetsuits, what is your opinion on buying one? Which one would you go with?

Comment down below and tell me all about your experience with kids wetsuits. You never know who you might help with your experience.

And, in the meantime, I’d love to connect with you on my Facebook and Instagram accounts for more cool tips and recommendations on water sports gear and wetsuits.

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Review written by: Tom

Hi! My name is Tom. During the year I try to be on a paddle board as much as possible. By reading this blog you'll stay updated on everything I test on the water :)