We live for summer!
Here in the Pacific Northwest winters are long and grey. Just about the time you think you can't take another day of rain, we get a beautiful spring day that makes all those drizzly days worth it. Sunny days here are amazing and those first ones of the season always seem to sneak up on me.
Now that I have kids, I'm hoping to be ahead of those surprise days of warmth and sunshine with a well-stocked kit of "fun in the sun" essentials to keep everyone safe and healthy.
This list was compiled from personal experience as well as recommendations from thousands of parents in our Bear loves Meadow community. Did we miss something? Please let us know!
A sunhat with good coverage is an essential defense against the sun's rays and my favorite for babies and toddlers is the iPlay Flap Sun Protection Hat.
We tried quite a few sun hats with our daughter when she was about six months old (and generally disliked having anything on her head). She actually kept this one on! It's very lightweight and the brim stays up and out of her eyes, so she didn't really notice it. She's two years old now and this style is still her (and my) favorite.
The wicking liner is breathable for comfort, and the UPF 50+ material dries quickly if it gets wet. The tie strap keeps the hat in place, and the adjustable toggle creates a custom-fit as baby grows. It comes in lots of colors and patterns, too. For older kids, SwimZip's "Fun Sun Day Play Hat" has consistently high ratings a great reviews.
See it here → iPlay Flap Sun Protection Hat
Warm weather and water basically go hand-in-hand, so a pair of water-friendly shoes like the Native Jefferson are a must-have.
The style and bold colors of these shoes initially caught my eye, but the functionality and versatility are what made me love them. I first noticed them when a friend was wearing a bright red pair at a BBQ and I thought they looked super cute. Then, I noticed her daughter was wearing a tiny matching pair and knew I needed to find out what they were. We bought a pair for our daughter last summer, specifically for water-related activities, but they soon became her favorites for everyday wear because they were so comfortable.
They are lightweight, cushy, foamy rubber and I love that they're odor resistant and washable - Native suggests hand-washing, but I’ve thrown them in the clothes washer with no problems. Plus, there's the added bonus of being style-conscious enough to wear as an everyday shoe. They come in an infinite assortment of colors and are BPA and phthalate free, animal by-product free.
See it here → Native Jefferson Shoes
A shoulder-covering swimsuit provides important sun protection on those sun-loving shoulders and SwimZip has great easy on easy off designs.
We love the signature design of SwimZip's rash guards which feature a full zipper down the front – they are soooo easy to put on and take off! Anyone's who has tried to get a wet rash guard over the head of a squirming child will appreciate this ingenious design!
The founder of SwimZip is a skin cancer survivor who wanted to create a safer swimsuit. She actually went on Shark Tank (my husband and I love that show) and Lori Greiner invested in her product which launched them into the big time. It's just a really well thought out product with features like a no-pinch zipper flap, tagless neck and flat-lock stitching make it really comfy.
Their material is rated UPF 50+ and is chlorine-resistant, too. They have super cute styles and their swimwear comes in sizes for babies, toddlers, children and adults, so the whole family can be stylishly coordinated if you wish. We picked up a long-sleeve rash guard in the Palm Leaf pattern for this summer and it's adorable!
See it here → SwimZip Swimwear
For protection and style, we love Babiators Sunglasses.
Doctors say that if the sun is strong enough to require sunblock, you should try to get your child to wear sunglasses. We did a lot of "trying" with our daughter, but she didn't like anything on her head/face until she was about nine months old. We even tried the wrap-around sunglasses, but those only made her more frustrated. Once she started to realize all the "cool kids" (aka Mom and Dad) were wearing sunglasses, she started to warm up to the idea of wearing them.
We like Babiators because they are are free of toxic chemicals, protective from harmful rays and very durable. The timeless styles and colors look incredibly cute on kids! Their polycarbonate UV400 lenses block 100% of UVA and UVB rays and are impact- and shatter-resistant. If your kid does somehow break them, they offer an excellent guarantee: they'll replace a broken or lost pair for free within the first year.
See it here → Babiators Sunglases
The iPlay Snap Reusable Swim Diaper helps the littlest swimmers enjoy the water.
iPlay is the original reusable swim diaper and has a patented three-layer design. The wicking liner helps prevent diaper rash, the inner absorbent layer helps protect against messes outside the pool, and the waterproof outer layer works with the snug-fitting waist and legs to provide secure protection.
The snaps down the side make it really easy to get on an off which I've been thankful for when my daughter is done for the day and ready to get back into dry clothes. The prints are so cute, we've used it as swim bottoms on their own with a rash guard on top which helps keep the beach bag a little bit lighter.
See it here → iPlay Reusable Swim Diaper
Mineral-based and Safe: thinkbaby Sunscreen
Sunscreen is a summer essential especially for places that are hard to keep covered. We got hooked on think baby sunscreen because it absorbs easily and is free of harmful chemicals. The EWG (Environmental Working Group) rates it a 1, which is their highest rating for sunscreens.
I have always loved the coconut smell of sunscreen, but for my kids, I prefer no strong smell and this one is close to scent-free. It offers SPF 50+ protection from broad-spectrum UVA and UVB rays. It's water-resistant for up to 80 minutes and starts working immediately on application.
See it here → thinkbaby Sunscreen
Easy to Set-Up: Pacific Breeze Easy Setup Beach Tent
When natural shade isn't available, a beach tent is a great way to take a break from the sun. The top features we looked for in a beach tent were ease of setup and takedown, portability and functional design, and this tent delivers on everything. It's not the cheapest tent out there, but this tent is worth the money because it's clear that Pacific Breeze spent a lot of time thinking through all the details.
It takes less than 30 seconds to set up and take down, which is essential when you're wrangling kids or the only adult on a beach outing. The windows are nice and large to provide a nice breeze on hot days and it has easily assessable pockets where you can store small items like sunscreen or keys. It's very lightweight and compact to travel when it's packed up in its bag.
See it here → Pacific Breeze Easy Setup Beach Tent
Premium Features: Hydro Flask Stainless Steel Kids Water Bottle
Once you've got sun protection covered, it's important to stay hydrated, too. This is truly the Cadillac of kids water bottles. It's made with stainless steel and has double wall vacuum insulation just like Hydro Flask's adult water bottles, but is just the right size for little hands. We have a drawer full of water bottles at our house, and this is the one we use the most. It's great for even the warmest days because it keeps water nice and cold for the whole day. I also find it pretty easy to clean which is always a bonus.
See it here → Hydro Flask Stainless Steel Kids Water Bottle
Soft and Compact: Wildhorn Akumal Beach Towel
And for when it's time to dry off, we found the perfect "best of both worlds" towel. Now, I love me a big fluffy beach towel, but they take up so much space in my bag. I've tried bringing smaller bath towels instead, but no one wants a puny sized beach towel, it's just sort of sad. I figured there must be some sort of solution. This towel was what I had been looking for. It was lightweight, soft and large, while also very compact in my bag. It's super absorbent and can actually hold 3-4 times its weight in water!
It's made of microfiber which dries three times faster than cotton. It also has a hang loop on the corner so it can be easily hung up to dry. It even comes in a mesh pouch tightly pack it up.
See it here → Wildhorn Akumal Beach Towel
Just the Right Size: Oniva Zuma Cooler Backpack
It's no secret, kids like to snack and there's nothing like a picnic lunch on a warm summer day! Traditional coolers are bulky and awkward to carry, I love this backpack style! The top mesh section can hold gear or food that doesn't need to stay cold and the bottom is insulated with Thermoguard to keep food and drinks cold. I like the simple style and awesome versatility.
See it here → Oniva Zuma Cooler Backpack
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