All summer long, when our kids are in or near water, we're thinking about their safety. No matter how good they are at swimming, we have learned time and again that tragic accidents happen. So when someone presents us with the mere possibility of keeping them safer, we are all ears. (Why else would we keep repeating that "don't swim after eating" advice long after learning it's nothing but a myth?)
"Skip blue and green suits and opt for a neon color," Mejia says in her montage of summer tips for parents. "They're much easier to see under water and could save a life in an accident."
This is repeating advice shared by water safety experts earlier this year, though some of us definitely needed to hear it again. In February, a viral post in CPR Kids, an Australian Facebook group run by nurses, showed a photo of a pool that appears empty. Much to viewers' surprise, there is a child in a blue swimsuit at the bottom of the water, which is cloudy with sunscreen after a day of use. Then in March, aquatic safety consultants Alive Solutions published the first of its experiments showing the visibility of various swimsuit colors under water in a pool. It followed up those photos with a more striking post showing swimsuits submerged in lake water.
Best Brightly Colored Swimsuits for Kids' Water Safety
Gap Kids Color Block Swim One-Piece, $14.99 (originally $29.99); gap.com
Cosmo Crew Tie Swimsuit in Lobster; $63.00–$75.00; maisonette.com
Kabety Two-Piece Boy-Short Tankini, $21.99; amazon.com
Kute 'n' Koo Boys Swim Trunks, $18.99–$19.99; amazon.com
Old Navy Functional-Drawstring Solid Swim Trunks for Toddlers, $8.00 with code SWEET (originally $14.99); oldnavy.com
Leveret Toddler Boys and Girls Rash Guard, $16.50; walmart.com
Kanu Surf Haywire Rash Guard, $9.12–$32.12; amazon.com
Cat & Jack Short Sleeve Ombre Shark Rash Guard, $9.74 (originally $12.99), target.com
Tucker & Tate Kids' Long Sleeve Rash Guard Top, $15 (originally $25); nordstrom.com
Nike Kids' Dri-FIT Just Do It Long Sleeve Rash Guard, $34.00; nordstrom.com
TSLA Boys UPF 50+ Long Sleeve Rash Guard, $15.98–$19.98; amazon.com
Soon enough, word spread that light blue and darker colors of swimsuits and trunks can make kids nearly invisible when they dive underwater. If they're in trouble and parents or lifeguards are looking for them, neon orange, yellow, or pink will make them easier to spot.
Of course, some of us were not ready to buy swimsuits and rash guards back in April when the first tips went viral. But now that we've been to beaches, lakes, and pools with our littles, the urgency of that advice becomes clearer.
If your favorite retailers lured you in with aqua marine, deep blue, and pale pastel suits for your kids, don't worry; they will still be good for low-key splashing about where no crowds are around. And by the way, changing your kids' swimsuit color is no substitute for watching them and teaching them good water safety habits. But while pool parties and big beach days are still ahead, we recommend buying some of the brightly colored suits and rash guards below.
Best Color-Blocked One-Piece
We love the way this swimsuit mimics the grown-up color-blocking trend. Just be aware that while hot pink did well in Alive Solutions' pool tests of swimsuit colors, it wasn't as good as the lighter neons in the lake test. Available in sizes XS to XXL.
To Buy: Gap Kids Color Block Swim One-Piece, $14.99 (originally $29.99); gap.com
Best Orange One-Piece
When we normally think of "lobster" and kids swimming, we picture parents who failed in their sunscreen mission. Let's replace that image with this UPF 50+ one-piece made from recycled material. The shoulder ties are fake for the smaller sizes and real for the larger ones. Available in sizes 12m–2y to 13–14y.
To Buy: Cosmo Crew Tie Swimsuit in Lobster; $63.00–$75.00; maisonette.com
Best Neon Tankini
Not every girls' swimsuit has to look like a shrunken women's suit. This tankini has the safe fluorescent green we're looking for and a sporty, comfortable style for playing in the water. Available in sizes 3–4T to 14–15y.
To Buy: Kabety Two-Piece Boy-Short Tankini, $21.99; amazon.com
Best Orange Swim Trunks
Now we know there's a reason those Baywatch lifeguards dressed in orange. Maybe you'll explain that reference to your kid when they're older; for now, just let them know you're happy to see them (really see them) in these trunks. Available in sizes 2T to 18–20.
To Buy: Kute 'n' Koo Boys Swim Trunks, $18.99–$19.99; amazon.com
Best Neon Trunks for Toddlers
In either Bright Lights Neon or Dart Frog Neon, these simple trunks will keep your toddler both highly visible and very comfortable. A functional drawstring means you can tie it tight enough so it won't slide down their hips, and loosen it as they grow. Available in sizes 12–18m to 5T.
To Buy: Old Navy Functional-Drawstring Solid Swim Trunks for Toddlers, $8.00 with code "SWEET" (originally $14.99); oldnavy.com
Best Simple Orange Rash Guard for Toddlers
This bright orange shirt will match with a surprising number of your toddler's existing swimsuits or trunks. There's also a neon green option, if orange ain't their thing. It's even got UV 50 protection. Available in sizes 12–18 months to 5T.
To Buy: Leveret Toddler Boys and Girls Rash Guard, $16.50; walmart.com
Best Sun-Protective Rash Guard for Kids
Protect your child from the sun with this UPF 50 rash guard made of recycled polyester. Reviewers like how easily they can spot their kids in a crowd, though they do report that the shirt is yellower than it appears in the photo. Available in sizes XS to XL.
To Buy: Cat & Jack Short Sleeve Ombre Shark Rash Guard, $9.74 (originally $12.99), target.com
Cutest Yellow Rash Guard
The swimsuit color tests from Alive Solutions didn't show us a regular yellow compared to a neon yellow, but this bright yellow swim shirt with white polka dots is a very pretty alternative for a child who isn't so into the '80s retro look. Available in sizes 3T to 6.
To Buy: Tucker & Tate Kids' Long Sleeve Rash Guard Top, $15 (originally $25); nordstrom.com
Coolest Rash Guard
What's better than a surfboard on a swim shirt? A T-Rex riding a surfboard, of course. This moisture-wicking Nike shirt is cool enough (in every sense of the word) to wear out of the water too. Available in sizes S to XL.
To Buy: Nike Kids' Dri-FIT Just Do It Long Sleeve Rash Guard, $34.00; nordstrom.com
Best Long-Sleeve Rash Guard for Sports
This rash guard is made with water sports in mind. The UPF 50+ fabric is stretchy in four directions, wicks moisture from the skin, and dries quickly, producing a cooling effect. Available in sizes 6 to 16.
To Buy: TSLA Boys UPF 50+ Long Sleeve Rash Guard, $15.98–$19.98; amazon.com