Your baby's first summer wouldn't be complete without the requisite floatation ring, pail and shovel combo, sun block, sunshade, and swimsuit. Many parents dread the idea of fighting with a tiny piece of Lycra just to bring their baby in a pool or lake. This is understandable. It's no fun struggling to put an adult body in Lycra, never mind a wriggly baby. Once parents see how adorable their babies look in their bright colored swimsuit and the sun protection they offer, however, the dread quickly turns into cries of "you look so cute!"

Swimsuits offer very little thermal protection. Swimsuits are really just fashionable coverage for public swimming- always have a hooded towel or robe on hand. Most baby swimsuits are made of Lycra or spandex. Some baby swimsuits are made of a polyester- or cotton-Lycra blend, which are just as stretchy but a little softer. There are many baby swimsuits that are made of SPF-protected Lycra to give your baby an extra bit of sun protection. These swimsuits are especially suited to infants under 6 months who cannot wear sunscreen or sun block.

Swimsuits are either one-piece, two-piece, or full body. Shorts-style one-piece swimsuits are most popular for boys; one-piece tank style swimsuits are most popular for girls. Two-piece swimsuits for girls are available with simple bikini-style bottoms or skirted bottoms.

A popular choice for many parents is the full body swimsuit, similar to a wetsuit. The full body swimsuits are typically made of SPF-protected Lycra with a zippered front. The zipper closure makes it much easier to dress and undress your baby, but the stretch and rebound nature of Lycra means you must take extra care to not pinch your baby when closing the zipper.

A new baby swimsuit quickly gaining in popularity is the swimsuit with a flotation device built right into the suit. Flotation swimsuits are made with foam inserts balanced between the front and back of the swimsuit, keeping your baby's head out of the water while helping them to remain stable in the water. Some flotation swimsuits are made so you can remove the foam inserts while you wash the swimsuit, others are fully machine washable with the foam inserts enclosed in the swimsuit, so that your baby can't pull them out while floating around the pool. The flotation swimsuits do not restrict your baby's movements, making them a comfortable and safe alternative to other swimsuits.

The baby swimsuit you choose is really a matter of preference in style. Swimsuits offer no thermal protection and few are SPF protected, so go ahead, and pick the cutest you can find! Just don't forget the flotation ring, pail and shovel, sunblock, and sunshade.

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