Your Guide to Buying a Kid’s Wetsuit


Your Guide to Buying a Kid’s Wetsuit


Your Guide to Buying a Kid’s Wetsuit


We bet you’re thrilled that your child wants to follow in your footsteps - or rather, your waves. But before you dive in with some one-on-one lessons, it’s important to get your little ones prepared and protected. That starts with choosing a children’s wetsuit that’s the right size and thickness.

In this guide, we’ll be covering the different types of wetsuits available for kids, how you can get the sizing right, and what you need to know about thickness. 

Steamers vs. springsuitskids-wetsuits

Broadly speaking, there are two types of children’s wetsuits to choose from - steamers and springsuits. The styles are really no different to an adult wetsuit.

Steamers are full wetsuits that provide coverage all the way down to the wrists and ankles. Generally, a 2 or 3mm thickness will do the job and keep your child comfortable in the water for longer - unless you’re somewhere really cold. Anything thicker is difficult to get on, and you might find some resistance from your child. Taking on the waters during the colder months? Opt for a 5mm neoprene full wetsuit.

A spring suit or a “shortie” keeps in heat in the body’s core, but has shorter arms and legs. Spring suits usually have a 2 or 3mm thickness, and are an ideal summer suit when the water temperature ranges between 16 and 20 degrees.


Getting the right fit

You already know that wetsuits should be tight (but not restrictive), so don’t be tempted to go up a size so your child can grow into theirs. A wetsuit should act like a second skin. Closed cell neoprene fabric works as a barrier against cold water, being filled with tiny air pockets that slow down the conduction of body heat to keep it inside.

If a wetsuit is too roomy, it can’t do this properly. Too much space will allow water to get between the skin and the suit, and your child will feel the cold faster. Think snuggly, but not so tight that it cuts into the skin.

Check for fit in areas such as the under arms, behind the knees, and the lower back. Pinch the wetsuit in these areas - if it can be barely pinched, the fit should be about right. An ill-fitting wetsuit doesn’t only cause the child to cool down more quickly, but can give them a rash, too.

Should you choose a thicker wetsuit?

Many parents assume that kids need a thicker wetsuit than they do, but that’s not always the case. Consider things like temperature, the resilience of your child, and how long they’ll be in the water when you’re looking at thickness.

Thicker wetsuits are warmer (and better for winter), but they’re also less flexible than thinner options. 

To help, check out this rough guide:

Water temperature

Wetsuit thickness

Up to 10ºC


11 to 15ºC

Between 3 and 5mm

16 to 20ºC

2 or 3mm

More than 20ºC

3mm or less

Live chat with us!

If you still have questions about finding the right wetsuit for your children, Freeride can help! Use our LIVE CHAT feature directly from the website for more wetsuit buying tips. If you’re nearby, why not pay us a visit and have your children try on a few suits? We’re at The Boundary, 5 Vitasovich Ave, Waitakere, Henderson, Auckland.

By Freeride Surf Skate