Let’s Debate: How young is too young for a bikini?

Super cute or super wrong? Image Source

Super cute or super wrong?
Image Source

I had no plans to buy my two-year-old daughter a swimsuit. After last year’s swim diaper incident, I was also not in a hurry to head to the pool. My daughter is more of a land lover than a water dweller. I figured we could get through the summer without a swimsuit. Then a pool party invite popped in my inbox.

I was relieved when my sister offered to pick up a swimsuit for my daughter. When she asked what I wanted, my answer was simple, “Make it a one-piece, Sis.”

My sister’s response was simple, too, “Of course, a one-piece.”

One-piece swimsuits don’t take as much energy

With a one-piece swimsuit, I didn’t have to give my sister any instructions about what to get. It could be pink or blue, Dora the Explorer or a non-character, sparkly or understated, just as long as it covered my child’s hide.

On the other hand, a toddler-bikini purchase would have required a bevy of phone calls, text messages, and cell phone pictures from inside the store. My sister would ask me something like, “Do you think this one is “too much” for baby girl?”

What we’re really asking each other is whether or not a bikini is too grown up for a two-year old. Whether or not we are making my daughter more susceptible to would-be predators. And whether or not wearing a bikini at a young age puts a girl on the fast track to dressing like a…dressing inappropriately.

Babi-kinis are marketed for newborns

Not every parent subscribes to my one-piece, les-worry philosophy. A quick visit to any pool or beach makes that abundantly clear, and don’t even get me started on what young girls are wearing to the mall.

Parents in search of the perfect bikini for their newborn are in luck. Babikini is a company that manufacturers bikinis starting at 0 to 6 months.

“What started out as gag gifts for a couple of business associates has turned into a thriving business,” reads a statement on the Babi-kini website. “Everyone who saw the little bikinis wanted one and so the story goes. Fast forward several years later and here we are up to our eyeballs in itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny-yellow-polka-dot-bikinis, and we love it!”

Red baby bikini

Screenshot – http://www.babikini.com/

Readers: What is the minimum age that you would let your daughter wear a bikini? What are your rules about kids and fashion?

Play nice: around here all opinions are respected, encouraged, and appreciated.

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About Nicole Robinson

Nicole Robinson is a Dallas-based freelance writer who specializes in college planning, parenting, women’s lifestyle, education, and self-help. But she's always hungry to munch on new topics. In addition to writing for The BookWormMama blog, Nicole provides content, copywriting and proofreading services for various publications.


Let’s Debate: How young is too young for a bikini? — 31 Comments

  1. Personally, when it comes to me, I soon found i preferred a 2 piece for my daughter because changing her or as she got older, going potty was such a pain in a one piece. HOWEVER!! I NEVER bought her a “bikini” I don’t think something that resembles an adult women’s bathing suit is appropriate for any aged child so I always got the tank-kini styles ones.. the ones that have either a tank top or a rash guard and then a bottom or shorts. Tthis let me have the ease of taking off the bottoms but didn’t take away from how young she was.
    Rachel Young recently posted..Taking manliness to the max – Man Tables, the gadget James Bond wishes he owned!My Profile

  2. I always loved tankinis for kids…it made the bathroom trips easier for them! My 14 year old daughter wears bikinis now, but I don’t remember her wearing them last year. I know she wore mostly one pieces for a long time and for the life of me, I cannot remember what she wore when she was really little. I do wish that manufacturers would stop making skimpy clothes for kids though!
    Michelle recently posted..Memories Captured: The Calm of the BeachMy Profile

  3. I don’t have an exact age, yet, but we do have a two piece. It’s not a bikini but a tankini – so pretty modest. It was a hand-me-down and beggars can’t be choosers, I suppose. If it were up to me, I’d buy her a one piece and make it a bit snazzy because she likes that. I was afraid this post would be “how old is too old for a bikini” because I look terrible in one pieces!
    Tamara recently posted..I Love Everything About You.My Profile

  4. My daughter is 3 and she has yet to wear a two-piece. Some of them are very cute and I don’t knock the mothers who buy them for their daughters, but I don’t intend for my 3 year old to have on a matching bikini to mimic her grown mother. Low rise jeans, off the shoulder shirts and the like are simply too much for me and my little one. I have seen some very tasteful two pieces I just haven’t drank of that cup yet. Great post. #sitssharefest
    Andrea recently posted..An Ode to My HusbandMy Profile

  5. What I really think we need to ask ourselves is, what makes a bikini a wiser choice? First, I don’t buy the excuse that bikinis make bathroom breaks easier, because, really, how much longer will it actually take to pull down a one piece suit? Second, I don’t buy the excuse that bikinis are cute for babies, because there are a lot of cute swimsuits out there that don’t involve a bare midriff. Third, if we want daughters to match their mommies, you don’t need the same style clothing. A matching color or pattern will do. Fourth, we are the parents. We are the adults. We need to know when to put our foot down, even if it means disappointing a child begging for a bikini. Fifth, like it or not, in this society, bikinis are sexual. We wouldn’t even be having this discussion if they were not. Do we really want to attract the wrong kind of attention out there? Sixth, for health reasons, one piece swimsuits cover more skin and leave people less prone to sunburn. Finally, what we dress our children in IS our own personal choice. But we must search our hearts and really ask ourselves: Am I going to have even an ounce of regret allowing my daughter to wear this? If the answer is yes, then you already know what she should be wearing.
    P.S. I have a three year old daughter. We have never broached the subject of the appropriateness of bikinis. Recently we were at the Baby Gap looking for swimsuits, and she eyed a fellow toddler girl trying on a bikini and prancing down the dressing room hallway. My daughter looked straight at me and asked, “Mommy, why is that baby girl wearing a big girl swimsuit?” The toddler girl’s mom gave me quite the angry look…I wonder what upset her so much if her heart was REALLY okay with the bikini.

  6. I think I might have had one bikini for my daughter when she was a baby, I can’t remember. It’s not so much the bikini that bothers me as it is the style of bikini. Some are very girly and cute, and some are just downright wrong for ANY age. I do like two pieces though and favor tankini’s over one pieces because it’s so much easier for the bathroom. I think a little girl or tween should look like a kid, not a sex symbol!! Thanks for a good conversation of the topic!

  7. My daughter just turned 9 and only successfully convinced me to let her get a two piece by explaining how much more work it it to go to the bathroom if you are wearing your swimsuit under a shirt. We got her a rash guard and now she thinks she’s just as cool as the other girls.
    a happier girl recently posted..Growing UpMy Profile

  8. I have two daughters (1 & almost 4), and it’s definitely easier to take my oldest to the bathroom in a two-piece. She’s also very tall for her age, so some of the one pieces aren’t long enough for her frame. However, I do agree that some of the designs are inappropriate for little girls. There’s a difference between a tankini and a string bikini! Right now my daughter has a two-piece that is shorts on the bottom and an SPF short-sleeve on top. It’s perfect for going down the slides at the waterpark, plus it doesn’t take as long to put on sunscreen! Win-win!
    Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted..Three Cheers for the DaddiosMy Profile

  9. My daughter is 17 and has been wearing two pieces since she was little. There are many different styles of two pieces. Also, since I am a survivor of sexual abuse, I can confidently say a pervert is a pervert and it will not matter what one is wearing. Women wearing pants get raped. I say that because no girl or woman should believe what she wears give another the right to touch her. I also firmly believe it is my right to wear what I wish on my body. Something I have instilled in my daughter. That means if she likes it and is comfortable wearing it don’t allow others and their opinions to steal her confidence. Thankfully, she is a confident young woman who has graduated early from high school and plans on opening her own business after college.

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