Not just an adorable accessory but an important one too, the best kids' sunglasses play a vital role in protecting young eyes from the dangers of UV exposure.
And with a recent study showing that buying cheap sunglasses can increase the risk of blindness and eye cancer, you can never be too careful. "Children need to protect their eyes just as much, if not more than us adults," says Dan McGhee, Director of Clinical Optometry at Vision Express (opens in new tab). "Not only do children spend more time outdoors, but a child’s eye is more vulnerable to UV light. And, since their eyes are still developing, they have clearer lenses which can allow more UV light to reach inside the eye and penetrate the sensitive retina. By the time we reach the age of 18, we will have absorbed 50% of all the ultraviolet light we will ever absorb in our lifetime. Since damage from UV is cumulative, the exposure gained as a child can build up and lead to further problems in the future."
We asked the experts how to choose kids' sunglasses based on age, fit and safety standards, as well as why getting it right is so important for protecting your child's eyesight.
How to choose the best kids' sunglasses
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Safety standards - “Before you buy a pair of cheap sunglasses make sure they provide adequate protection – not all do," says Giles Edmonds, Clinical Services Director at Specsavers (opens in new tab). "Sunglasses don’t need to be expensive but they should always conform to agreed safety standards. Look out for a CE (European Community Standard), BSEN1836 (British Standard) or UV400 markings and aim for a pair that offer 80 per cent light reduction.”
Fit - Not all shapes of sunglasses will provide a spot-on fit, so it pays to try a few different pairs. “The nose bridge should fit well to stop them from slipping with the heat,” explains Kajol Bhagat, dispensing optician at Fashion Eyewear (opens in new tab). “And the frame should give enough coverage to protect eyes from the sunlight. Sunglasses with headbands to keep them close fitted are a good choice for active children.”
"Look for durable features such as flexible hinges too,” adds Giles. “Hinges that extend beyond 90 degrees and have a spring action to keep the fit of the frame snug will decrease the risk of your child's sunglasses falling off or getting damaged during sports and other play.”
Lenses - If your little one normally wears glasses day-to-day, then they’re likely to need sunglasses with prescription lenses. Unfortunately, this does make them pricier, but choosing a sturdier frame will hopefully help them stand the test of time. These can be purchased in-store with an optician. If you’re unsure about whether coloured lenses are safe, Kajol suggests you steer clear. “You should not choose fashion coloured lenses e.g. pink, yellow or blue as these do not protect the eyes as well. Tint shades should preferably be brown or grey.”
1. JoJo Maman Bébé Kids’ Flexible Sunglasses with straps
Does your little one keep trying to take their sunglasses on and off? The handy detachable (and adjustable) strap will not only help to keep this pair in place but is comfortable to wear too. The lenses offer maximum UV protection to keep delicate eyes safe and are designed to fit ages 0-6years. “Unbreakable it seems and my baby loves to wear them to look up at the sky,” raved one online reviewer.
VIEW AT JOJO MAMAN BÉBÉ | £16 (opens in new tab)
2. Babiators Original Keyhole Sunglasses
Made from flexible rubber, these frames can be bent or twisted without breaking. The lenses are shatter resistant and offer 100% UV protection. For extra peace of mind, Babiators will send you a free replacement if your child’s sunglasses are lost or broken within a year of purchase. All you need to do is register within 30 days of buying them, and cover the postage.
VIEW AT BABIATORS | £24 (opens in new tab)
3. Molo Peach Nectar Shyla Sunglasses
These lightweight, durable, fish-shaped frames provide 100% UV (400) category 3 protection that meets or exceeds safety standards. Perfect for the beach, poolside or other summer pursuits.
VIEW AT ALEX AND ALEXA | £29 (opens in new tab)
4. Unofficial Kids Children’s Sunglasses
A great choice for older children, this stylish pair feature round metal frames and a choice of green or pink hued lenses. As you’d expect from opticians Vision Express, these glasses provide 100% UV protection and are polarised, to reduce glare and therefore the need to squint.
VIEW AT VISION EXPRESS | £15 (opens in new tab)
5. Disney Frozen RX Sunglasses
The perfect sunnies for Frozen fans, this Disney-themed pair are sure to become their new favourite accessory. Look out for the Anna and Elsa detailing on the arms . Great for children that wear glasses as there’s the option to add prescription lenses.
6. Ray-Ban Junior RJ9506S
Let your tot make like the grown-ups with their very own pair of junior aviators. One of the best-known and most-trusted sunglasses brands around, Ray-Ban knows a thing or two about what makes a safe and stylish pair of sunglasses. This pair comes with 100% UV protection lenses as standard, and a two-year warranty.
VIEW NOW AT FASHION EYEWEAR | £52.90 (opens in new tab)
7. JoJo Maman Bébé Baby & Kids Sunglasses
Curved, wrap-around lenses like these are a great choice, protecting your child’s eyes from all angles. At a bargain price, it’s no surprise they’ve been one of JoJo Maman Bébé’s bestselling styles for years and come in five sweet colours. Reviewers have commented that they come up small, so size up if your tot is in between sizes.
8. Monnalisa White Roses Sunglasses
With a round frame and softly curved arms, these floral frames provide 100% UV (400) protection which exceed UK safety standards. Stylish and safe for developing eyes.
VIEW AT ALEX AND ALEXA | £68 (opens in new tab)
9. Polarn O. Pyret Baby UV Wraparound Sunglasses
Suitable for ages 6 months to 2 years, these simple but effective sunnies will take good care of delicate eyes. Polarised lenses reduce the amount of glare, while high levels of UV protection ensure top-notch safety.
10. Oakley Frogskins XS Youth Fit Sunglasses
Best known for their performance-focused eyewear, Oakley is a brand you can trust. These sunnies feature Impact Protection Lenses, which have been tested in extreme circumstances to ensure they protect eyes in all conditions. The frames are lightweight and comfortable too, making them a worthwhile investment for mini adventurers.
VIEW AT OAKLEY | £101 (opens in new tab)
11. Grech & Co New Sustainable Sunglasses
This innovative brand's new and improved line of sustainable sunnies have even wider lenses for more UV shielding and excellent UV400 sun protection. The vintage-style, two-tone and tortoiseshell versions are entirely from recycled plastic in various shade combos plus there are matching adult versions available.
VIEW AT KIDLY | £30 (opens in new tab)
12. Babiators Blue Series Flower Sunglasses
Designed to fit little noses without pinching and featuring a silicone strap to keep shades on for 0-2 years, these flexible rubber frames are virtually indestructible. With shatter-resistant, 100% UV protection lenses, they come with a slim felt case to keep the shades looking shiny and new and will be replaced for free if lost or broken within a year.
VIEW AT KIDLY | £38 (opens in new tab)
13. Oakley Junior Radar Ev XS Path Sunglasses
Sunglasses for the seriously sporty, these feature all the high-spec details as the adult version, but carefully scaled down to suit smaller faces. Great for cycling, hiking and even ski trips, the clever lenses work hard to enhance visibility. The nose pad provides extra comfort and the wrap-shape keeps eyes covered from all angles.
VIEW AT OAKLEY | £127 (opens in new tab)
14. Ki ET LA Ours'on Sunglasses
With their cute little bear ears, the Ours'on Sunglasses look adorable for 1-4 year olds while offering anti-UVA, anti-UVB and anti-UVC filters, plus an anti-blue light filter to reduce glare. The oversized lenses completely protect young eyes and the unbreakable polycarbonate lenses are BPA-free. The frames are made of Soft Touch material with ultra-flexible ZigZag hinges, so the arms can be bent in any direction. You can even replace the lenses with a prescription to suit your child.
VIEW AT KIDLY | £35 (opens in new tab)
15. M&S Kids' Heart Sunglasses
These funky rainbow-hued and heart-shaped sunglasses will add a cool finishing touch to summer outfits. With Sun Smart lenses that provide 100% protection from UV rays they're as practical as they are pretty.
VIEW AT M&S | £7 (opens in new tab)
16. Boden Pineapple Sunglasses
These fun, pineapple-shaped frames offer total UV protection with a filter category 3 dark tint that is suitable for sunny conditions. Not suitable for children under three years, they're designed to fit a head circumference of up to 54cm/21 inches. The store also offers 365-day no quibble returns.
VIEW AT BODEN | £13 (opens in new tab)
17. M&S Kids' Peppa Pig™ Sunglasses
Little ones are guaranteed to have fun in the sun with these playful Peppa Pig™ sunglasses. The stylish, round Sun Smart lenses offer 100% UV protection against harmful UV rays so they can get out there and enjoy!
VIEW AT M&S | £7 (opens in new tab)
At what age should children start wearing sunglasses?
“Children under 6 months old should not be exposed to the sun and should be kept under cover where possible,” advises Giles Edmonds, Clinical Services Director at Specsavers (opens in new tab). “But if they are in the sun, they should wear a hat and glasses.”
Thought kids’ sunglasses were just for holidays and the height of summer? Think again.
“Once they reach 6 months, and are more exposed to the sun, we would advise the use of sunglasses,” continues Giles. “It is essential that children are wearing their sunglasses during all the time spent outside, and that includes play time at school. Even on cloudy days, our eyes can be exposed to UV radiation, so sunglasses should be as important as packing their lunch or homework.”
Best kids' sunglasses 2022 to shop now
JoJo Maman Bébé Kids’ Flexible Sunglasses with straps - JOJO MAMAN BÉBÉ | £16 (opens in new tab) Babiators Original Keyhole Sunglasses - BABIATORS | £24 Molo Peach Necar Shyla Sunglasses - ALEX AND ALEXA| £29 (opens in new tab) Unofficial Kids Children’s Sunglasses - VISION EXPRESS | £15 (opens in new tab) Disney Frozen RX Sunglasses - SPECSAVERS | £64 Ray-Ban Junior RJ9506S - FASHION EYEWEAR | £52.90 (opens in new tab) JoJo Maman Bébé Baby & Kids Sunglasses - JOJO MAMAN BÉBÉ (opens in new tab) | £8 (opens in new tab) Monnalisa White Roses Sunglasses - ALEX AND ALEXA| £68 (opens in new tab) Polarn O. Pyret Baby UV Wraparound Sunglasses - POLARN O. PYRET | (opens in new tab)£20 (opens in new tab) Oakley Frogskins XS Youth Fit Sunglasses - OAKLEY | £101 (opens in new tab) Grech & Co New Sustainable Sunglasses - KIDLY| £30 (opens in new tab) Babiators Blue Series Flower Sunglasses - KIDLY| £38 (opens in new tab) Oakley Junior Radar Ev XS Path Sunglasses - OAKLEY | £127 (opens in new tab) Ki ET LAOurs'on Sunglasses - KIDLY | £35 (opens in new tab) M&S Kids' Heart Sunglasses - M&S| £7 (opens in new tab) Boden Pineapple Sunglasses - BODEN | £13 (opens in new tab) M&S Kids' Peppa Pig™ Sunglasses - M&S| £7 (opens in new tab)
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