Julbo Looping I
Price Paid: $19.99 on sale at Campmor
The Julbo Looping sunglasses are the best little kid sunglasses I've ever come across. They're available in three sizes (I, II, and II) for infants to 4-year-olds. My toddler daughter has been wearing her pair of Looping I's since she was born, nearly two years ago. She wears them practically ever day, whether it's to play outside, hike, ski, or just go out and about. We don't go anywhere without them.
I'm always surprised by how many parents wear sunglasses but neglect to buy them for their own children, whose eyes are even more sensitive. Kids need adequate eye protection for UV rays too, particularly when out in the snow or on the water. Some parents say, "my kid would never keep them on," but, in my experience, if you treat sunglasses as a regular and expected part of going outside, kids adjust easily to them (not to say they'll never throw them off in a tantrum).
The Julbo Looping Sunglasses are easy to put on and reversible — there is no "right side up" —and easy to keep on with the strap, though a toddler can remove them if they really want to. They're soft and flexible with no scratchy parts for little faces and ears. The frames curve to wrap around and the Spectron 4 lenses offer 100 percent protection from UVA/B/C rays.
These sunglasses are sturdy and handle the abuse of childhood quite well. Ours inevitably have scratches on the lenses after two years of use — regular drops and throws on the ground — and we're about ready for a new pair. And since they're handled by kids, they often are smudged, but they're easy to clean with soap and water. While the lenses are no longer brand new, I think they've held up quite well for all the action they've seen.
The colors are my only nitpick. They're bright and fun, but I wish Julbo also made a more sedate color combo in each size, especially for buyers who'll be using these every day. In any case, be sure to pick a color combination you like and won't mind seeing in pictures for years to come. We bought a grey pair with light green on the sides, though that color combo is no longer offered. They still make a fashion statement, but the grey doesn't clash with various clothing and outerwear.
At $30-32 retail, you can buy cheaper baby sunglasses, but it won't be worth it. With my first child I took the cheaper route and probably bought three pairs of little kid sunglasses for the one pair of Julbos my daughter has used in the same time frame. For her pair, I happened to find them on sale, but I'd still buy them at full price.
The Looping I's are sized for 0-18 months, so it's about time I bought her a larger pair, though I haven't had any major fit issues yet. They're just a bit snug and we're ready to move up in sizing, and we're ready for new, non-scratched lenses. I don't even have to research this next purchase, I'll be getting her the Julbo Looping III's (for 2-4-year-olds).
I'm very happy with the Julbo Looping sunglasses and recommend them frequently to other parents. In fact, I joke that Julbo could give me a commission for how many I've potentially sold by word of mouth — in grocery stores, on the hiking or ski trails, etc. (They don't. I have no affiliation with the company and have never even used a free sample.)
Everyone comments on these glasses and how cute they are (people can't help but point out a baby in sunglasses). Outdoorsy moms especially want to know what they are and where I got them. I've bought pairs as baby gifts for friends and strongly recommend them to friends who are expecting.
If you know a baby or toddler who gets outside (as all kids should), get them a pair of Julbo Looping sunglasses. We love ours. They're indispensable.
While the sunglass lenses have suffered some smudging and scratches -- not too surprising since they're used by little kids — the glasses have proven themselves very sturdy overall.
Just before retiring this pair in the summer of 2010, due to needing a larger size, I drove over them in my driveway with my Subaru Outback. Both lenses popped out and part of one frame cracked, but I think they look pretty darn good for being run over by a car.
If they can withstand that kind of treatment, you should feel pretty secure giving them to your infant or toddler.