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How to Dress Your Baby in the Summer

Medically Reviewed by Mary Sweeney, BSN, RN, CEN
Updated
Top tips to keep your baby comfortable and safe in the summer heat.

Do you find yourself wondering how to dress your baby during the hot summer months? As moms, we know how challenging it can be to keep our babies safe from the sun’s harmful rays, cool, hydrated, and protected from bugs.

However, we’ve found the perfect balance. In this article, we’ll share the basics for dressing your baby in the summer and providing an all-around safe environment while still enjoying the outdoors.

With our essential tips, you can still make this a worry-free summer to remember.


By the Water: Beach or Poolside

Taking your baby to the beach can be a fun way to entertain them and introduce them to a new experience. Sharing such moments with them is what makes all the hard work worthwhile.

There are many ways you can get the most from your day out while keeping your baby safe and comfortable.

General Wear for Waterside Activities

Other than the essentials, such as a towel and sun hat, we recommend a few sets of extra clothes. Linen is a popular warm-weather choice for many because of its breathability. Linen is also durable and can withstand all your baby’s mess.

Going Swimming

Swimming is a fantastic way to get your baby accustomed to the water. Bathing suits or wetsuits are a must for making the most of a trip to the beach. There are so many swimsuit options online. We really love this Cuddle Club one-piece suit with plenty of color options for boys or girls.

Product Image of the Cuddle Club Baby Bear Rashguard Sunsuit White/Grey 0-3m

It’s also important to bring along some swim diapers. You can purchase them from most supermarkets. These are some swim diaper details to look for:

  • Stretchy with adjustable sides for a great fit.
  • The leak guard prevents accidents from spilling out.
  • Easy disposal for hygiene.
  • Minimal water absorption to prevent heaviness.
Product Image of the Huggies Little Swimmers Disposable Swim Diapers, X-Small (7lb-18lb.), 12-Count

High-quality swim diapers will help your baby stay comfortable as they don’t become completely saturated in the water, like regular diapers. They’ll also ease the cleanup duties later on. Who doesn’t love less mess?

If your baby can walk already, it might also be a good idea to invest in some water shoes. These are a great way to prevent tiny toes from burning in the sand or on concrete. What’s more, they can protect your little one from sharp pebbles and stones.

Splashing around in the water is always fun, but don’t forget it’s paramount to make sure your baby is safe. Use proper flotation devices, armbands, or floaty rings to set your mind at ease.

Important

Even if your baby or child is wearing a flotation device, you should never leave them unsupervised in or near water — not even for a few seconds.
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Sun Protection

Your baby’s skin is delicate and sensitive, so protecting it from the sun’s harsh rays is vital. One great way to do this is to take a small umbrella with you to prop over your child while relaxing on the sand or at the poolside. You should also bring your baby’s sun hat along — preferably one with a back flap to cover their little neck.

Product Image of the i play. Baby Flap Sun Protection Swim Hat, White, 9-18 Months

Sun lotion is an essential item and should ideally be applied every two hours and always after being in the water. However, there are some lotions experts praise and others they urge you to avoid (1). These are some of the best things to look for:

  • Protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • SPF 30 or higher.
  • Easy to apply with a secure cap.
  • “Chemical-free” or “physical” formulas — look for zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
  • Water resistance is also handy, but remember to reapply after water activities.

It’s important to get the best from the products you spend your hard-earned money on. By doing a little research and taking precautions, you can rest easy.

Out and About

Taking your baby out for a walk is sometimes the only way to get them to sleep. Just because they’re not poolside or at the beach doesn’t mean they don’t need sunscreen, so put on a layer just in case — unless it’s nighttime.

Dress your little one in shorts and a cotton T-shirt for breathability.

If your stroller has an attached pouch for your baby’s feet, remove this on extra-hot days. Replace it with a thin blanket or sheet to accommodate your baby’s comfort while avoiding the risk of overheating.

Product Image of the Stroller Sun Cover (6m+) | UV Sun and Sleep Shade for Baby Strollers & Joggers |...

Most strollers have detachable sun covers you can use.

Consider what shoes your little one should wear if they’re already mobile. Shoes are important for everyday use once your baby is walking, but they can often be restricting. Younger babies will likely be happier with bare feet.

A human’s feet regulate heat, so allowing them to breathe is essential, especially during the summer months. It’s a good idea to purchase a pair of comfortable sandals to keep their feet cool but safe from harm.

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Sleeping Attire

If your baby gets a good night’s sleep, it will make your life much easier. Keeping your baby comfortable during naptime and bedtime is essential. Here are a few tips to make sure they’re at ease when it’s time to nod off:

Turn on the air conditioning or an electric fan. Ensure the room is at a comfortable temperature (68-72 degrees Fahrenheit). This will stop your baby from overheating or from getting too cold.

Avoid heavy sleepwear. The usual baby sleeper is a staple in any baby’s pajama drawer. However, if it’s made from thick material, especially a footed option, it may retain too much heat.

Instead, consider lightweight onesies without feet or a sleeping pouch that allows for more breathability.

Product Image of the ergoPouch 0.2 tog Cocoon Swaddle Bag- 2 in 1 Swaddle Transitions into arms Free...

Young babies can’t properly regulate their body temperatures. They can quickly overheat, causing heat rash, dehydration, heat exhaustion, or heatstroke. To avoid this, double-check that they’re not sweaty or too hot in their sleep attire.

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Cooler Days

Sadly, the sun doesn’t last forever, and the weather can sometimes change in an instant. Be prepared for any situation by packing thin blankets and a light jacket.

It’s a good idea to bring the stroller cover with you, just in case an unfortunate downpour occurs. If you live in a climate where summer rains are common, you may want to invest in a weather shield for your stroller to keep your little one dry on walks.

Product Image of the Bemece Stroller Rain Cover , Universal Stroller Accessory, Baby Travel Weather...

Sometimes it’s nice to enjoy a family evening out, even when the weather isn’t ideal. Having your gear means you won’t have to stay huddled up indoors or cut an outing short.

Your Questions Answered

What if the Weather Takes a Turn Toward Extreme Heat?

The most important thing is to avoid over-dressing your baby. If you feel too hot in your shorts and T-shirt, your baby probably feels the same. Keep your baby in shaded areas, and maintain good hydration to keep them cool.

When you’re indoors, get some electric fans or air conditioning buzzing throughout the house. Try giving yourself and your baby a couple of lukewarm showers or baths throughout the day. This should ease any discomfort and make your babe feel fresh.

Should I Keep My Baby Out of the Sun Completely?

If your baby is younger than 6 months old, it’s best to avoid the sun during midday (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.). If your baby is older or is crawling or walking, it’s good to allow them outside for a few hours a day. Just make sure they’re covered in sunscreen and are wearing a hat and loose clothing (2).

What Are the Signs of Overheating?

It’s difficult to know exactly how your baby’s feeling, as they lack the basic communication skills we learn later in life. But here are a few signs you can watch out for:

  • Skin is hot to the touch.
  • Heat rash or red cheeks.
  • Sweating a lot.
  • Acting weak and tired.
  • General irritability.

If you notice your baby is suffering from any of these crucial signs, make sure to do the following:

  • Undress them.
  • Pat them down with a cool, damp cloth.
  • Give them small sips of water.

However, if these signs don’t improve over time, your baby might be suffering from heat exhaustion. If so, contact your baby’s health provider (3).

What if There’s No Shade Available?

Be prepared for everything by packing an umbrella or sun hat.

Dress your baby in lightweight clothes. Breathable fabrics like cotton are best.

Make sure your baby stays hydrated by frequently offering breast milk or formula, or offer water if they’re older than 6 months.

When Should I Apply My Baby’s Sunscreen?

Thirty minutes before venturing outdoors is the perfect amount of time to let all that UV protection properly soak in (4). Reapply the sunscreen frequently for ultimate protection.

How Can I Protect My Baby From Bug Bites?

We’ve all experienced the itchiness of a bite, and it must be particularly awful for babies who don’t know what’s happening to them. Therefore, wearing thin, high-coverage clothing in known areas of infestation is a must.

If covering your baby’s limbs in the heat is not an option, you can use baby-friendly bug spray. Natural bug sprays are a great way to gain additional protection from nasty critters but may need more frequent reapplication.

Additionally, mosquito repellent stickers are an option, and your toddler might even enjoy them. No fighting the spray bottle with this one!


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Headshot of Mary Sweeney, BSN, RN, CEN

Medically Reviewed by

Mary Sweeney, BSN, RN, CEN

Mary Sweeney, BSN, RN, CEN is an oncology nurse navigator and freelance medical writer. Mary has 4 years of experience as an officer in the Navy Nurse Corps. including emergency/trauma, post-anesthesia, and deployment medicine.