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How to dress a newborn in the summer (day and night)

Worried about that precious skin in the blazing sun? Here's how to dress a newborn in summer so they stay safe

Baby boy in a crib.
Pixel Shot/Shutterstock

You had your baby just in time to not have to be pregnant while melting in the summer heat, but now you’re worried about your baby being out in that type of weather. Between the bright sun with its UV rays, the dropping temperatures at night, and the outdoor heat and humidity while taking a walk, your babe’s summer wardrobe needs some planning. What are the best baby summer clothes to take your tot from day to night? Here are our top do’s and don’ts for how to dress a newborn in summer.

A parent putting clothes on a little baby.
Yellow Dog Productions/Getty Images

When to dress your baby in layers

  • Dress them in layers during the day, but don’t use layers overnight

During the day

If you’re going outside, bring a light hoodie to cover up their arms from the sun, then take it off once you’re back in the shade. Pack your diaper bag with options of shorts or pants and short-sleeved or long-sleeved tops because you could go from air conditioning to sweltering outside heat and from sun to shade often throughout your day.

Around the house, you’ll be able to tell what comfortable outfit is needed for the indoor temperature. The general rule is a baby should have one more layer than what you’re comfortable in. So, if you’re wearing a T-shirt, they might want a cardigan over their T-shirt.

At night

Don’t use layers for sleep time because a sweatshirt or other layer could move on to their face and pose a suffocation hazard. At night, a light bodysuit works best. Keep the baby’s room as temperature-stable as possible overnight and keep the fan on.

It is not recommended to put them to sleep wearing a newborn hat, as it could slide off and be a suffocation risk. Same for newborn mittens. Cover their body in one layer of footie pajamas, and they should be all set for nighttime.

If you are swaddling, that one layer will often be enough, so dress them in only a diaper underneath it. If you feel you cannot keep the room cool and they may overheat in a swaddle, try swaddling from the chest down with the arms out.

A baby in summer clothing.
Settaphan Rummanee/Shutterstock

Protect them from the sun

The easiest way to keep the sun’s rays away is to keep a baby indoors or in the shade. If you’re at the beach, keep them under an umbrella. If you’re on a walk, keep the stroller shade up. If they’re resting on you in a carrier, put a hat with a wide 360-degree soft brim on their head.

The FDA doesn’t recommend sunscreen for babies under six months old, so limiting sun exposure is important. You can let them get bits of sunlight but not prolonged exposure. If you do think sun exposure will be unavoidable, cover their skin with clothing head to toe. Don’t cover a stroller or car seat with a blanket because this causes overheating and breathing issues.

If your little one is going to be covered by a carrier wrap on your chest, they will be picking up your body heat and covered from the sun by the wrap, so dress them lightly in just a onesie and a protective hat. Babies easily overheat in a carrier in the summer, so give them regular breaks outside of it.

A mom making a cloth diaper change on a baby
Goncharov_Artem / Shutterstock

Stay away from tight and thick fabrics

  • Think cotton, not Lycra.

The key to summer clothing for newborns is breathability. This means you want light and loose onesies, pants, and shirts. The same fabrics and fit you would want in the summer is how you should dress baby.

You might be worried about your baby overheating during the day or being too chilly at night. It’s better to let them feel a little uncomfortable from being too cool (they’ll cry to let you know to add a layer) than overheating them with thick, nonbreathable fabrics, which is dangerous. Make sure during the day and overnight your baby’s clothes are breathable and light.

A baby getting dressed with the help of a parent.
Pollyana Ventura / Getty Images

Use a UV-protected hat that covers the neck and shoulders

When you’re taking your baby out in the sun, look for hats that have UPF built into the fabric, a wide brim, a neck cover, and an under-chin strap. The strap will keep the hat on, but it also means you should not leave your baby unattended while wearing it.

It’s still best to keep your baby in the shade, but when you do go out into the sunshine for more than a couple of minutes, you want a good hat with you. This hat has UPF 50+, which means it provides good UV protection. Just like all other summer clothes, the hat should be breathable.

A mother changing a baby on a bed.
Alina Troeva / Shutterstock

Temperature tips to keep baby comfy

Where you live will definitely change what your baby wears in the summer, but there are a few standard tips to keep that newborn babe at the right temperature.

  • Don’t only rely on that thermostat.

Not all thermostats tell the truth and not all give the most accurate reading, with some being off by a few degrees.

  • Always dress baby for bed.

Yes, we know that adorable diaper-only look is irresistible, but even a single onesie is still needed.

  • Do the feel test if you’re unsure.

Feel the back of that precious neck to get a more accurate reading of how hot or cold your little one is. Your child should feel warm, but not sweaty or even clammy to the touch.

If you notice any of these, your baby is too warm

No matter where you are out at during the summer, if you see any of these signs, you’ll need to get baby cooled down in a hurry. Try taking off some of their clothing or getting them inside to a cooler temperature as soon as possible.

  • A rash or red bumps on the skin all of a sudden.
  • Baby is sweating on their back, neck, head, and/or chest.
  • Their skin is red — and getting redder.
  • Their heartbeat is too fast.
  • They throw up.

Feeling better about figuring out how to dress a newborn in summer? Just remember these tips and you’ll be dressing your little one with confidence. Keeping a baby cozy in the hottest months isn’t the easiest job, but you’ll be able to keep your nugget cool and safe from the sun when they are dressed appropriately and properly.

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Sarah Prager
Sarah is a writer and mom who lives in Massachusetts. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, National…
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