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

You had your baby just in time to not have to make it through pregnancy in the summer heat, but now you’re worried about your baby being out in it. Between the bright sun with its UV rays, the dropping temperatures at night, and the outdoor heat while taking a walk, what are the best baby summer clothes? Here are our top do’s and don’ts.

Baby boy in a crib
Pixel Shot/Shutterstock

Do dress them in layers during the day, but don’t use layers overnight

If you’re going outside, you can bring a light hoodie to cover up their arms just for sun time and 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 be going from air conditioning to sweltering outside and from sun to shade often throughout your time out. Around the house, you’ll be able to tell what comfortable outfit is needed for the indoor temperature. The general rule is that a baby can use 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.)

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 may work best. Keep the baby’s room as temperature-stable as possible overnight with the thermostat and a fan. It is not recommended to put them to sleep while 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, depending on the room’s temperature.

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

Do protect from the sun

The easiest way to do this 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 for some reason, cover their skin with clothing head to toe. Don’t cover a stroller or car seat with a blanket because this can cause 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 very lightly in just a onesie and a protective hat. Babies can easily overheat in a carrier in the summer, so give them regular breaks outside of it.

Don’t use tight or thick fabrics

The key to summer clothing for newborns is breathability. This means you want light and loose onesies, pants, and shirts. Think cotton, not Lycra.

You might be worried about your baby overheating or being too chilly. 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 can be dangerous. Make sure both during the day and overnight your baby’s clothes are breathable and light.

Do 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.

Feeling better about figuring out how to dress a newborn in summer? Just remember these do’s and don’ts, and you’ll be dressing your new little one with confidence.

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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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