As a parent, you’ll already know that protecting your baby from the elements is an important part of your role. However, some families are less aware that hot weather can come with just as many risks to your baby’s health as cold weather does.
As well as the obvious threats such as overheating, your baby can become more prone to things like dehydration, the inability to sleep properly, increased skin irritation, and even higher chances of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Fortunately, whether you’re handling extreme cold temperatures or hot summer nights, a little preparation goes a long way when it comes to overcoming any extreme weather conditions. For anyone wondering: “what should my baby wear to sleep at night during summer?”, we’ve outlined some key considerations and tips for dressing your little one.
Best Clothing for Babies in Summer
Generally, your baby can wear all the normal clothing options that are appropriate for their age. For instance, the swaddle, a parenting favorite that many babies wear until around 3-5 months of age, can still be worn on warmer nights. And the same goes for combinations of rompers, onesies, baby sleep sacks, and pajamas, which are all technically fine for babies during summer.
However, the important part is to make sure clothing materials are thin and breathable. While clothing options like swaddles can naturally create extra warmth, raising the baby’s body temperature higher than normal, you can still use them as long as you opt for lightweight blankets and sheets.
You should also remove any unnecessary layering. The Canadian Pediatric Society (CPS) warns against overheating your baby with too many layers as part of their advice for parents during warmer weather.
For a detailed breakdown of what baby should wear to sleep at different ages, take a look at our blog: What Should My Baby Wear to Sleep? — The Right Products for the Right Time.
Health Risks for Babies During Hot Weather
Babies find it harder to cool off than adults. The youngest infants may also find it hard to communicate the fact that they’re way too hot and need their clothing or environment adjusted so they can cope with the temperature. Many pediatricians recommend avoiding the sun and heat as much as possible, especially during temperatures over 80 degrees.
As a baby can’t sweat properly until they’re older, they don’t have the same ability to cool off their bodies. This can lead to heatstroke much quicker than an older child or adult. Signs of heatstroke and heat exhaustion include:
- Rising body temperature (above normal levels)
- Red, hot, and dry skin
- Rapid breathing
- Coma (not responding when touched or called)
If you think your baby or young child is suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke, move to a cool area and remove all extra clothes. Also, try to give your baby fluids (unless unconscious and not able to swallow) and seek medical advice.
Difficulty Waking Up
Babies tend to sleep too deeply when they’re hot. While this may sound like more of an advantage, the truth is that it’s incredibly dangerous if your child cannot arouse properly from sleep. When you're thinking “what should baby wear to sleep?”, this might not be the first thing you think of, but it has been found to increase the risk of SIDS, so it’s certainly worth considering.
Young infants often seem content taking in the sun while you’re relaxing in the garden or park, but continuous exposure can sometimes cause their body temperature to rise dramatically. As this happens, the water content of their bodies will fall, which can lead to dehydration.
While it might be difficult on pleasant summer days, try to limit your outdoor time to short intervals and keep them in the shade when the sun is at its strongest. And always keep them fully hydrated and equip them with a sun hat! Some tips for hydrating your baby include:
- Offer small frequent sips of age-appropriate fluids (breast milk/water)
- Give your little one adequate feeding throughout the day
- Avoid dairy, juice, sodas, and sports drinks
- If dehydrated, consider using an oral rehydration solution (ORS) to replenish lost water and electrolytes
Certain skin conditions have the potential to flare up during the summer months. Whether it’s because of increased perspiration, direct exposure to the sun, overheating, or dehydration, you could see chronic skin diseases like eczema rear its ugly head in hot weather.
Again, removing unnecessary layers and keeping your little one hydrated, cool, and protected from too much direct sun can really help here.
Sunburn is redness and inflammation of the skin caused by exposure to sunlight. A burn typically begins to appear two to four hours after exposure, but the pain can last for a good few days. For your little one's delicate skin, the severity can be even worse.
Prevention is paramount when it comes to sunburns, and using sun hats and protective clothing is essential. The irony is that darker clothing items (the ones you’ll be trying to avoid during summer) can be better at deflecting harmful UV rays. The easiest solution is to avoid direct exposure to the sun altogether and opt for shade whenever possible!
When you're thinking “what should baby wear to sleep?” remember those warm temperatures can cause them to sleep too deeply, increasing the risk of SIDS.
Protect Against Colds, Even During Summer!
Just because it’s warmer, it doesn’t mean your child will be immune to colds and harmful viruses. Parents might be tempted to underdress their children during hot weather, however, this can increase the chance of them catching a cold when temperatures drop at night.
When planning what your baby should wear to sleep, remember it’s still important for you to cover your baby’s chest at night to reduce the impact of draughts, as well as follow all the normal precautions against catching colds and infections.
Match Clothing to Different Temperatures
Temperatures can fluctuate massively throughout the day. If possible to control, the ideal temperature for your baby’s room is between 60-70 °F (16-20 °C), however, the summer months might make this difficult to achieve.
We’ve mentioned before that a good general rule is to dress your little one in slightly warmer clothing than you would be comfortable wearing yourself, however, as long as you watch out for sudden drops in temperatures at night, you can adjust this rule slightly and do without the additional layer.
E.g. Light bodysuits (short sleeve) or swaddle garments
E.g. Light bodysuits (long sleeve) or swaddle garments
E.g. Light bodysuits (long sleeves) and a onesie or swaddle garment
E.g. Thick bodysuits (long-sleeve) and a sleeping sack or wearable blanket
Extra clothing and layers
E.g. Thick bodysuits (long-sleeve) and a sleeping sack or wearable blanket, and an additional layer for extra coziness
If you need some help with baby clothing terminology when figuring out what your baby should wear to sleep in summer, check out our blog: The Ultimate Guide to Buying Baby Clothes Online.
What Materials Should My Baby Wear to Sleep in Summer?
A wide variety of fabrics are suitable for infant baby clothes. And while it’s usually fine to assume clothing made for children uses appropriate materials for their safety and comfort, we’ve learned that it’s always important to check! And when the weather is hot, it’s extra important to make sure you’re choosing materials that can help your baby cope with the temperature, rather than make their lives harder.
Cotton is one of the best fabrics for hot weather (and baby clothes in general). Not only is it cheap and widely available, but it is also soft, lightweight, and breathable. More than other fabrics, it will allow heat to escape the body rather than locking it in, which is crucial for helping your baby stay cool when it is already hard for them to sweat properly.
At Sleeping Baby, we have a number of 100% organic cotton baby clothing options for parents who prefer to use completely natural materials or have babies with extra sensitive skin.
Linen is another top choice for summer. It’s a great, breathable fabric that allows the body to cool when hot. It is also very light due to the way it’s loosely woven. The downside is that linen is a little more expensive to buy, and requires more maintenance than cotton due to its ability to become easily wrinkled.
Rayon is a man-made fabric blended from cotton, wood pulp, and other natural or synthetic fibers. It has a similar look and feel to silk but is far more affordable, making it a popular choice for the summer wardrobe.
The biggest downside of rayon is that it’s usually recommended to hand wash or dry clean most clothing items so that they don’t shrink in the wash.
While some prefer to avoid synthetic clothing options altogether, they do come with a number of benefits to both children and parents. As well as increased functionality like stretch capacity, quicker drying times, and even water resistance in some cases, synthetics can also be made to be more durable than natural materials.
For example, our lightweight collection at Sleeping Baby draws on the breathable and flexible qualities of polyester to offer children a great option for warm weather, while still offering the style and comfort benefits of cotton. Also, a cotton-polyester blend will keep you from having to iron so often!
General Baby Tips for Handling Warmer Temperatures
Overheating isn’t just a hot-weather occurrence — cold days with your heating ramped up indoors can also be dangerous for newborns who are not yet able to regulate their own body temperature. Here are a few tips you can apply to warmer temperatures in general.
Even if your baby isn’t sweating much, they could still be losing important fluids in hot temperatures. Check for a red face, warm skin, and heavy breathing as a way to measure dehydration, rather than simply a moist brow.
When your room temperature is over 75 degrees, one layer should be enough for your baby. More layers can be introduced later if the temperature drops during the night for any reason, such as the sun going down or your central heating switching off.
Provide Good Ventilation
Lack of ventilation reduces the precious oxygen babies need to survive. This can make it much harder for them to breathe than it would for adults and can accelerate dehydration and overheating. Even a few moments in a hot room or parked car can cause their temperature to spike.
When possible, open windows and internal doors to improve the circulation of air, and if necessary, use a fan to improve the flow inside the room. However, don’t place your baby’s crib too near to strong air currents or they might catch a chill.
Avoid Direct Sunlight
Most pediatricians will tell you to simply avoid direct sun as the best way to reduce its negative impact on your baby. Infants are particularly susceptible to the sun's harmful rays, which can cause sunburn on their thin and delicate skin. Also, sunburns and suntans have a way of making scars from cuts and graze permanent, if they’re exposed too much
While you can consider using sunscreen on babies, some child and health organizations such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) don’t recommend that it’s used for infants below the age of 6 months. For newborns, it’s best to avoid direct sun exposure completely, whether it’s winter or summer.
If you’re taking your child outside, protect their heads from the sun with a hat. Even on the greyest of days, strong rays can penetrate the clouds and reach your little one. And remember, thinner and lighter colored clothes are less protective against the sun and could leave your infant more vulnerable to UV rays, so don’t rely on them alone as your solution to hot weather.
Most pediatricians will tell you to simply avoid direct sun as the best way to reduce its negative impact on your baby.
Keeping Your Baby Happy During Summer
Wondering “what should baby wear in summer?” is just one more way to ensure they are healthy and happy. As we’ve mentioned, there’s not a huge difference in your baby’s summer wardrobe to their regular collection clothing items.
The most important thing is you stay vigilant as a parent about how hot your baby is getting and continue to make small adjustments to keep them healthy and happy. This could mean improving ventilation, removing layers, or choosing thin, breathable materials that are more appropriate for warmer temperatures.