What clothing does my baby need to keep cool?

Date Published: 07/11/2023

It can be hard enough to make decisions about how to dress ourselves when the weather is hot, not to mention the little people in our lives. It’s common for parents to feel uncertain about how best to manage changes in the weather which can make it even more difficult to make the right choices. But it doesn’t need to be too difficult to dress your baby for the hot weather, especially with a few simple tips.

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Did you know?

Babies control their temperature mainly through their face and head.This is one of the reasons why Red Nose recommends babies are settled to sleep on their back with their head and face uncovered.Babies can also be quickly affected by the impact of heat on their body and they’re more at risk than adults of becoming overheated.

10 tips for dressing your baby.

Use your own judgement and be confident you know what’s right for your baby. Check the weather forecast to help you make an informed judgement about how best to dress them.

  • If you’re unsure about how to dress them when going out, take different outfits for changes if the weather cools down.
  • During the summer months, having their arms and legs exposed will help to keep them cool. But it’s important they aren’t exposed to any direct or indirect sunlight if their skin isn’t protected by fabric.
  • Dress your baby is clothing made from cotton/linen/bamboo. Natural fibres help the skin to ‘breathe’.
  • Dress your baby as you would dress yourself for the temperature of the room. Ideally, this is comfortably warm and not too hot, not too cold.
  • When the weather is hot, sometimes just a singlet and nappy is fine, as is a single layer. Remember, what’s important is that your baby is comfortable.
  • Think about what you’re wearing yourself. If you’re in lightweight clothes because it’s warm, then your baby will need to be dressed the same way.
  • Feel your baby’s skin on their back and tummy. It should be comfortably warm, not cold and not hot.
  • If you’re planning to spend some time where there’s air-conditioning, take an extra layer or two for your baby.
  • Choose lightweight clothing which is loose fitting and allows some air-flow between the fabric and your baby’s skin.
  • If you’re going to be in the sun, choose clothing with a high Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 50 or greater. Download the Cancer Council SunSmart App on your phone. Place a broad brimmed hat on their head, keep them in the shade and protect their skin from sunburn.Lightweight, light-coloured clothes are a good choice.

Other hot weather tips

Check your baby frequently when the weather is hot. Stay in cool areas and do what you can to stop them from overheating.

  1. Offer your breastfed baby extra feeds when the weather is hot. If your baby is formula feeding, some extra cooled boiled water can help to boost hydration.
  2. Use air-conditioning and fans to keep the temperature down. The best temperature setting in Australia is around 23 - 24 degrees Celsius.
  3. Block out the sun coming into the house by using blinds, curtains, shades and awnings.
  4. Stay out of the sun between 10 am – 4 pm and keep in the shade if you must go out. Avoid using sunscreen on your baby if they’re aged less than 6 months.
  5. Give your baby tepid or cool baths, especially before they settle for sleeps. Through the day, wipe a cool wet washer over their arms and legs if they’re hot.
  6. Change your baby’s cot sheets frequently.Just as adults appreciate fresh, clean sheets, babies do as well, especially if they’re prone to vomiting.

Written for babyU by Jane Barry, Midwife and Child Health Nurse, September 2023.