Hello Sunshine! How to Protect Babies From Sun and Heat

sun protection baby

There are a million adorable summer clothing options for your baby, but as the sun comes out and temperatures rise, what are the best options for dressing your baby to protect them from overheating and overexposure to sun?

Let’s start with what the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) says:

Because of their unique physiology, children are more susceptible to temperature extremes and their health effects. Children are less able to regulate “their body temperature compared with adults. As a result, children are more likely to develop significant health effects when they are exposed to environmental temperature extremes. These temperature extremes result from natural or manmade causes. Natural causes include heat waves, unseasonably cold weather, and winter storms. Manmade events can result from inadequate home heating or cooling, extended exposure to temperature extremes without proper gear, and overheated environments, including automobiles.


Keeping your baby safe from overheating and harmful summer sun begins with the answers to these 6 questions:

1.   How should I dress my baby on a summer day?

When it’s hot out, think about what makes you feel comfortable: bare feet, loose cotton clothing, light colors. So a basic onesie or something cottony and light are the go-to clothes for your baby, just as they are for you.

Now think about going into an air-conditioned store or home and the shock you may feel as you enter the cold space. Layer, layer, layer!

When it’s hot outside but the A/C is on inside, dress or undress your baby as needed to adjust to the temperature change. I like to start with a diaper and a onesie (we love onesies!) They are not only functional, but can be super adorable when worn by themselves. They are usually made of a cotton blend so are breathable while still providing coverage. My recommendation is to ALWAYS pack a lightweight blanket (like the gauze ones found on our Baby Essentials List), a lightweight pair of leggings or pants and a long-sleeved shirt or sweatshirt to use when going into air-conditioned spaces.

2.   Does my baby need a hat?

Simply stated, YES. While outside, whether in direct sunlight or shade, make sure your baby is wearing a hat. So many baby hats now have a UPV (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) 50 rating, a must for protecting skin from harmful exposure (for babies AND adults). When babies wear hats on a regular basis, they often become accustomed to them, which makes your life easier in the long run.

3.   We’re getting in the pool, what should my baby wear?

If your baby is going to be in the pool or any other body of water, wearing a rash guard can offer extra protection. Water reflects sun causing MORE exposure to sun damaging rays. With that in mind, that hat we mentioned in #2 is crucial in the pool as well. Add a swim diaper and your baby is ready to cool off with you and have some fun in the sun. I love all the UPF 50 options found at Primary.com.

4.   Should my baby wear sunglasses?

Yes! When babies wear 100% UV blocking sunglasses (not just the little cheapy ones that look cute) and a brimmed hat (here’s that hat again), you are protecting your baby’s eyes from immediate harm AND damage from cumulative exposure . And a baby in sunglasses….so cute!

5.   When it’s hot, what should my baby sleep in?

If your home or baby’s sleep space is not air conditioned and temperature regulated, a onesie (seriously a MUST for baby wardrobes) is a great go-to. It offers a bit of coverage and comfort, yet is breathable and lightweight.

If your home is temperature regulated,, dress your baby in their lightweight footed Sleep & Plays (as seen on our Baby Essentials List) and swaddle (if age/developmentally appropriate) in a gauze swaddle blanket. In this instance, bedtime clothing is not seasonal as your home stays the same temperature year round.

6.   Can I use sunscreen on my baby?

YES! The AAP has updated their guidelines regarding sunscreen for babies under 6 months old. Although shade and proper clothing are always the number one choice, they state:

When adequate clothing and shade are not available, parents can apply a minimal amount of sunscreen with at least 15 SPF (sun protection factor) on infants under 6 months to small areas, such as the infant’s face and the back of the hands. Remember it takes 30 minutes to be effective.“

Now you’re ready to enjoy the summer sun (and heat) with your baby!

Print your Baby Essentials Checklist HERE

Family Tree Doula Services is a postpartum doula agency serving Portland, Oregon and the surrounding area. Our team of professional postpartum doulas provides in-home, daytime and overnight care for babies and parents. We provide care to birthing, adoptive and intended parents alike. Our postpartum doulas offer families unbiased, non-judgmentalI emotional, physical and educational support from the time a baby is born through their first year. Owner and Certified Postpartum Doula, Sheryl Cooksley, takes pride in providing exceptional customer service and a warm, friendly, “outside-of-the-box” approach to caring for Portland area families.

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