The wrong outfit can ruin your entire day, and no one knows that fact better than a baby – you run the risk of not noticing a stain that didn’t quite come out in the wash as you’re running out the door, but Baby risks not being able to tell the person dressing them that that one sweater is just a little bit too warm for their sense of temperature on this sunny day.
Baby relies on you to make sure they are dressed for the weather in these first few years of their life, and if you guess wrong about the way they feel about the temperature, the best case scenario is that you’re going to have a fussy baby on your hands until you have the chance to go home and change. As a worst-case scenario, exposure to extreme heat or cold can be dangerous for babies’ health. As Baby grows, their social life and activities are growing with them, which can make keeping them dressed for the weather even trickier, as they spend more and more time out of the house.
Clothes to beat the heat
One good rule of thumb for dressing Baby for the weather is that, now that they are out of the very tiniest phase of their life, you can pretty much dress them the way you dress yourself, in terms of temperature. This gets a little more complicated, though, when you remember that heat often comes with sunshine, and Baby’s skin shouldn’t be exposed to direct sunlight when they are this young. When you dress yourself for sunshine and heat, there’s a good chance that, instead of covering every inch of skin, you give yourself a little more room to breathe, and trust sunscreen to protect you.
Baby, though, doesn’t have that option, which is why a breathable cotton sun hat, preferably with an adorably big, floppy brim, is your friend in these situations. It’s also a great excuse for a photo-op – who doesn’t love pictures of a tiny baby in a giant sun hat? If Baby isn’t the hat-wearing type, sometimes a shade on a stroller or carrier, maybe with a light blanket draped across the front, will work as well. This means your little one won’t have the option of getting out of the stroller or carrier to explore, though, so really, if you can convince them to give hats a chance, they’re probably the way to go.
Working from the top down, you can follow similar rules – light fabrics covering as much skin as possible, even in the heat. Since Baby will be wearing so much fabric, it’s especially important that the fabric is light and breathable, and doesn’t trap heat. Light colors, thin woven fabrics instead of knits, and 100% cotton are all great ways to go when picking out long sleeves, long pants, and socks to cover tiny toes on a hot summer day.
Clothes to keep the cold at bay
Dressing Baby for cold weather is tricky because, while you certainly don’t want them to get too cold, you also don’t want to overcompensate too far and leave them overheating. Layers are a great answer to this problem, but having layers you can take off or add to keep your little one at the perfect temperature is only a great solution if you’re paying close enough attention to their cues to add or remove those layers when that’s needed. For this reason, and because it can interfere with the safety of the device, it’s important not to buckle a blanket under the straps of a car seat, carrier, or stroller. A blanket over the straps of a car seat, carrier, or stroller can be a great way to keep Baby warm.
Again, a hat is an important piece of equipment for a temperate outing, both because a lot of heat escapes through the top of the head (and Baby doesn’t have a lot of hair to keep that noggin warm with yet) and because even in cold weather, it can be pretty sunny, so coverage is important. Other key elements for braving the elements include warm socks – and maybe shoes, even if Baby isn’t walking on their own two feet yet – and something to keep their little hands warm. Babies are great at taking off mittens, and often don’t like gloves, but there are a few ways of working around that. Mittens that clip onto jackets are harder to lose, for example, and for babies who absolutely refuse to keep hand-coverings on, a jacket that’s slightly too big, with sleeves that spill out over Baby’s hands can give cold little fingers somewhere to hide. In a pinch, even an extra pair of socks can keep Baby’s hands warm.
In the end, the best way to make sure Baby is dressed for the weather is to dress them in a way that you would feel comfortable – not necessarily the way you would dress yourself, since grown-ups sometimes get into the habit of sacrificing comfort for style, but the way you would dress so that you could be cozy or comfortably cool.
- “Caring for your newborn.” Sutter Health. Sutter Health, 2008. Web.
- “Dressing baby for bed.” Raising Children. Raising Children, Decenber 15 2014. Web.