Expert shares tips to keep baby safe during warmer months

With beautiful weather, family vacations and pool days, summer is arguably one of the best times of the year. However, those who have a new baby might wonder whether they can take their little one out in the heat.

To help parents and caregivers safely enjoy their summer with a new baby, we consulted our baby and child expert, Dr. Aimee Ketchum, for sun safety tips. As a pediatric occupational therapist who practices in the neonatal intensive care unit, Ketchum is well aware of the effects of heat on babies and how to keep them safe in the summer heat.

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Everything to know about babies and hot weather

Why babies overheat easier than adults

While it’s no secret that babies overheat easier than adults, many don’t know why. Ketchum explained, “It is simply because babies have more surface area than body mass, so they are susceptible to overheating faster than adults. A baby’s body surface is about three times greater than an adult’s body surface when compared to their weight according to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). It can also be harder for newborn babies to regulate their body temperature, whether hot or cold. Babies also dehydrate faster than adults.”

Indications that a baby is overheating

If you’re ever concerned that your baby is too hot, contact your doctor immediately. Here are a few signs to watch out for:

  • Flushed and sweaty skin
  • Warm to the touch
  • Less wet diapers
  • Extra thirsty
  • Acting tired, lethargic or irritable
  • Shallow breathing

Can babies wear sunscreen?

Every dermatologist, doctor or health professional will preach about the need to wear sunscreen. However, according to the FDA, babies younger than six months should not wear sunscreen, as their skin is sensitive and could develop a rash or other side effects. Instead, opt for clothing with sun protection and keep them out of the sun.

Babies older than six months can use sunscreen after first testing it on a small area of their skin to ensure that there is no reaction. Ketchum said, “Sunscreen should say ‘Broad Spectrum’ on the label so it filters out UVB and UVA rays and should have an SPF between 15 and 50. The ingredient oxybenzone is in some sunscreens and should be avoided for babies because of its hormonal properties. It should be applied on all exposed areas 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors and reapplied every two hours.”

How to keep babies safe in the summer heat

Keep babies hydrated

Offer extra feedings of breast milk or formula to keep your baby hydrated. If they’re older than six months, they can have small amounts of water. However, water should not replace regular feedings.

Keep babies out of direct sunlight

Ketchum advised, “Babies should always be protected from direct sunlight and heat and should be in the shade as much as possible.” Keep babies indoors if it’s too hot outside, and use the stroller shade hood when you’re outdoors. However, babies should never be left alone in a car, even if it’s the only shade source.

Keep babies covered

It’s essential to keep a baby’s skin and face protected from the sun with lightweight clothing and a wide-brim hat.

Keep their bedroom cool

“It is important to keep the bedroom cool. Babies should never have any blankets in their crib with them. If it is very hot, babies can sleep in just a diaper on a moisture-wicking crib sheet,” says Ketchum. You can also put a fan in the baby’s room, but never aim the fan directly at your baby.


Q: Why do babies sometimes get a rash from the heat?

A: Young babies do not have fully formed sweat glands. According to Ketchum, “heat rash occurs because blocked sweat glands cannot clear the sweat.” You can help your baby avoid getting a heat rash by putting them in lightweight clothing, keeping them out of the sun and being mindful not to let them overheat.

Q: How hot does it have to be for babies to overheat?

A: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises keeping babies inside if the heat index is above 90 degrees. Since babies overheat easier than adults, it may be too hot for babies, even if their parents feel fine. However, Ketchum reminds parents, “If you are feeling uncomfortably hot, your baby is definitely feeling the heat.”

What you need to buy to keep babies safe in the heat

Best RuffleButts Long Sleeve One Piece Swimsuit

RuffleButts Long Sleeve One Piece Swimsuit

With long sleeves and UPF 50+ sun protection in the fabric, parents don’t have to worry about harsh UV rays. Thanks to the back zipper and quick change snaps, it’s a breeze to change a baby’s diaper or clothes.

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Best RuggedButts Long Sleeve Rash Guard Swim Shirt

RuggedButts Long Sleeve Rash Guard Swim Shirt

From the beach to the park, this long-sleeve shirt is ideal for hot summer days. It has built-in UPF 50+ sun protection to keep babies safe and comes in a variety of colors and sizes. It’s also fade-resistant and designed in the USA.

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Best Simple Joys by Carter's Assorted Rashguard Set

Simple Joys by Carter’s Toddlers and Baby Boys’ Assorted Rashguard Set

Protect babies and toddlers from the heat with this pack of two pull-on long-sleeve rashguards with no tags to irritate skin. They protect from the sun thanks to the UPF 50+ sun protection and feature quick-drying fabric. Several designs to choose from.

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Best Coolibar UPF 50 Baby LumaLeo 360 Coverage Bodysuit

Coolibar UPF 50+ Baby LumaLeo 360 Coverage Bodysuit

For complete coverage from head to toe, opt for this bodysuit featuring long sleeves, long pants and a hood. The fabric has built-in UPF 50+, which blocks 98% of all UVA and UVB rays. Plus, the zipper closure makes it easy to put on or take off.

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Best I Play Baby Boys' Breathable Pants

I Play Baby Boys’ Breathable Pants

Since it’s lightweight and made of breathable, moisture-wicking material, these pants will keep babies cool while protecting them from the sun. They offer the highest level of sun protection available, blocking up to 99% of harmful UV rays.

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Best I Play By Greet Sprouts Baby Sun Hat

I Play By Greet Sprouts Baby Sun Hat

It’s essential to keep a baby’s face covered at all times, especially during the summer. This hat features a brim and a full coverage flap over the neck, all of which are made with UV protection material.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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