Here I am sat on a deck chair under a tree, straw hat on (still half squashed from being under a suitcase at the back of the wardrobe), and fanning myself with an empty porridge cereal box. I am mightily thankful no one but my three girls can see me now, as they’re far from old enough to be embarrassed by me yet.
It’s hard enough to figure out what clothes to wear to keep myself cool whilst not looking like I’ve just been for a roll in the laundry. My children, however, are usually better turned out than I am. This is because when I buy their summer clothes, I gave them much more consideration than I when I buy my own!
Dressing kids (especially babies) for the heat of summer or holidays doesn’t have to be a minefield. Stick to some basic principles like the ones below, and you should be fine!
Use natural materials
In the heat especially, natural materials are much better to dress in than clothing made from man-made fibres. There are several reasons for this.
As a rule, natural material is more breathable. Cotton, linen, silk and muslin or cheesecloth style materials are some of the best fabrics for summer. This is because they don’t trap body heat and also allow air to pass through the material, cooling you down.
Prevent sweat build up
Natural materials work to wick moisture away from the skin, as sweat will absorb into the fabric which in turn allows it to evaporate into the air. If fabrics aren’t breathable, you will often find if you get hot, you’ll be left with a slick of sweat underneath the fabric that just sits on your skin with nowhere to go.
Merino wool especially, or other fine wool like cashmere is a great choice for baby and child cover-ups like cardigans because although they keep you warm, they also allow the skin to breathe, wick away moisture and also work to keep you cool too!
They last longer
Clothes made from natural fibres are usually stronger and hardier. The fibres can survive more washes and wear and tear which makes them a much better choice for kids.
Kid’s clothes need washing, A LOT! Unfortunately every time we wash man-made clothing, small fibres break off which end up in rivers and the sea. In fact, according to the report in the Guardian, 40% of fibres washed into our water treatment plants end up escaping into rivers, lakes and oceans.
Choose loose clothing
Looser clothing allows for heat to escape from the body more easily, also, it allows for more room as our bodies expand when they are warm. Choose loose dresses and baggy shorts and short sleeves over more fitted trousers or tops. A nice welcome breeze floating in under a baggy outfit on a hot day could be the difference between a screaming toddler and a very grumpy one!
Always have a sun hat handy
Babies’ heads are usually pretty bald for a long time after they’re born! Their delicate scalps and eyes need protecting from the sun and as well as sun cream, a nice sun hat will work nicely! Don’t choose a hat that’s tight; just make sure it’s comfortable and not too loose that it keeps slipping off.
There are all kinds of kid’s hats, from the traditional floppy cotton ones to peaked caps. Pick one that covers the tops of their ears and the back of their neck for extra protection.
Having your feet encased in tight sweaty socks and shoes would be frustrating for an adult and probably more so for a child who can’t take off their own shoes. Keep little toes cool by opting for open toe sandals that allow feet to breathe.
Go nappy free
Of course I don’t mean all the time, but if you can keep your baby nappy free as much as possible (or as is practically possible) this will help to cool them down. If you’re at the beach and you know your baby isn’t due a poo any time soon (have something to clean it up just in case!) or if you’re at home or in your garden, some nappy free time will be a very nice novelty for baby if it’s hot!