You've put away their little jeans and jumpers. The shops are full of tempting new summer clothes. Hurrah! It’s time to freshen up our toddlers’ wardrobes for warmer days. But what are the best summer clothes for toddlers? What will you get most wear from? Do toddlers still need vests? What if your toddler hates getting dressed at all??
I was inspired to write this blog by my own experiences with three very independent and active toddlers, including my currently 2 year old twins. Over the years, I’ve bought a lot of nice summer clothes that just didn’t end up being worn or loved as much as I’d have liked. Why not?
The Toddler Summer Clothes Trap
Because I fell into the classic trap of toddler summer clothes. Shopping like I was spending my whole summer on a beach! So many summer clothes marketed for toddlers are simply ... skimpy. Sleeveless, knee-less, lightweight fabrics - ideal for the beach, in fact ... but unless you’ve got way more holidays planned than me, you’re probably going to need a more balanced wardrobe! Clothes that are easy to layer up or down when the weather is less San Tropez and more Scunthorpe.
Of course, summer does generally mean more time outdoors, while your toddler has fun exploring, climbing, and - inevitably - falling over and into all kinds of things. So I also find myself reaching for sturdy, practical clothes that I know won’t tear, catch, or be ruined by a bit (or even a lot) of mud.
With that in mind, here’s my top 5 ideal summer clothes no adventurous toddler should be without:
Dungarees are my go-to for spring and summer. They're just so practical for playing in, keep little knees covered and are quick to put on. I love how the sleeveless design makes it easy to layer with a vest or tee underneath, or a cardi on top if it's cool. Or it can just be worn on its own on a hot day. Roll up the legs for paddling. There's so many cute patterns and designs to choose from - like this exclusive print celebrating summer days in the park and playground.
Unisex options mean my boy/girl twins can share. Tick, tick, tick for me.
Cotton leggings are a brilliant staple for spring/summer in the UK. Lighter and cooler than trousers, easy to layer up under shorts or dresses, or just pair them up with a cute tee when it’s hot. And selfishly, less sun cream to put on = bonus for me.
3. Cotton Tee
I love a statement bright tee or top for my toddlers, especially unusual or unique designs. I mix and match them with trousers & leggings, or layer under a dress or dungarees. It's a great way to get more wear from plain basics, by combining them with a colourful tee.
4. Loose trousers
Harem pants or loose flowing cotton trousers look lovely on, and let their little wearers stay cool and active. Breathable cotton or linen is a must.
We don’t live on the Algarve (booooo). Cooler mornings and evenings mean I never leave the house without a comfy throw-on layer for my twins. I prefer cardigans and jackets to jumpers because they can be left open or just closed on one button if it’s mild. This cream-coloured hooded jacket is light and goes with absolutely everything.
Check out all these gorgeous items and more in our latest collections.
Do toddlers still wear vests?
Personally, I think vests with poppers are useful as long as your toddlers are still in nappies, especially if you use disposables. The vest keeps the nappy from moving around too much, and hides it from view under trousers or skirts. It’s definitely not an essential any more though. My twins aren’t potty trained yet, and wear a mix of vests and tees/ tops. I am more likely to put a vest on under loose clothes like dungarees or a dress.
What if my toddler doesn’t want to wear ANY clothes?
Ah yes. The dreaded Great Clothes Rebellion of 2 year olds. I’m going through this with my little boy right now. He does not want to get dressed. Or he only wants his Gruffalo top (which is too small and too warm). Or he wants his blue top, until I put it on and then he wants his purple one, so I change him and then he screams for the blue top again … aaaaargh!!
If this is your child too, then sympathies. It’s a phase and it WILL end. What helped with us was clearing out the wardrobe of everything unsuitable (due to weather/ size), and letting him choose from what was left. And if he can’t choose, we give him a choice of two options from his usual favourites. If it’s still tantrum central then we just pick something and endure the protests. You can’t win them all.
And, hey, at least it's summer and I'm not going to have to cram him in a coat ...!
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