20 Best Summer On-The-Go Essentials for Baby
Don't be caught out and about without these handy must-haves for warm weather.
By Rebecca Rakowitz
There is a lot to keep in mind when you are out and about with your little ones this summer. You want to make sure they are cool, protected from the elements, hydrated, fed, entertained, and dry. Luckily, the market is full of baby items that can meet those needs and easily fit in your diaper bag, carry-on, or trunk of your car. We’ve made a baby packing list of everything you need, so your family can comfortably and safely make the most of your summer.
Stroller Fan for Babies
A stroller fan is a must for family travel, near and far. While your newbie is teeny tiny and too curious for their own good, we love this SkipHop stroller fan sans blades. This means you can clip the fan closer to your baby (more breeze, please!) without worrying that if you look away for a second, their little fingers will reach for blades. The adjustable clip attaches to any stroller, and the 3-speed fan comes with a USB charger.
Stroller Fan for Toddlers
More than 25,000 Amazon users agree: This stroller fan has earned five stars. The flexible tripod easily wraps around any stroller, car seat, beach umbrella—wherever you need to keep older babies and toddlers cool on hot summer days. And if the days stretch into dusk, the rechargeable fan also has an LED light to better see your kiddo. Parents can even borrow it from their little ones and strap it around their outdoor or exercise bikes.
Try it: Amacool Stroller Fan
Stash this portable, foldable misting fan in your diaper bag or pocket for whenever your babe is out of their stroller. Thanks to the cover on this battery-operated fan, you don’t have to worry about accidental sprays or leaks. For under $20, it’s a great product to have on hand for extra-hot days when your little one needs more than a simple breeze to cool them down.
Try it: HonHey Handheld Fan Misting Fan
Sure, this is designed for adults in construction, landscaping, or other outdoor jobs, but these adjustable bandanas are also great for toddlers who won’t sit still to cool down. Just soak it in water for two to five minutes, and it will stay cool around your little one’s forehead for up to four hours. It’s perfect for trips to the amusement park, playdates at the playground, sports games, outdoor birthday parties, and anywhere you can have fun in the sun. It can also be used with a tot in a baby carrier to avoid getting too warm.
Try it: Ergodyne Chill Cooling Bandana
If you’ve never heard of Blue Lizard, your mind is about to be blown. The bottle or cap (depending on the product) of this Australian sunscreen changes color in harmful UV light. Not only is it a great reminder to reapply, but it’s a cool trick that just might make your toddler interested in sunscreen. Plus, we love that this chemical-free, mineral sunscreen is better for your baby and better for the environment. As for your babies under 6 months old, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests minimal sunscreen use. Instead, they recommend you keep your babe out of direct sunlight as often as possible.
Try it: Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen
A sunscreen stick gives you better control around your little one’s eyes, and it is also the easiest thing to keep in your diaper bag all summer long. With a stick, you save space, and there’s no need to stress about lotion leaking. It works just as well on any part of your baby’s body, and the wet skin formula means you can effectively apply it on both dry or wet (from the pool or from sweat) skin.
Try it: Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids
Babyganics’ insect repellent is free of DEET and instead uses citronella, peppermint, rosemary, lemongrass, and geranium to keep bugs away from your tot. Per the recommendations of the AAP, insect repellents used on children should contain no more than 30 percent DEET. We hope your family can stay itch-free on your summer outings, but remember that the AAP also recommends that bug spray not be used on children younger than 2 months old.
First Aid Kit
Hopefully, your family doesn’t have to use this, but outdoor fun can sometimes lead to boo-boos. For peace of mind, store this kit in your glove compartment in case your toddler takes a tumble. This affordable bag comes stocked with several dozen bandages and gauze pads, antibiotic and anti-itch ointments, hand sanitizer, instant ice packs, tweezers, swabs, gloves, and more. It even has stickers for when your brave little patient is done getting patched up.
Try it:MediBag Family First Aid Kit
This full-coverage, adjustable hat has it all! It shades your baby’s face, head, and neck while the chin tie holds it in place. The UPF hats block up to 99 percent of harmful UV rays, and the microfiber material and wicking liner keep your baby cool and dry. Plus, if you aren’t convinced yet, the hat comes in 13 solid colors and eight adorable patterns! (Pro tip: This hat can double as a discretion accessory for breastfeeding moms in place of a nursing cover.)
Even little peepers need protection. Cocosand baby sunglasses are a fan favorite with flexible materials that are both soft and sturdy. They will not only shade your child’s eyes on bright days at the playground but also block out harmful UV rays. Plus, the adjustable strap keeps the glasses in place and allows them to grow with your child, fitting most babes 0-24 months.
Really, the best water bottle is the one your child will use! If your toddler prefers something with their favorite character or sipping from yours (sigh), let ‘em have it! The important part is that they stay hydrated. If we had our way, we would tell them to go for the 12-ounce Hydro Flask. The insulated bottle keeps their water cold for hours, and the rubber grip makes it easy for little, sweaty hands to hold. Fill the bottle around four times to meet the AAP recommendation of 8-40 ounces of water per day for children ages 2 to 5.
Try it: Hydro Flask
Ditto about the best cup is what they will use, but we love the Munchkin training cup. Babies can easily drink from any spot along the leak-free top. And at 7 ounces, it’s easy to stash in your diaper bag and easy for your kiddos to get their daily recommended intake.
Try it: Munchkin Miracle 360 Trainer Cup
This backpack is an easy way to transport everything from beach eats to breast milk. The insulated inner compartment keeps refrigerated baby foods cool, and outdoor zipper pockets are perfect for holding plates, utensils, bibs, snacks, pacifiers and teethers, or extra breast milk storage bags that can withstand the heat. Plus, side mesh pockets conveniently hold baby bottles, a Hydroflask, or a Munchkin cup (wink wink). Bonus: If you are able to secure a babysitter and take this bag to a grownup get-together, the strap has a built-in bottle opener. Cheers!
Try it: TOURIT Cooler Backpack
Portable High Chair
Take advantage of outdoor snacking while you can! On mild summer days, you and your little one can easily eat in the backyard or the park with the convenient Pop ‘N Sit. If they ever need to be higher than ground level, simply fasten the seat to an adult chair with the included straps. When you’re ready to pack up, detach the dishwasher-safe tray, fold up the chair like you would a folding camping chair, and store it in the convenient, included bag.
Outdoor Baby Dome
Just because they can’t build sand castles or climb the jungle gym doesn’t mean your child shouldn’t have fun outdoors this summer. This baby dome lets them safely play in an enclosed, padded area. The linkable toys overhead will keep them happy and engaged, and the canopy will keep the sun’s rays and pesky bugs out. The play space folds flat to slide into your trunk, and though the plastic frame is a bit clunkier than other models, you can feel good knowing the dome is sturdy and securely in place.
Outdoor Activity Center
The people at Summer seem to really know what they’re doing when it comes to convenient, easy-to-fold baby essentials. While the big kids run around, your baby can jump and play in place with this indoor/outdoor activity center. The sunshade keeps them protected, while the toys keep them entertained. Adjust the height as baby grows, and toss the seat in the washing machine when it needs cleaning. Just like Summer’s portable booster chair, this activity center comes with a travel bag to make transporting it easy.
Little Unicorn’s multi-purpose blanket is perfect for backyard hangouts, picnics in the park, or road trips to the shore. It’s water-resistant, can be easily wiped off (see ya, sand!), and is machine washable. Plus, we have to give it bonus points for folding into itself and having its own shoulder strap. And while it’s durable enough for outdoor adventures, Little Unicorn’s patterns are cute enough to proudly display during indoor playdates.
Good ol’ reliable terry cloth from good Ol’ Navy. When your small fry emerges from the splash pad, this character towel just might convince them to dry off. Wrap their body in the towel, put the fun hood on their head, and voila! You have a comfy kiddo who will soon be dry from head to toe. (Psst! If your child is too young to care about the character, the non-hooded towels are even more affordable.)
Really, you should have one of these handy year-round (unfortunately diaper leaks can happen during any season), but the Bumkins wet bag is extra useful in the summer when you add pools and sweating into the mix. The bag keeps moisture in, and the snap strap means you can clip it anywhere. This reusable option is also more sustainable and effective than grabbing a plastic bag for bathing suits and a change of clothes before every beach trip. Once you’re done, flip it inside out and throw it (and its contents) in the washing machine.
Try it: Bumkins Waterproof Wet Bag
This wagon is perfect for transporting your kids and all the essentials for your outing (think beach toys, picnic baskets, soccer game snacks, etc.) We loved this Radio Flyer favorite for our Best Strollers list, and we love it even more in warm weather. When you’ve reached your destination, zip the sides down (it’s that “EZ!”) to convert the wagon into a bench. It comes with a storage pouch, lap buckles, and a canopy with UV protection to keep two kiddos shaded and protected. Plus, the fabric sides make it much easier to fold and store than the cumbersome plastic wagons of your youth.