Summer in Italy with a baby or toddler: how to deal with the heat

sperlonga italy with baby and stroller

How to deal with the heat when traveling to Italy in summer with a baby or young child.

Summer in Italy is hot, sometimes unbearably so.

The months of July and August see temperatures that easily go above 38/40C – 100/104F in cities and low areas and and the last couple of years have seen Sicily literally burning up, because of the relentless sun.

Such heat must never be underestimated and especially with a baby it calls for extra precautions.

Here are some ideas on how to fend off the heat if you are planning to spend the summer in Italy with baby.

You can see details on what to expect each month in different localities in the articles below:

Disclaimer. Please note: I am not a doctor nor a health professional. These are parent-to-parent suggestions: alway speak to a professional before travelling, especially if to an unfamiliar climate.

Good to know! You can find more tips for visiting Italy with a baby here

Summer in Italy with baby: tips from a mum

1. Avoid the sun

I know you have probably chosen Italy because you want a family vacation in the sun but you need to respect our closest star and its power as in Italy, it can harm you.

Stay out of the sun at least during the hottest hours of the day, between 11 am and 5 pm.

Venture out early morning, late afternoon and evening: this is what Italians do and you might be surprised to see how many parents with prams and buggies are out well after what might be considered baby’s bedtime.

This applies also to toddlers and playgrounds, especially in holiday destinations, are a popular evening hang-out for families.

If heading to the beach, make use of Italian beach clubs so you can have umbrellas, loungers, access to water and food, showers to cool down in between swims etc.

2. Seek the right kind of shade

Without children a restaurant patio under vine branches might sound like the perfect refuge: with a baby, you might need more.

Trees and plants provide shade but often do not filter out all sun rays and might give you a false sense of security.

Make sure an area you feel protected from the sun actually is sheltered from its rays and choose indoors, air conditioned spaces if in doubt. Places with indoor and outdoor options give a choice at the time of booking: during the day, indoors with A/C is often the best solution.

3. Use mechanical sun protection as well as baby sunscreen

Baby skin is very delicate and it needs protection from the sun in the form of shade and baby sunscreen.

We find the safest way to do it is use baby sunscreen (bring from home or buy in a local supermarket or pharmacy, there are plenty of options) and also go for mechanical means such as stroller canopy / umbrella / kids rash vest.

If opting or a rah vest, invest in a good quality one that allows perspiration and cooling down.

4. Use lotions carefully

Oils and lotions might prevent perspiration and, in the sun, can even cause burns if not properly absorbed before exposure.

Use them with caution and leave time between lotion and time in the sun.

5. Choose the right clothes and accessories

Choose natural fiber, loose fitting clothes that allow healthy perspiration and check often.

Touch your baby’s skin to check the temperature, change clothes often especially if they get soaked in sweat and, within reason, take nappies off if you can for at least part of the day (this can be done even just with prolonged changing sessions).

If you are planning on baby wearing, consider a summer carrier /water baby carrier made or breathable mash: they go a long way to keep you and baby cool and they are perfect to get into the sea!

Make sure baby always wears a sun hat and sunglasses. You can find our recommended packing list for summer in Italy here.

To have a safe summer in Italy with baby, make sure you have sun hat and sunglasses for them
This is my daughter in her summer outfit, before she decided she is not a girlie girl!!

6. Use a stroller and soft cover

I am very much ‘team stroller’ when it comes to Italy. While some areas will force you to fold and lift the pushchair because of steps etc, the extensive walking and the heat make a stroller a great thing to have – a carrier, even a summer on, can get VERY hot for you and your child so having options is best!

Check the material of the stroller seat to make sure it allows perspiration and it is not too plasticky/ sticky. If it is, we found using a microfibre travel towel between baby and seat an easy way to make the contact with the skin more pleasant.

You can find my favorite travel strollers for Europe and favorite lightweight double strollers for travel here.

7. Keep them hydrated

In hot weather children might be less hungry but make sure they get their fluids in.

If you are breastfeeding, this might mean very long sessions with your baby.

The good news is that I found Italy, overall,  very accepting of breastfeeding so you don’t necessarily have to retire to your room to do it.

If you are formula feeding, you can stock up in supermarkets or, sometimes, in pharmacies.

In Italy many baby products are sold at the chemist rather than the general store, so check both.

Good to know: you can find all our best tips for planning a family trip to Italy here.

If your baby is on solid, offer fresh food as much as possible and offer snacks of fruit and vegetables if baby accepts them.

Careful if offering gelato: Italian artisan gelato often contains eggs (especially for some of the flavours), something to be aware of if you haven’t introduced them yet.

If interested in the difference between gelato and ice-cream, I have information here)

My daughter enjoying her fresh juice trying to keep cool in the summer heat
Juice break! In this photo my daughter was a little over one: juices can help with hydration but they are full of sugar so make sure you use them in moderation and dilute them with water

8. Double-check air conditioning

Do not take air conditioning for granted.

Its use it is not as widespread and even hotels with air-conditioned rooms might have it at a setting that you might perceive as not cold enough.

I am making this point especially for my American friends:  every time I go to the US I catch as cold as I feel American air-conditioned places as freezing (this is the running joke with my husband, who grew up Ireland and has a very different perception of heat!).

Looking at it from the other side, I know Italy’s air-con can be perceived as inefficient.

My advice for this is to ask your hotel (or apartments) to confirm what cooling system they have and that you will have full control of its functioning.

Be very cautious with air conditioning and baby and always follow safety guidelines for safe room temperature and cot positioning.

9. Use shutters

Italian buildings usually have shutters and they are a life saver in the summer.

When you leave your house or hotel room, to make sure it doesn’t become a super hot greenhouse, do like the Italians: close the persiane (shutters) but leave the glass windows open.

This way the house, upon your return, will be well aired without having been exposed to the sun.

10. Escape to the beach

If at all possible, escape Italian cities in the summer and do like the locals: go to the beach or the mountains! 

With kilometers of coastline, most cities are sufficiently close to the sea to allow for easy escapes or even just day trips.

Summer in Italy with baby is best enjoyed away from the city! 

If you cannot take the heat at all, go to the Dolomites: they are high mountains and wonderful in summer!

If you want to escape the heat of Florence, try go to the hills around it or head to the beach: there are many family friendly places in Tuscany perfect to escapes the hottest weather

From Rome, consider the coast (Sperlonga is lovely), the lakes (Martignano, Bracciano) or head South to the Amalfi Coast.

From Milan, head towards lake Como or even Cinque Terre.

Just make sure you pack for it: you can find our recommended beach vacation family packing list here.

11. Choose activities carefully

Before deciding on your activity for the day, make sure it will not force you and baby to endure crazy high temperatures.

Archaeological sites tend to get very hot (avoid Pompeii in the middle of the day in summer!) and with little shade and museums do not always have air conditioning – check each time.

12. Ask your doctor

Ask your doctors for medications and remedies should your baby not react well to the heat. The American Academy of Pediatrics or the NHS website (UK) can provide information but nothing can replace professional personalised advice!

I hope you found this useful! Safe travel planning!

This post was originally written in 2016 and has now been fully updated (2023)

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5 thoughts on “Summer in Italy with a baby or toddler: how to deal with the heat

    • Marta says:

      Thanks for the tip! I’ve never been to the catacombs in the summer and I was worried they might get hot, but if they don’t, they are a great place – a very interesting piece of history.

  1. Christina says:

    Yes, I was so surprised how hot in can get in Europe during the summer. We were in Italy during August and it was almost unbearable walking around especially since the tourists sites are so crowded and the lines to get into the sites very long. Good tips for traveling with babies in hot weather. We also always bring along a spare sunhat. It is very hard to find a small sized hat and they are easy to lose especially with baby wanting to take it off all the time.

    • Marta - Learningescapes says:

      That’s a good tip Christina: anything not glued to your child is likely to get lost! August can be terrible in Italian cities: hot, humid and many things shut down unless you’re on the coast or popular holiday spots

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