Sunshine may be great for the soul, but it’s even better for kids’ fashion. As threads shift from bulky snowsuits to bright, light playwear, you’ll happily imagine dressing for warm, lazy days at the lakefront.

So you can stock the closet for spring, we got the trend forecast from the owners of some of the city’s best kids’ boutiques. In a nutshell: Nautical is out, neon is still in, and peacocks have unseated owls as the animal of the moment.

The Red Balloon has been keeping Chicago kids fashionable for nearly 15 years. Owner Jennifer Pope says there’s been a change in the go-to animals adorning tot apparel: “The giraffe is the new monkey, and for girls, the peacock is the new owl.” The rise of the peacock goes hand in hand with the emergence of a new color palette, Jennifer says, adding that muted jewel tones, aquas and greens will rule the spring scene. 1940 N. Damen Ave. (773-489-9800) & 5407 N. Clark St. (773-989-8500)

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All that hoofing around the playground means good shoes are a must. Rachel Glasson, owner of Roscoe Village’s Twinkle Twinkle Little One, recommends Native kicks for active boys and girls alike. “Where the Crocs trend ended, Native picked up,” she says. The utilitarian Jefferson slip-on styles come in a variety of colors and are waterproof, odor proof and easy to clean. (Just soak them in hot water.) “People are obsessed with them. They are indestructible,” Rachel asserts. The best news? They’re only $32. 2007 W. Belmont Ave. (773-472-3000)

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The resurgence of 1980s fashion unleashed neon back into the adult marketplace a few years ago, but it has really found its home in kidswear. David Shelist, owner of Oak Street’s Madison and Friends says neon is here to stay for spring, with pants, tops, swimsuits and jeans popping forth in an array of bright shades. Shelist is also excited for the sophisticated new lines coming to his store. For boys, there’s Hugo Boss, featuring sweaters, polos, shorts and jeans sized down from the men’s line. For girls, there’s the London line, Pale Cloud, which includes the most stylish puff-sleeve leather coat to ever ride the school bus. 43 E. Oak St. (312-642-6403)

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Stripes will always have their moment. But at Psycho Baby in Bucktown, they have modern competition: chevrons. “They are this year’s stripes … a nice, clean alternative,” says owner Marlo Hoffman. For littles, chevrons translate to graphic infant hats, leggings, onesies, blankets and gowns — all put out by the Psycho Baby brand. Get them in pink, blue and yellow, with the option to personalize with a child’s name. 1630 N. Damen Ave. (773-772-2815)

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What will you dress your pint-sized fashion plate in this spring?

— Rebecca Little
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Photos: Courtesy of The Red Ballooon Co; courtesy of Twinkle Twinkle Little One; courtesy of Madison and Friends; courtesy of Psychobaby.