Katie Hilton (Bsc, Msc) – Registered Midwife & Health Visitor
The mercury is rising and your usually happy baby is unsettled in the hot weather, we asked our expert in house Midwife Katie Hilton for her top tips for keeping your baby cool in the hot weather.
Whether spending time inside or in the great outdoors, summer can be a tricky season for keeping your baby safe and comfortable. Overdress your baby and they could develop an angry heat rash; expose their fragile body to hot conditions and they could become vulnerable to sunburn or heatstroke. Overheating a baby has also been linked to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). So it’s important to ensure your little one stays cool and protected during long, hot summer days.
If you’re planning on being indoors, dress your baby in loose fitting, lightweight clothing, preferably made from cotton, which absorbs perspiration much better than other materials. A good rule of thumb is to dress your baby the way you’re dressed. If you are wearing shorts and a T-shirt that will be fine for your baby also. When outdoors put your baby in thin trousers or leggings and a lightweight long sleeved shirt and finally add a wide brimmed hat to shield the face. Resist the temptation to leave them exposed on a cloudy day as harmful rays can still penetrate through the clouds.
Babies don’t perspire effectively, so they can overheat far more quickly than an adult. This is why you should never leave a baby in a hot room or a car. Even just a few minutes could cause your baby’s temperature to spike and prove potentially life-threatening, so always provide good ventilation.
If opting to use a baby carrier during the summer months select one which is lightweight and nylon rather than made from a heavier fabric. The combination of your body heat and the confining space of a baby carrier can make your baby hot and bothered. If your baby’s face starts to look flushed then remove him from the carrier and allow them to cool down. Even better use an airy summer stroller with an attached sunshade to provide extra shade from the suns rays. iCandy have the universal parasols and the shade which can offer protection during the summer months.
Even if you don’t see beads of sweat on your baby’s forehead, they can still be losing fluids in hot weather so it is important to keep them hydrated. If your baby has a flushed face, skin which is warm, rapid breathing and is restless then they may be dehydrated. Babies under 6 months of age shouldn’t be given water and babies over 6 months can have modest amounts. Keep younger babies hydrated by giving extra formula or breastfeeding more frequently. During warmer weather babies should drink at least 50% more than usual.
The worst time to be outdoors is between the hours of 10am and 2pm, this is when the sun is at its strongest and most likely to harm the skin. If you plan on being outdoors then try to schedule it for outside of these hours, otherwise seek out shade. Look for a protected spot under a tree or use an umbrella to provide protection.
Babies under 6 months of age have thin, delicate skin so they should always be kept out of direct sunlight, however there will of course be times when that is impractical so it will be important to ensure your baby is wearing sunscreen. For babies under 6 months of age apply a minimal amount to the exposed skin including the face. For a baby older than 6 months use more liberally and more often and reapply every 2 hours. Choose a waterproof sunscreen with a high SPF.