While we all pray for nice weather and rejoice when the sun shows its face, sometimes when it is extremely hot in a heatwave it can make your little one quite uncomfortable. To help make these hot sticky days more bearable for you and your little one we have compiled some tips to help keep baby cool but also safe in these extreme temperatures...
Keeping them cool in the day
With heatwaves comes extremely strong sun UV rays. Babies less than 6 months old should be kept completely out of direct sunlight and young children should be kept in the shade as much as possible, especially between 11am and 3pm. Not many people know that infant skin contains very little melanin which provides some sun protection to skin, which is why babies are especially prone to sun damage.
Children under 6 months should not wear sun cream, their skin is too sensitive for the chemicals used in sun cream and it could result in rashes and reactions. For this reason it is best to keep them in the shade completely. Once your little one hits 6 months, you should start protecting them with as high factor sun cream as possible. The British Skin Foundation recommends that children should use a minimum SPF 30 product with UVA protection, but we believe the higher the SPF the better.
If you are heading out or relaxing outside, make sure you bring along something to offer your little one some shade such as a parasol or sunshade. A sunhat is also recommended, preferably one with a wide brim or a long flap at the back, to protect their head and neck. Sunglasses are also important to protect their sensitive eyes.
Just like you need to stay hydrated in the heat, so does your baby. Babies and infants are sensitive to even small amounts of fluid loss so one of the biggest problems during warmer weather is dehydration. Make sure your baby is getting enough fluid, you may have to up the amount you normally give them to counteract any loss of fluid through sweating.
If you're breastfeeding your baby, you don't need to give them water as well as breast milk. Breast milk is actually a good thirst quencher: It’s about 80 percent water and contains the right balance of sugar, salts and minerals to prevent dehydration. You may just need to feed more often.
If you're bottle feeding, as well as their usual milk feeds, you can give your baby a little cooled boiled water, but try to keep this to a minimum and not just before a feed. This is to make sure they don’t fill up on water instead of their milk which has the added nutrients they need for growth and development.
NBS Top Tip – We all love a cuddle during feeding time, but when it is this hot we recommend keeping skin to skin contact a little as possible (sorry mum!) This is because the body heat both of you will be passing to each other can become uncomfortable. One option is to place a muslin swaddle or square between your bodies, so there is less contact. Another option is to lie down and feed, so only your breast or bottle and the baby’s mouth are touching.
Keep it cool
In hot weather even the smallest of activities can feel like a lot of effort and quickly raise body temperatures. This will be no different for your little one. It may feel odd but try to keep play time down to a minimum, it’s best to simply relax and chill when it is extremely hot to help avoid overheating. A paddling pool is a very good idea for keeping babies and children cool. A little bit of water is enough if you have a very young baby and make sure you are supervising them at all times. Throw in some bath toys and they will be happy splashing around for hours, just make sure it is placed in the shade.
The babymoov Aquani playpen is perfect as it is a 3-in-1. It means that your little one can be in the shade with it’s UV protected canopy, it also has raised sides to stop your little mover from crawling here there everywhere. But the real winner for us is you can also fill this one up with water, which means your little one can have a splash about, playing in water safely.
A good way of checking if your baby is getting too hot is to feel the back of their neck, tummy, or back underneath the clothing (babies’ hands and feet are usually cooler than the rest of their body). If it is feeling hot or sticky then consider removing any extra layers they are wearing and you could cool them down with a cloth with cold water on. A tepid bath will also cool down their skin but also their core body temperature to a more suitable level. This is a good thing to do before bedtime to help remove any sticky sweat or hotness before you settle them down for the night.
Dare to bare
One reason babies overheat is because they are overdressed. Go for light, loose organic cotton clothes that offer room to breath. Keep it simple and minimal when it is hot. Or no clothes at all works really well at keeping them as cool as possible, simply a nappy will do if it is really warm. If your child is anything like ours, they will love running around in their birthday suit. In fact, sometimes it is harder to keep their clothes on than off.
Keeping them cool at night
Your baby will sleep most comfortably in a room with a temperature between 16 degrees C and 20 degrees C. But during summer or extreme heat waves, bedroom temperatures can reach the dizzying heights of 28 degrees. So, you may need to take extra steps and precautions to try to make their sleeping environment a little more comfortable for them. It is also important to take these extra steps as babies can’t manage or control their temperature as well as an adult can, nor can they let us know when they are too hot.
Keep checking on them
Because they can’t let you know when they are too hot or help themselves to cool down, it is your job to do this for them. You should check on them regularly throughout the night and daytime naps by touching the back of their neck (babies’ hands and feet are usually cooler than the rest of their body) or with a thermometer to get a more accurate reading.
The temperature throughout the night may fluctuate and you may need to alter their environment or what they are wearing throughout the night. Don’t be afraid to disturb your baby’s sleep if you need to add extra layers or cool them down, keeping them safe is the priority.
What should they wear?
When temperatures get extreme (24+ degrees) it is important not to overdress your baby for bedtime. Really when it is this hot all they need is a thin cotton vest and their nappy. Extra layers mean extra risk of overheating, keep it minimal. Or you could opt for a cool summer muslin sleeping bag. Aden + anais do an amazing range of summer sleeping bags that are designed specifically for when temperatures rocket, we recommend going for as low of a tog as possible.
Also remove any unnecessary bedding to keep them cooler.
Monitor their environment
We recommend buying a room thermometer so each time you check on your little one you can also check the temperature of their room. The babymoov YOO-TRAVEL baby monitor has a built in room thermometer to monitor the temperature of the room as well as allowing you to keep an eye on them from anywhere else in the house with it’s camera function.
Keeping the windows open will make sure a breeze comes into the room, also keep doors and other windows open in the house to create a through breeze. Make sure you keep all the blinds and curtains closed in their room throughout the day to prevent the sun from coming in.
If you have air conditioning set it to around 18-20 degree C to keep the environment the right temperature. A fan in their room will also offer a nice cooler breeze for your little one. Just make sure it is out of their reach so they can’t pull on it or play with it, and not pointed directly at them.
NBS Top Tip – Bottles of frozen water in front of the fan will help to cool the room down quicker.
Nobody knows your child better than you and you will be able to read their reactions to know when they are overheating. They will become frustrated, restless and agitated which will help show you they are getting uncomfortable. Following these easy steps will go a long way in helping to keep your little one cool so you can all enjoy the rare warmer weather we are having.
If you are worried at any point about the temperature of your baby or if you think you are seeing signs of heat exhaustion do seek professional help.