Babies and young children can become ill during very hot weather and could suffer from dehydration, sunstoke or heat exhaustion. Babies’ sleep can sometimes be disturbed if they are too hot and need extra hydration.
Try these tips for keeping your child happy and healthy in the heat.
Keep your baby cool and protect them from the sun.
Babies less than six months old should be kept out of direct sunlight. Their skin contains too little melanin, which is the pigment that gives skin, hair and eyes their colour and provides some protection from the sun
Older infants should also be kept out of the sun as much as possible, particularly in the summer and between 11am and 3pm when the sun is at its strongest. If you go out when it’s hot, attach a parasol or sunshade to your baby’s pushchair to keep them out of direct sunlight.
Apply a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 to your baby’s skin. Make sure the product also protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Apply the suncream regularly, particularly if your child is in and out of the sea or paddling pool. Make sure your child wears a sunhat with a wide brim or a long flap at the back, to protect their head and neck from the sun.
Like adults, babies and young children need to drink plenty of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated.
Never drape a cover over the pram hood as this will create an intensive heat inside the pram.
If you’re breastfeeding your baby, you don’t need to give them water as well as breast milk. In hot weather your baby may want to feed more than usual so they are able to keep themselves hydrated. If you’re bottle feeding, offer your baby cooled boiled water throughout the day. If your baby wakes at night, they’ll probably want milk. If they’ve had their usual milk feeds, try cooled boiled water as well.
If they’re over six months old and they get bored with water, try giving them a combination of very diluted fruit juice, ice cubes and homemade fruit juice lollies throughout the day. For older children, plenty of fruit, yogurts mixed with fruit and salad will also help keep their fluid levels up.
Keeping cool and at night
Ensure your baby’s room is kept cool in the day by shutting their blinds to keep the heat out. The curtains or blinds should be a black out material so that your baby is not woken up to the early morning light.
Run a cool bath before bed and dress in minimal clothes e.g. a short sleeve vest or a light top. Keep blankets to a minimum and use a well fitted sheet if 26 degrees or more. Ventilate the room well and have a fan in the room to cool the room down. Place a bowl of ice water in front of your fan to help circulate the cooler air.
A nursery thermometer will help you monitor the temperature of your baby’s room. Your baby will sleep most comfortably when their room is between 16C (61F) and 20C (68F). Offer water or milk if your baby wakes up and appears thirsty.