Now that the weather is getting warmer (thank goodness!), let’s talk about the best way to keep your kids comfortable this summer. Summer is lovely, but it can be difficult with young children. Babies hate being too hot. It also increases the risk of SIDS (https://rednose.com.au/section/safe-sleeping) so keeping your baby cool is very important.
Young babies don’t sleep well when in the heat so it is important to try and keep them and their bedrooms as cool as you can. Dressing them for the hot weather is essential. When it is hot, sleeping your baby in minimal clothing (even if they are still being swaddled) is a good idea. If your baby is sleeping in a sleeping bag, make sure they are in a very lightweight one such as a 0.5 TOG.
Keeping the temperature of the room down by using a fan or air-conditioner is also a good idea. I suggest cooling the room before the baby goes to bed and then you can turn the a/c off or down so they don’t get too cold overnight. If you are using a fan make sure the fan is not blowing directly on the baby.
On very hot days, dehydration can be an issue. Babies can dehydrate quickly. If you are going out for the day make sure you take extra water or milk for your baby. Playing in the park, running around and being in the sun can make young children very thirsty. Make sure you offer them drinks regularly. A toddler who is particularly cranky or distressed after a day in the sun may be dehydrated, so offer lots of fluids as they usually won’t ask for them. It is also important to make sure your baby is having at least 6 to 8 wet nappies a day.
Being out in the sun also means you need sun protection. If you are going to be outside for more than 5 to 10 minutes, you should apply sunscreen. Babies have very sensitive skin, meaning it will burn easily. You also need to put a hat on your child and a protective long sleeve top and try to geth them to play in the shade as much as possible. If you are at the beach, take a beach umbrella or tent to keep them shaded from the sun. The most important thing to remember is to reapply sunscreen regularly!
Finally, please don’t leave young children in the car! This has been in the press a bit lately but it is still happening. Temperatures inside cars rise very quickly and can be as much as 20 degrees more than the outside temperature. Always take your children with you when you get out of the car even if it is just for a quick stop. You just don’t know what might happen or how you might be delayed.
If you are concerned about your baby’s wellbeing after a very hot day, here are some signs of heat stroke/exhaustion:
- Temperature over 39C
- Hot, red, dry skin
- Restless and irritable
- Rapid breathing
If you are concerned about your baby, remove their clothes and try to give them small drinks of breastmilk or water. Try to bring their temperature down by sponging them with cool water. If they still seem unsettled then call 000 and get to the emergency room as soon as possible.
Article by Wattle Health resident expert, Paediatric Nurse, Jo Ryan.