After a wet and rainy start to the year, it looks like summer is on its way with warm spells hitting the UK for the bank holiday! But the big issue for new parents is how do I look after my baby in this heat? For a little baby who struggles to regulate their body temperature, the 25 °C heat can increase the chance of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Sleep temperature is a safety issue, as when babies are hot, they fall into a deeper sleep and have a harder time arousing, increasing the risk of SIDS. The hot weather also affects their comfort, increasing the chances of them pulling an all-nighter.
While babies won’t show sweat dripping down your baby’s face, they can still be dehydrating quickly. A flushed face, unusually hot cheeks, rapid breathing, and irritation can be signs of dehydration. Babies are likely to drink about 50 percent more than usual in the summer, so make sure your newborn is having as many wet nappies as usual!
If you are breastfeeding your baby, then they do not need any water until they have started eating solids. They may want to breastfeed more often during the day to make up for any lost water. If you are bottle-feeding your baby, then you can give them a little cooled boiled water. This is as well as their main meals which should still be water. You can offer babies sips of water from a beaker if you have started to introduce solid foods. Breastmilk or formula should still be their main drink, but in hot weather, this can also include water.
When it comes to babies, those under 6 months need to be kept out of sunlight. Their fragile little skin doesn’t contain much melanin and needs sun protection. A lot of sun creams are unsuitable for their delicate skin, but there is now a range especially for babies that don’t contain irritating fragrances.
Babies who are older than 6 months should also be kept out of the sun, particularly between 10 am and 3 pm when the sun is at its strongest. Make sure to apply a sun cream of at least 30 SPF liberally onto your baby’s skin, reapplying regularly. Also, make sure your child wears a sun hat with a wide brim to help ensure they don’t burn their necks and heads which are some of the more painful areas for little babies. Remember to apply sun cream under clothing too as the average cotton t-shirt only has an SPF of 5!
As babies can’t sweat, it makes going outside harder for them as they haven’t yet developed the body’s natural cooling mechanism. This means that they suffer from heatstroke much quicker than most adults or older children.
Paddling pools are lifesavers in this hot weather. They keep little ones cool, but just make sure that the pool is in the shade during really hot weather and be in charge of them at all times. If you don’t have a paddling pool, then a cool bath is also advisable.
By keeping curtains closed during the day, bedrooms will not heat up and will keep at a cooler temperature. Also, nightclothes should be a minimum in these higher heats. A nappy and well-secured sheet will do just fine. Babies sleep best between 16 – 20°c so try to keep their room around this temperature.