With the warmer weather this week, remember that it’s important to take special care of babies in hot weather. Babies are less able to adjust to changes in temperature than adults; they sweat less, which reduces their ability to cool down, and that can lead to them overheating and/or becoming dehydrated. Here are some effective ways to keep your baby healthy and comfortable on hot summer days (and nights):
- Breastfeed or bottle feed your baby more frequently than usual. If they are under four months or have not commenced solids, do not give water.
- Avoid taking your baby out during the hottest part of the day.
- Keep babies under six months old out of direct sunlight.
- If you’re taking your baby anywhere by car, use a window shade. Never leave babies alone in a car, even for the briefest amounts of time.
- Dress your baby in light clothing, or even just a nappy.
- When you’re outside, ensure your baby wears a hat with a wide brim or a flap that covers the neck.
- Ensure that your baby spends as much time as possible in an air-conditioned room. Fans are useful for air circulation, but don’t point them directly at your child. Take care that the child can’t touch the fan or pull it into their cot. Don’t let the room get too cold – between 20 and 25°C is cool enough.
- Bathe your child in lukewarm water – don’t use cold water or ice.
Signs that a baby might be dehydrated or overheating include:
- dark yellow or brown urine
- producing fewer wet nappies than usual
- extreme thirst
- irritability, lethargy or confusion
- a body temperature that exceeds the normal range for a baby (36.6 to 37.2°C)
- heavy sweating that suddenly stops
- a rapid heartbeat
- rapid breathing.
Any young infant, especially those that are less than six months of age, who shows signs of dehydration or overheating that is not quickly dealt with by feeding or cooling them down should be seen by a doctor.