The beautiful hot weather is here and it is the season for picnics and beach trips, Babies and young children can’t cool themselves as well as adults so they’re more at risk of overheating and developing a heat-related illness.
Here are a few top tips to keep baby cool and safe in the New Zealand summer heat.
Sunscreen is not recommended for babies less than six months of age so staying in the shade, clothing and hats are best. During the heat of summer babies skin can burn super easily due to too little melanin, (the pigment that provides some protection from the sun). Keep baby of direct sunlight and use sunhats and light weight clothing to protect babies and toddlers from the summer sun.
Close the curtains or blinds. When the sun begins to hit the windows, close the curtains to reduce the heat coming into the house.
Water play is such a fun way to keep babies and toddlers cool. A water table, sprinkler to run under, shallow paddling pool or even just various cups, bowls filled with water to play with are fantastic.
A cool bath
A tepid bath before bedtime is often beneficial if baby is feeling hot to the touch.
A baby formula sunscreen can be used on babies over 6 months old to protect them from the sun. Pick a broad-spectrum baby safe sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Apply sunscreen generously to your baby’s exposed skin. Reapply every two hours, or more often if your baby is spending time in the water.
While bottle or breastfeeding
It is so hot having baby skin to skin and a cold towel between you and baby can really keep the body temperature down. Placing a cool thin flannel over the back of baby’s head can also help in the heat when feeding.
Babies who are on solids can be served their food cold. Pureed foods like pumpkin, pear and kumara are delicious served at a cooler temperature. For those babies on the finger foods, cold carrot sticks or watermelon straight from the fridge can help them feel cooler in the summer heat.
Try a cooling “Ouchie pack” (similar to a heat pack that is filled with rice, but it is placed in the freezer). Keeping these in rotation when baby is uncomfortable can be a great instant way to cool down baby.
Keep up the fluids
Keeping baby well hydrated can help keep baby comfortable in the heat. Babies over six months of age can be offered small amounts of cooled boiled water too if you think your older baby is becoming dehydrated.
While in the pram
Don’t place any cover or blanket over prams, this can actually over-heat the inside of the pram. even a thin muslin blanket can make conditions inside a pram extremely hot and put your baby at risk. Choose morning or afternoon walks in the pram when the air is cooler or use a large canopy designed for prams to ensure adequate airflow.
Please watch out for these signs of overheating
- Your baby is lethargic or restless.
- They feel warm to the touch.
- They are sweating and have damp hair
- Your baby’s skin is red.
If you think your baby is suffering from the heat – please see a medical professional or call healthline on 0800 611 116
If your baby has severe signs of heatstroke (floppy, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, dry mouth and eyes, high temperature) please call 111 immediately.