Parents’ fears about extreme weather often focus on tornados or blizzards. In fact, extreme heat is the most dangerous extreme weather event for most children. Babies are more vulnerable to heat than adults and older children. Keeping babies safe in hot weather takes some extra attention.
How hot weather affects babies
Babies don’t sweat as much as they will when they’re older, so their bodies can’t regulate temperatures as well. They can overheat easily and they also get dehydrated more easily.
Babies can’t complain about being too hot, either. They may be fussier, but you may figure they’re tired or hungry or sleepy and miss the fact that they’re overheating. Signs of heat exhaustion such as confusion, difficulty walking, or dizziness are hard to spot in an infant.
Babies can also get too hot while they’re sleeping. This can make them sleep more deeply, so they don’t wake and cry. It can also increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Keep baby cool
Arkansas weather can get very hot in the summer. We don’t even have heat advisories till the temperature hits 105 degrees, and that is much too hot for a baby. Stay inside with your air conditioner on if at all possible.
Close curtains or shades in baby’s room when you put your child down for a nap, and dress babies lightly. Safe sleeping for babies always means you should avoid blankets, but it’s especially important in hot weather. As an adult, you may feel that your baby needs a blanket to feel cozy, but you’re projecting your own feelings on your child.
Indoors or out, dress babies in cool cotton clothing in the summertime. Polyester fabrics don’t breathe as well and can make your baby feel hotter. Light colors are cooler to wear in the sun, so choose pale colors for outdoor clothes, no matter what’s fashionable this season.
Speaking of sun
Stay out of the sun during the day. Babies are better off in the shade. If you really want to play in the sun, choose early mornings or late afternoons when the sun is shining less directly on the ground.
Sun protection is important. Use sunscreen on babies over 6 months, and get in the habit of putting a hat on Baby. Start early and you have a better chance of persuading your child to wear a hat in the future, too.
Water inside and out
Hydration makes a big difference to your baby’s safety and comfort in the summer heat. Breastfeed more often and offer water in a bottle or sippy cup. An ice cold soda might sound good, but very cold liquids can cause stomach cramps, and high amounts of sugar can actually cause kids to lose more fluids. Stick with water.
A kiddie pool can be a help in keeping cool. Make sure you set it up in the shade and supervise your baby or small child at all times.
If you’re staying indoors, a lukewarm bath can help kids stay cooler.
If your baby gets overheated
If your baby gets red-faced or has damp hair, you may be seeing signs of overheating. Put your baby in front of a fan or in a cool bath, use a cool wet cloth to reduce body temperature, and give your child water to drink.
Toddlers may still want to run around, but see whether a story or a video will keep your little one still till she cools down.
If your baby is vomiting, has a fever, or seems lethargic after being out in the heat, call your pediatrician.