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Essential Tips for Keeping Your Baby Cool This Summer

Summer is a wonderful season, but for parents of young babies, it can also bring concerns about how to keep their little ones cool and comfortable. Babies are more susceptible to heat and can overheat quickly, which can lead to serious health issues. To help parents navigate the hotter months, we’ve compiled advice based on recommendations from The Lullaby Trust and the NHS. Here are practical and effective ways to keep your baby cool during the summer.

Understanding the Risks of Overheating

Babies are not as efficient at regulating their body temperature as adults. They can become overheated very quickly, which can lead to dehydration, heat rash, and even more serious conditions such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Overheating is also linked to an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Therefore, it's crucial to take proactive steps to keep your baby cool.

Dressing Your Baby for Hot Weather

Baby sleeping on a blanket

Choosing the right clothing for your baby is a simple yet effective way to help them stay cool. The NHS suggests the following guidelines:

  1. Lightweight Clothing: Dress your baby in loose, lightweight clothes made from natural fibres such as cotton. These materials are breathable and help sweat evaporate, keeping your baby cool.

  2. Minimal Layers: On particularly hot days, a nappy and a loose vest or just a nappy may be enough. Layering should be minimal to prevent overheating.

  3. Sun Protection: If you are going outdoors, keep them in the shade and dress your baby in light clothing and a wide-brimmed hat that covers their head and neck to protect them from the sun.

Keeping Your Home Cool

Creating a cool environment at home is essential for your baby's comfort. Here are some tips from The Lullaby Trust and the NHS:

  1. Ventilation: If it is safe to do so, keep windows open during the cooler parts of the day, such as in the early morning and late evening, to allow fresh air to circulate.

  2. Curtains and Blinds: Close curtains or blinds during the hottest part of the day to block out direct sunlight and keep rooms cooler.

  3. Fans and Air Conditioning: Use fans to help circulate air, but make sure they are not blowing directly on your baby. If you use air conditioning, ensure the room does not become too cold.

Ensuring Adequate Hydration

Hydration is crucial for babies, especially in hot weather. The NHS provides the following advice:

  1. Breastfeeding: If you are breastfeeding, offer more frequent feeds to keep your baby hydrated. Breast milk provides both hydration and nutrition.

  2. Formula Feeding: If your baby is formula-fed, you may need to offer extra feeds. Consult your healthcare provider for specific advice.

  3. Water: For babies over six months, you can offer small sips of cooled, boiled water in addition to their regular feeds.

Staying Cool Outdoors with Baby in Summer

When spending time outside, it’s important to take measures to protect your baby from the heat. Babies under 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight. Their skin does not contain enough melanin to offer them any protection from the sun. The NHS recommends:

  1. Shade: Always keep your baby in the shade. Use a parasol or sunshade on the pram or pushchair. Apply suncream with a minimum factor of 30.

  2. Avoid Peak Sun: Try to avoid being outdoors during the hottest part of the day, typically between 11 am and 3 pm.

  3. Pram Covers: Avoid using blankets, covers or muslin to cover the pram, these can restrict airflow and cause overheating. Instead, use a parasol or sunshade clipped to the pram.

Cooling Techniques

There are several techniques you can use to cool your baby down in addition to removing clothing:

Baby in a bucket outside splashing water
  1. Lukewarm Baths: Give your baby a lukewarm bath to help lower their body temperature. Avoid using cold water, as it can cause your baby to shiver and actually increase their body temperature.

  2. Cool Cloths: Gently wipe your baby with a cool, damp cloth, especially on areas like the neck, wrists, and ankles where the blood vessels are closer to the surface.

  3. Spray Bottles: Use a fine mist spray bottle to lightly spray your baby with water. This can be very refreshing and help cool them down.

Recognising Signs of Overheating

It's important to be able to recognise the signs that your baby might be overheating. Be aware of the following symptoms:

  1. Red, Flushed Skin: Overheating can cause your baby’s skin to become red and flushed.

  2. Rapid Breathing: Fast, shallow breathing can indicate that your baby is too hot.

  3. Irritability: An overheated baby may become unusually irritable or fussy.

  4. Lethargy: If your baby seems unusually tired or lethargic, it could be due to overheating.

  5. Dry Skin: A decrease in wet nappies and dry skin can be signs of dehydration, which often accompanies overheating.

If you notice any of these signs, it's important to act quickly to cool your baby down and seek medical advice if necessary.

Creating a Cool Sleeping Environment

Ensuring your baby’s sleeping environment is cool is essential for their safety and comfort. The Lullaby Trust offers these recommendations:

Smiling baby lying on a white sheet

  1. Room Temperature: Aim to keep the room temperature between 16-20°C. Use a room thermometer to monitor the temperature.

  2. Lightweight Bedding: Limit layers and use lightweight, breathable bedding. If you use a sleeping bag, check the guide to confirm that you are using the correct tog for the room temperature. A single, well secured sheet that cannot be pulled up and over the face during the night may suffice if your baby is kicking off a blanket.

  3. Sleep Clothing: Dress your baby in light sleepwear, such as a vest and a nappy or simply a nappy alone in high temperatures. Avoid using too many layers.

  4. Cool Bath: A lukewarm bath before bedtime can help cool your baby down and prepare them for sleep

To check your baby is not getting too hot, feel the skin on their chest or the back of their neck rather than hands or feet.

Practical Summer Travel Tips

If you are travelling during the summer, these tips can help keep your baby cool:

  1. Car Temperature: Ensure the car is cool before placing your baby inside. Use sunshades on car windows to block out direct sunlight.

  2. Frequent Breaks: Take regular breaks during long journeys to allow your baby to cool down and stretch. If you see your baby slump forward in their seat, stop as soon as it is safe to do so and take them out of the seat, sit them upright before recommencing your journey..

  3. Hydration: Make sure you have plenty of fluids available and offer them to your baby regularly.

Keeping your baby cool during the summer can be worrying and involves a combination of careful planning and attentive care. By dressing them appropriately, maintaining a cool environment, ensuring proper hydration, and using effective cooling techniques, you can help your baby stay comfortable and safe. Always be vigilant for signs of overheating and take immediate action if needed. With these tips from The Lullaby Trust and the NHS, you and your baby can enjoy a happy and safe summer. Stay cool and enjoy the sunshine!

Baby in sunglasses on an inflatable ring


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