Staying cool during the summer isn’t just a desire for babies, it’s a necessity. Babies who become overheated can suffer terrible consequences, ranging from heat exhaustion to heatstroke. While babies can’t exactly tell you when they are hot, there are signs that can indicate your baby is overheating. Some signs that indicate overheating include your baby being extremely thirsty, tired, and having skin that is cool and moist.
Overheating is one of the leading causes of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) according to the National Sleep Foundation. When babies are too warm they sleep deeper, which can lead to trouble. For this reason, it’s important not to overdress your baby for sleep. When she is sleeping in her crib and there is no air conditioning in her room, putting her in a onesie or a pair of light pajamas is best. You’ll also want to have a fan running in her room to circulate the air, but make sure that the fan isn’t blowing directly on her. To cool the air that the fan is blowing you can put a pan of ice water in front of it.
A good rule of thumb is to dress your baby like you are comfortably dressed, plus one layer. If you are comfortable wearing shorts and a T-shirt then put her in that as well, plus a onesie underneath. If you’re burning up and have a pair of shorts on, leaving your baby just in her diaper may be appropriate. Try to avoid synthetic fabrics when dressing her as they tend to trap the heat and moisture in instead of allowing her skin to breathe.
If you are going to be going outside with your baby then dress her in lightweight cotton long pants, long sleeves, and a floppy hat. Keep her in the shade and preferably somewhere she can feel a breeze. It’s better to keep her skin covered than to use sunscreen on a very young infant. If you must use sunscreen, apply it conservatively and only to the areas of skin that are exposed. You’ll also want to avoid being outside between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m because the sun’s rays are the most damaging during these times.
On hot days holding your baby can cause her to become too hot. Your body is warm against hers and she can overheat from being held close to you. If you must use a baby carrier, make sure it’s a lightweight nylon or mesh one and not something heavy like denim. You want to use breathable fabrics wherever possible.
It’s also essential to keep babies hydrated when it’s hot outside. Babies sweat too, and in warmer weather you need to make sure that you are giving her plenty of fluids. Infants over six months of age can be given water to help keep them hydrated.
Water play can be a good option for those babies that are able to sit up on their own. Never leave your baby unattended during water play or a bath. Babies love to splash in the water. Taking her to a covered baby pool will also help to keep her cool. If these things are not an option, putting a cool wash cloth on your baby from time to time throughout the day will help keep her cool.
If it just seems too hot both in your home and outside and you fear that your baby is too warm it’s a good idea to go hang out in a public place with air conditioning. The library or the mall can offer convenient, cool choices.
If you feel like your baby is becoming sick from the heat, contact her healthcare provider. Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are serious conditions that warrant medical attention.