Babies and young children can become unwell during very hot weather. Their health can be seriously affected by :
Heat exhaustion and heatstroke
Try these tips for keeping your child healthy and happy in the heat
• Keep your baby cool and protect them from the sun
• Babies less than six months old should be kept out of direct sunlight. Their skin contains too little melanin, which is the pigment that gives skin, hair and eyes their colour and provides some protection from the sun
• Older infants should also be kept out of the sun as much as possible, particularly in the summer and between 11am and 3pm when the sun is at its strongest. If you go out when it’s hot, attach a parasol or sunshade to your baby’s pushchair to keep them out of direct sunlight
• From 6 months old apply a sunscreen with a UVB sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 and with a UVA rating of a minimum four star protection. Many brands produce sunscreen specifically for babies and young children as these use natural rather than chemical sunscreens which are less irritant to the skin. Own brands are just as effective as named brands as long as the SPF and star rating are appropriate
• Apply the sun lotion every couple of hours or more frequently if in and out of water
• Make sure an adequate amount is used and pat it into the skin rather than rubbing it in so it leaves a protective film.
• Make sure your child wears a sunhat with a wide brim or a long flap at the back to protect their head and neck from the sun
• The younger the baby is, the more sensitive their eyes are. This sensitivity stems from the fact that the lens in a baby’s eye is low on protective pigments, meaning that babies absorb a greater amount of radiation from the sun. To counteract this effect, parents should make sure that their babies wear sunglasses when they are outdoors in order to protect their eyes. Sunglasses for babies have a band that fits around the back of the head and secures them in place. Ensure the label states they will protect from 100% UV rays as these are not a fashion accessory.
• Remember that sunshine is a major source of Vitamin D which helps with bone formation and growth. Experts suggest 10 minutes in the early morning or late afternoon sunshine with no sun protection applied is all that is required to give your baby (above 6months) their daily Vitamin D dose. If the baby is bottle fed then formula feeds are supplemented with vitamin D already
Like adults, babies and young children need to drink plenty of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated.
If your breast feeding, baby may want to feed more than usual, you don’t need to give them water as well , as this can fill up their tummy when they really needs milk, and can start to affect your breast milk production if you are regularly replacing milk feeds with water.
Bottle fed babies can have cooled boiled water as well as their usual milk feeds throughout the day.
• A nursery room temperature of 16-20c is recommended and will ensure your baby will sleep most comfortably
• Give the baby a cool bath before bedtime
• Keep your child’s bedroom cool during the day by closing blinds or curtains, and using a fan to circulate the air around the room as long as it is not directly facing the baby.
• Keep nightwear and bedclothes to a minimum. If you’re feeling hot then the baby will be too and they are not yet adept at cooling themselves down as the temperature regulating system in their brain is not mature enough yet and they can become heat stressed
• If your baby kicks off the covers overnight consider putting them in just a nappy with a single well secured sheet which won’t get entangled or cover their face overnight
Have a happy but safe summer !