As temperatures rise, even the best of us can succumb to the heat. Young bubs can't always regulate their temperature effectively though, and they don't have the ability to change themselves or their environment to be more comfortable, so as parents, we need to watch our little ones and help them stay cool when they start showing signs of overheating.
Why is safety an issue with keeping my baby cool?
Babies are far more sensitive to external stressors than adults. One of these is the sensitivity babies have to temperature changes – babies simply don’t have the same capabilities as adults to regulate their body temperature.
Not only do babies lose body heat rapidly in the cold, but they can also overheat just as fast. This shouldn’t be a cause for worry or concern, rather something to keep mindful of in extremes of temperature – especially heat.
What should I avoid?
- Avoid giving water to a baby under 6 months of age. Not only does this reduce their appetite for breast milk (their sole nutrition source) but it can also lead to acute health issues associated with water intoxication.
- Don’t crank the air conditioning. This tends to dry the air, which can in turn dry your baby’s skin and also lead to respiratory irritation.
- Try not to expose your baby to ice packs, cold water baths or even cold water wipes. These can send a nasty shock to your baby’s system.
- Avoid travelling – especially in the car – during the middle of the day when the sun is at its hottest, and always avoid direct sunlight during these hours on your baby’s sensitive skin.
What can I do?
- Use a cool mist humidifier to disperse moisture into the air. To reduce the risk of moisture build-up and mould growth, make sure to use it in a well-ventilated space (or a room with at least two openings) and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- A good setting for climate control or air conditioning is 24 degrees, but avoid keeping it on relentlessly overnight. Timers are useful for this.
- Try a tepid bath or wipes dipped in tepid water. The evaporation from your baby’s skin will help gently draw body heat away.
- Make use of a ceiling or stand fan. These are super effective in addition to tepid water wipes, but be careful not to place your baby directly in the fan’s path. It will be enough that the room’s air is circulating.
- At bedtime, dress your baby as you might dress yourself (except for the nappy!). Swap a singlet for a onesie, and take advantage of a light mesh swaddler or sheet.
When everyone is hot and bothered, tempers can start to fray, and you might find your little one getting irritable and grumpy. Be prepared for the temperatures to rise and have your plan of action ready to go.
Heading outdoors? Make sure to check out our article on sun safety for babies.