Babies and toddlers are more prone to becoming sick due to very hot weather. They are more likely to be seriously affected by dehydration, heat stroke, and sunburn than adults are. Luckily, there are many ways to prevent this.
To prevent sunburn, babies less than 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight. This is because their skin contains too little melanin, which would otherwise provide them protection from the sun. Older babies should also be kept out of the sun, particularly during the hottest part of the day between 11am and 3pm. If you need to go out with baby during these hours, it is best to attach a sunshade to the pushchair in order to keep them shaded.
Make sure to use sun cream that is at least 30 SPF and protects against UVA and UVB rays. It is also better to look for sun cream that is specific for children, as it will be more gentle on their skin. Apply sun cream regularly, particularly if your child is in contact with water. Use a sun hat with a wide brim or a long flap at the back to protect them further from the sun.
It is also important to avoid dehydration in babies and toddlers. Babies younger than six months won’t need any water if they are fully breast fed and not eating solid food. However, if they are bottle feeding, you can give them a little cooled boiled water between feeds. If they are waking at night, it is likely that they will want milk rather than water. It is always best to ask your health advisor or any health professionals for baby care advice more tailored to your baby’s needs.
From six months old, baby should be offered sips of water from a cup of beaker with meals. This is not a replacement for breast milk or infant formula; those should be their main drinks during their first year. However, if the weather is hot it is good to offer some additional water outside of mealtimes.
After 12 months of age, baby’s main drinks should consist of water, breast milk, or whole cows’ milk. When it is hot, you can try giving them frozen lollies made from plain water or very diluted fruit juice to keep them hydrated.
Older children can be given plenty of fruit and salad to keep their fluid levels up, as these foods have a high water content. Undiluted fruit juice or smoothies should not be given to children under 5, as these cam cause tooth decay.
When the weather is hot, it is also important to make sure children are kept cool and comfortable. This can be done through any of the following methods:
Playing in a paddling pool. Make sure that the pool is kept in the shade and that the children are always under careful supervision.
Running them a cool bath before bed time.
Keeping their bedroom cool during the day by keeping blinds or curtains closed and using a fan to circulate air in the room.
Keep nightwear and bedclothes to a minimum, particularly if your baby is kicking off the covers during the night. Instead, put them in a nappy with a single, well-secured sheet that will not work loose in the night.
A nursery thermometer to monitor the room temperature; ideal sleeping temperature for babies is between 16C and 20C.