Summer heat has arrived which means hydration, proper clothing, shade, and sunscreen are now becoming essential. Babies are very sensitive when it comes to heat, and as a result, are susceptible to high body temperature which can be life-threatening! Dehydration, heat rash, heat exhaustion, and ultimately heat stroke are dangers for your baby that you need to be aware of as the temperatures rise during these summer months; however, the following tips will help you prevent those from occurring.
When you are hot and thirsty, you can get up and get something cool to drink…your baby cannot, so it is up to you to keep him/her properly hydrated on a regular basis, and even more so, on a hot day. If you feed your baby formula, you need to give him/her some extra formula or small amounts of cool boiled water to quench their thirst and keep them properly hydrated. If you breastfeed your baby, they will do fine without water, even in hot, steamy weather. Believe it or not, breastfeeding is the best way to prevent dehydration in your infant. Today’s Parent states your breast milk is made up of 80% water and contains all the right levels of sugars, salt, and minerals to prevent dehydration and keep them properly hydrated. A few signs of dehydration to look out for would include
- dry mouth or tongue
- less wet diapers a day
- dark yellow or smelly pee
- flushed face
- eyes and soft spot appear sunken
If you think your baby is dehydrated and is showing any of these signs, call your doctor immediately because your babies’ core temperature can rise rapidly which puts them at an increased risk for heat exhaustion, and even worse, heat stroke!
Effective ways you can keep your baby cool include:
- Dressing your baby in light clothing like a onesie, t – shirt, or just a diaper
- Regularly wiping down your baby with a luke warm cloth to prevent heat rash from sweating
- Applying baby powder after wipe downs aids in keeping your baby cool and dry
- Having your baby sleep in the coolest part of the house on the hottest days
- If you don’t have air-conditioning, using a fan to help circulate the air (Do not point it directly at your baby)
- Avoiding travel when it is hot (If travel is necessary, do it early in the day)
- Keeping your baby away from direct sunlight
- If it is really hot and humid out, avoiding going outside altogether…that’s best for you and your baby.
- It is extremely crucial to never under any circumstances leave your baby in a car alone. Even if the air conditioning is on in the car, safecar.gov says very clearly to never leave them alone in a car.
Heat Exhaustion and Heatstroke
Heat exhaustion is a result of your body overheating from exposure to high temperature combined with high humidity and lots of physical activity. Even if your little one isn’t walking around yet, they will still be sweating and losing water in these conditions which will cause dehydration and high body temperature. Baby Center states if your baby is showing signs of heat exhaustion but it hasn’t progressed to heat stroke, bring him/her indoors — to an air conditioned room, if possible. Give him plenty of breast milk or formula and, if he/she’s 4 months or older, a little water. Although heat exhaustion is not as severe as heat stroke, it can lead to it.
Heat stroke is more severe and life-threatening. Basically, the body’s temperature rises while its ability to cool off shuts down.
Some signs of heat stroke include:
- A temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 degrees Celsius) or higher — but no sweating
- Hot, red, dry skin
- Rapid pulse
- Headache (which may make him irritable)
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Lethargy (Your baby might not respond as strongly as usual when you call his name or tickle his skin, for example.)
If your baby shows any of these signs you need to call 911 immediately and undress your baby and lay him/her down in a cool spot. Cooling your baby off is the only priority until the ambulance gets there.
We do not want to take away from all the carefree fun that summer brings, however, we want to make it clear that the dangers the summer heat brings are very real and it is crucial you are aware of this. Always consult your doctor if you have any questions regarding your baby’s health and/or safety. Be sure to take proper precautions and action to protect your baby from any potential dangers. Knowing you’re keeping your baby safe will give you the peace of mind to enjoy the summer fun.
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