4 ways to protect your baby during hot weather
Being outside is fun and healthy for babies, but during the warmer months, it is vitally important to always be thinking about heat and how it can affect our littlest loved ones. Since babies can’t tell you they’re overheating, knowing the signs is critical. Pediatrician Sara Finley Lindsey, MD, explained what to look for and offered advice on three other ways you can protect your baby during hot weather.
Know when your baby might be overheating
“It’s easy to underestimate the risk of heatstroke when it comes to kids,” said Dr. Lindsey. “Young children’s bodies heat up more quickly than an adult’s body, so things can already be too hot for your little one before you feel uncomfortable.”
Dr. Lindsey said to watch for the following signs that your infant is getting too hot:
- Red, flushed skin
- Excessive fussiness or crying
- Skin that is warm to the touch or unexplained fever
- Extreme sleepiness
“If concerned, seek a cooler area and contact your physician if symptoms do not improve,” Dr. Lindsey said.
Help your baby stay cool
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents should exercise caution when taking infants outside when the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. When you are spending time outdoors, be sure to follow these guidelines.
- Stay out of direct sunlight.
- Avoid prolonged exposure during midday when temperatures are often at their highest.
- Dress infants in lightweight materials, taking care to avoid extra layers.
- Keep your baby hydrated. “Infants are at risk for dehydration when the weather is hot so keep them hydrated with breast milk and formula only,” Dr. Lindsey said. “Water can potentially be dangerous for newborns and young infants.”
Protect your baby’s skin from the sun
A baby’s skin can burn easily, so limit how much sun exposure your baby is getting. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping newborns and infants younger than 6 months out of direct sunlight. If needed, sunscreen should be applied only to small, exposed areas and infants should wear protective clothing, including a hat.
For older infants, choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Look for sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as they don’t need to be absorbed to work and may be an option for sensitive skin.
Be aware of the risk of hot cars
As busy as we are, it can be tempting to leave a sleeping child in a car while running in to handle a chore – but that is extremely risky behavior and could lead to a tragic outcome.
The temperature inside a parked car can become much hotter than the temperature outside. In fact, the temperature inside a car that is parked in the sun can climb to 145 to 150 degrees in just 40 minutes! Rolling down the windows does not help or reduce the risk. Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children, but there are strategies that can prevent this tragedy.
One thing we can always count on in South Carolina is a hot summer. So be mindful of your child’s sensitivity to the heat, know the signs of overheating, follow these signs to protect your baby during hot weather and do everything you can to make sure you and your family have a safe and fun-filled season.
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