Taking care of a new baby in the heat of summer can be tricky. We are always trying to weigh out the risks and benefits of taking our activities outside and when we do go outside, we wonder if we are taking all the necessary precautions to keep baby protected. Whether you plan on staying in or venturing out, here are a few things to consider to help keep your babe safe and comfortable.
It matters what they wear. Overdressing your little one can cause them to sweat; babies do not perspire as effectively as adults, causing overheating much more quickly. This overheating can quickly turn to an angry heat rash. Baby heat rash looks like clusters of tiny, often moist red bumps similar to pimples or blisters. It usually appears on the face and in the skin folds of the neck, arms, legs, upper chest, and diaper area. Keeping them in loose-fitting clothing made with natural fibres, such as cotton, is best as cotton can absorb the moisture better and keep them cool, so always check their layers. Keeping them in the same number of layers as you are comfortable with is usually appropriate when it is hot outside.
Plan your outdoor activities at certain times of the day. Always keep in mind that the hottest time of the day is between 10am and 2pm, so it is best to avoid any activities in the outdoors during these peak hours of heat. If you have to be outside at this time of day, always be mindful of seeking shaded areas. Find spots that offer cover, such as trees, or have a canopy, umbrella, or shade tent to cover your baby. If you can find a spot that offers good ventilation and airflow, even better! Also keep in mind your babe’s clothing: light fabric, a long sleeve shirt, and long pants are better for protection. A long brimmed hat can help protect baby, too. And some parents can even manage to have their little fashionistas wear sunglasses to protect their eyes.
To sunscreen or not to sunscreen? Baby’s skin is much more sensitive to the sun as their outer layer of skin is very thin. This can make them much more prone to burning. It is best to avoid direct sun exposure if you can. It is always recommended to consult your physician before using sunscreen with infants under six months of age. Sunscreen is recommended to help prevent exposure to the UV rays; small amounts applied frequently is best. Remember that although sunscreen helps protect against the sun’s UV rays it does not protect your baby from the heat, so be sure to use all of the other tips as well to fully protect them from all the elements of heat and sun exposure.
Keep them hydrated. A flushed face, skin that’s warm to the touch, rapid breathing, and restlessness may all be warning signs of dehydration. When it is hot outside, always remember to keep them extra hydrated. Babies should be drinking at least 50 per cent more fluid during the summer months. The best options are breast milk and water. For babies under six months, just an increase in the number of times you nurse them is the best solution for best hydration. As they get older, you can consider homemade popsicles or other cool treats to help with hydration and keeping them cool.
As a parent, you need to consider your family’s lifestyle. If you enjoy outdoor activities, you will no doubt be incorporating these recommendations into your life with your new addition. So instead of feeling like you have to eliminate all the things you used to do before having kids, just be smart and as you keep in mind these simple tips, you will be better prepared to enjoy your summer months with your new little one in a safe and comfortable way.
Sharon is the owner of Calgary Birth Essentials, and has over 18 years experience educating and supporting families having babies in Calgary and surrounding communities. Calgary Birth Essentials offers small group and private prenatal classes, birth doula services, and lactation consultations. For more information, visit calgarybirthessentials.com.
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