Keeping Baby Cool
Being too hot is very uncomfortable and, unlike adults, babies can’t do much to cool themselves off. Chances are if you are hot, so is your baby. Here are some tips for keeping baby cool when it’s hot outside:
• Dress baby in lightweight clothes, like onsies or t-shirts and shorts, made out of breathable fabric.
• Be cautious in the car – Even with the air conditioner on, babies can get really hot in the car. The padding and fabric used in car seats don’t allow for much air flow, and when put in the rear-facing position babies may not be exposed to the cool air from the air conditioning vents. To keep baby as cool as possible, minimize sun exposure by putting a shade in the window or positioning the car seat in the middle seat, furthest from the window. If you are going to be in the car for an extended period of time, stop periodically and make sure your baby isn’t getting too hot and, when possible, avoid car rides during the hottest parts of the day.
• Safe sleep – Remove the bumper from the crib to maximize air flow. You can also use a fan to keep the air circulating in the room while your baby sleeps. Thick blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals should not be kept in the crib with a sleeping baby.
• Hydration – Babies can get dehydrated quickly when it’s hot, but for babies under 6 months, the amount of breast milk or formula they are drinking is usually enough liquid to provide all the hydration they need. If you are concerned about dehydration, talk to your pediatrician.
• A little water and some plastic cups are all you need to turn your bathtub into a fun, cool, sun-free “pool.” If your baby isn’t sitting on her own, you can get in with her!
Babies can get sunburned after just a few minutes in the sun and studies have shown that sun exposure during childhood is related to future risk of skin cancer, so it’s important to protect your baby when playing outside.
• The AAP recommends that infants younger than 6 months be kept out of direct sunlight and should avoid wearing sunscreen unless shade or protective clothing is unavailable.
• After 6 months of age, put sunscreen on your baby anytime she’s playing outside. Hats and protective clothing should be used when appropriate to provide further sun protection.
• When choosing sunscreen, choose one that is SPF 15 or higher, and labeled “broad-spectrum” because it protects against multiple types of UV rays. When applying sunscreen, follow the directions carefully to maximize effectiveness. It is best to apply it 30 minutes before going outside so that it has time to start working!
• UV rays are most intense on summer days, between 10am and 4pm. To minimize exposure, plan your outside play for early in the morning or in the evening.
• Sand, concrete, and water reflect sunlight and increase exposure, so be extra cautious when playing on or near these surfaces.
• The UV rays that cause skin damage are still present when it is cloudy or overcast. Sunscreen, protective hats and clothing, and sun shades should still be used even if it isn’t bright and sunny.
• It may take her some getting used to, but wearing sunglasses with UV protection will help keep your baby’s eyes safe.
Playing outside is a great way for your baby to explore the world and develop motor skills. We hope these tips help you and your baby have a fun and exciting summer, even when it’s hot out!
American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Environmental Health. Ultraviolet Light: A Hazard to Children. Pediatrics. 1999:104(2)328-332
Balk SJ, the Council on Environmental Health and Section on Dermatology. Ultraviolet Radiation: AHazard to Children and Adolecents. Pediatrics. 2011:127(3);e791-e871.
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