Living in the UK, it’s easy to forget what sunshine is. Overcast days are all too common and while puddles may be great for splashing in, paddling in the sea is so much better! So when the clouds do part, everyone jumps at the chance to get out and about with little ones. While wonderful though, the warm weather can make it tricky to keep your baby cool in the summer heat.
That’s where sun cream and a bit of shade come in. More on that in a minute.
why is it important to keep your baby cool?
While fun in the sun has lots of benefits like fresh air and vitamin D, there can be risks to your little one if they indulge a little too long. In fact, babies under six months should be kept out of direct sunlight wherever possible. That’s because their skin doesn’t contain enough melanin yet, a pigment that helps protect them from the sun.
When they are exposed for too long, sunburn is perhaps the most obvious danger. However, there’s also the risk of heatstroke and dehydration. While the effects (like dizziness and headaches) are normally short-term, sunburn will make your little one feel very sore and can increase their chances of developing skin cancer in later life. So, how do you keep your baby cool in hot weather?
how to protect baby from sun
Perhaps the simplest solution is to be a shade-seeker. Whether relaxing with a story or splashing in the paddling pool, find a sheltered spot for the day. It’s particularly important to keep little ones shaded between 11am and 3pm when the sun is at its strongest. Why not pop up a UV sun tent which is perfect for some sheltered fun in the sun.
Even when you’re under a tree or it’s cloudy outside, always apply baby sun cream with an SPF of at least 15 – though the higher the better! Little patches like their ears and the tops of their feet are easy to miss so cover each exposed area and reapply every couple of hours, especially when some watery fun is involved.
Another easy way to help keep your baby cool is a baby sun hat with a wide brim or a flap at the back. While adding a spot of style to any outfit, it also keeps the sun off their face, neck and shoulders as they enjoy the warm weather. And if you’re on the move, most pushchairs have a parasol or canopy attachment that’s perfect for sunny days.
For your little one’s safety, it’s important not to cover their pram with a muslin or blanket instead of a parasol or canopy. Doing so can stop air circulation and increase the temperature, putting your baby at risk of overheating.
how to keep a baby's room cool in summer
When you’ve had your dose of fresh air and step back indoors, it’s still important to keep your baby cool. To make sure their room is a comfortable temperature for naptime, close the blinds or curtains during the day. Using an electric fan between naps also helps to circulate the air. To make sure it doesn’t get too hot or cold, use a room thermometer and aim for 16-20C. With light bedding, this is the perfect temperature for all their cute snoozing.
When it comes to bedtime, running a lukewarm bath can help to keep your baby cool as they settle down. Just make it a quick one and have their towel ready so your precious bundle doesn’t get too cold. Once dry and well-cuddled, the next step to coolness is clothing. Unlike us, babies can’t throw off a top if they’re too warm or grab it again when chilly! So keep layers to a minimum and consider using a low tog sleeping bag if your wriggler is prone to kicking the sheets off.
cool cotton and plenty of water
We all know that soft cotton helps keep your little one comfy but the material is also highly breathable. This makes it the ideal fabric to keep your baby cool in summer and help prevent them from overheating. On warm days, opt for a short-sleeved bodysuit but keep an extra layer on hand for cooler evenings.
Once they’re looking cute in cotton, the next thing they need is a drink. Keeping their liquids up, especially on warm days, helps tiny tots to regulate their temperature and prevent dehydration. If you’re breastfeeding, you may find that baby wants to feed more than usual. And from six months, you can also give them small amounts of water too.
too hot, too cold, or just right
If after all this advice you’re still wondering “is my baby too warm?”, there’s a simple way to tell. If you’re too hot, your little one probably is too. For a more accurate approach, use a digital thermometer to check their temperature. Ideally, they should be about 36.4C but this can vary slightly, especially if they’re running around in the sunshine.
If you’re worried your little sun-lover is getting too warm, check their chest. If it feels warmer than normal or they’re breathing faster than you expect, this could be a sign they’re overheating. Start by removing a layer and taking them somewhere cool for a drink or wipe them down with a damp cloth. If this doesn’t seem to work, give your doctor a quick call for some advice. It may be that a little rest somewhere shady will do the trick but it doesn’t hurt to check.
Between sunshades and staying indoors, there are lots of different ways to help keep your baby cool in hot weather. As long as you’re careful about how much sun they get, how many layers they wear and how much they drink, you should have a happy and playful baby on your hands. What better way to enjoy the warm weather together!