When it comes to keeping cool during the summer months, the concern for babies and young children goes beyond comfort. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, extreme heat can cause children to become sick in several ways, and a heat index at or above 90°F poses a significant health risk. Even less extreme temps can be dangerous, however. Once it gets over 80°F, the body has a harder time cooling off. This is especially true for babies who are unable to sweat, which is the body’s way of cooling itself off, putting them at a higher risk of heat stroke and dehydration. From fun ways to beat the heat to serious safety precautions, we’ve rounded up the best ways to keep your baby and kids cool during the summer months.
1. Dress for the day.
If the forecast is calling for high temps, start the day smart by dressing children in clothing that is light-colored, lightweight, and limited to a single layer of absorbent material to maximize sweat evaporation.
2. Provide good ventilation.
In addition to clothing, it’s important to use car seats and baby carriers that are made with breathable materials during the summer months. To really ensure your little one keeps cool during summer car rides, we suggest investing in a car seat cooler or Noggle to help beat the heat. If a child’s face begins to appear flushed, remove her from the carrier immediately, and never leave a child in a hot room or parked car.
3. Be sun savvy.
The sun is at its highest intensity between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., so it’s important to avoid areas that lack adequate protection from sun exposure such as playgrounds during those times. And while sunscreen is usually a smart choice, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises that for babies under 6 months old, you should only apply a minimal amount of sunscreen to their exposed skin, including the face. For babies and kids over 6 months old, sunscreen should be applied liberally and repeatedly when spending time outdoors.
4. Find an air-conditioned space.
If your home is not air-conditioned, spend the hottest of afternoons visiting your local library or catching a new flick at the movie theater, as both facilities are typically kept cool. To cool your house naturally, place fans in open windows to draw in the colder air. Early the next morning, lock in that air by closing the windows and drawing the blinds.
5. Stay hydrated.
Although hydration is important year-round, it’s especially critical during the warm summer months. Encourage children to drink water throughout the day and have it readily available, but remember that infants under 6 months old should not be given water. Instead, keep an extra bottle of breast milk or formula on hand for additional sips between feedings. If you suspect your baby or child is suffering from dehydration or heat exhaustion, contact a pediatrician immediately.
6. Watch for heat rash and sunburn.
If you notice tiny red bumps (aka heat rash) on your baby’s neck or groin, in the folds of her skin at the back of her knees, or in the crease of her elbows, change her into loose-fitting cotton clothes (or simply a diaper), and apply cornstarch baby powder to the affected areas. Keep her in a cool, well-ventilated room to help relieve symptoms. In the event that your baby gets a sunburn, contact a doctor immediately.
7. Cool off and have fun!
Even if you don’t have access to a pool or ocean or lake, there are many fun ways to beat the heat with water. Hook up the sprinkler in a shady spot or simply give your child a cool bath or water mist.
There’s so much to love about summer, and by taking the necessary precautions, your family can stay safe and cool as the temperature rises.
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