How To Take Care Of Your Summer Baby?
You have a summer baby. Congratulations! Summer is a great time to have a baby. There are, however, a few things you need to do to ensure your baby’s comfort because:
- Babies overheating have been linked to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome.) It is a fatal sleeping disorder that can happen any season but, “babies sleep deeply when they’re hot, making them difficult to arouse, which may increase the risk of SIDS,” – according to Dr. Bruce Epstein, (pediatrician, Pinellas Park, FL). It is therefore important that you keep your baby cool and comfortable in the summer.
- Babies do not perspire as we do. They become overheated far more quickly than any adult.
Therefore, you will want to keep your baby nice and cool. Here are a few helpful tips to prevent overheating:
Keep Your Summer Baby Hydrated
Babies cannot tell you when they are thirsty. During the summer, babies should drink at least 50% more than usual, (according to parents.com.) Whether you are breastfeeding or formula feeding, be sure to offer more for your baby to drink. If you are breastfeeding, make sure YOU are well hydrated too. Keep a water bottle close by.
If a baby is dehydrated, it means that the baby doesn’t have enough fluids in their body. This can happen if your baby takes in less fluid than is lost. Dehydration can be mild and easily corrected, but it can also be severe and life-threatening. Dehydration in babies is serious. Ensure that your baby is always well hydrated.
Warning Signs Of Dehydration In Babies
- Baby’s skin is warm to the touch;
- Baby has a flushed face;
- Baby is fussy and irritable;
- Baby is very thirsty;
- Baby’s urine is darker and smells stronger than usual;
- Baby has a dry mouth;
- There is less elasticity in baby’s skin;
- Baby has few or no tears when he/she cries;
- There have been more than six hours without a wet diaper;
- Baby’s eyes and fontanel (the soft spot on baby’s head) appear sunken; (SERIOUS)
- Baby shows signs of excessive sleepiness and fussiness; (SERIOUS)
- Baby’s hands and feet feel cold and look splotchy. (SERIOUS)
If your baby shows serious signs of dehydration, see your pediatrician or go to the ER immediately.
Dress Your Summer Baby Appropriately
Your baby’s skin is thinner and more sensitive than yours. It takes a little extra care whether you have a summer baby or a winter baby.
So how to dress a newborn in summer? That depends on whether you are indoors, outdoors, or putting your baby down to sleep.
Dressing Baby For Summer When Indoors
How you dress your baby will also depend on how hot it is in your home. Many moms leave their babies in just a diaper. Otherwise, dress your baby in loose-fitting, lightweight clothes, preferably made from a natural fiber like cotton. Natural fibers absorb perspiration better than synthetic fabrics.
Whether you have a summer baby or a winter baby, pediatricians suggest a good rule of thumb is to always dress your baby the way you are dressed. For example, if you’re wearing shorts and a t-shirt, your baby should be okay in a little onesie.
Dressing Baby For Summer When Outdoors
If you are heading outdoors, dress your baby in light clothes that are also light in color.
Depending on how hot it is outside, pediatricians recommend light-colored long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and a wide-brimmed hat to shield baby’s face. This may sound excessive to some but if you expose your baby’s skin to the hot outdoors, your baby will be vulnerable to painful sunburn or heatstroke.
Also resist the temptation to leave your baby exposed on a gray, summer day. Harmful rays can penetrate the clouds.
Always put on a hat. Bucket hats are great because they offer easy protection. Some bucket hats also come with extra UV protection.
Sunglasses for your baby is not just a fashion trend. You would be well advised to get a pair of sunglasses to protect your baby’s eyes and reduce glare. Do look for lenses that block at least 99 percent of ultraviolet (UVA and UVB) radiation. (Roshambo Baby Shades are a well-respected and positively reviewed brand.)
Dressing Baby For Summer When Sleeping
What should baby wear to bed in summer?
A diaper should be sufficient. By wearing only a diaper, your baby stays cooler and there is less risk of your baby overheating. (It’s also easier to do those middle of the night diaper changes.)
In some climates, it’s hot during the day but it gets very cool at night. For those climates, pediatricians advise light sleep sacks because it offers coverage without overheating babies.
If you swaddle your baby, use a muslin blanket. It’s light and airy and offers just enough coverage without overheating your baby.
If Possible, Stay Indoors
Because your baby’s skin is thinner, it is more vulnerable to the sun. The best place you can be with your baby is indoors.
Here are a few helpful tips to follow for keeping your home comfortable for your baby:
- The ideal temperature for a baby room in summer is 68–72°F (20–22.2°C). If the baby’s room doesn’t have a thermostat, get one, or let the baby sleep in a room with a thermostat. Do make sure the air conditioning is adjusted to 68–72°F (20–22.2°C). (This is the Goldilocks temperature – it’s not too hot or too cold. The last thing you want is for the room to get too cold for your baby.)
- Make sure air can circulate around your baby’s crib or bassinette. This may mean that you need to remove any liners or padding that you have on the crib.
- Make sure that the crib sheets are light. Cotton crib sheets are a great choice in the summer because they are light, and natural fibers absorb perspiration better than synthetic fabrics.
- If you use a fan, do not point the fan directly towards your baby. Instead, use the fan to keep the air circulating in the room.
- Keep your blinds and curtains closed in order to keep the overall temperature in your home down.
If You Need To Go Outdoors, Take Several Precautions
Pick Outdoor Time Wisely
If you are going to do activities outside, plan it for the cooler parts of the day. The worst time for your baby (and you) to be outdoors is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. This is when the sun does the most harm to skin, according to Dr Eric Siegel – Dermatologist.
Put On Sunscreen
Babies under 6 months have thin, delicate skin. It is best to keep babies this young out of the sun because your baby’s skin will burn much quicker than your skin. But, if being in the sun for short periods just cannot be avoided:
- Put on a sunscreen designed for babies and kids. Don’t be tempted to use regular sunscreen on your baby. It will sting if it gets into your baby’s eyes. Regular sunscreen may be too harsh on your baby’s delicate skin and may cause skin irritation. If you are worried about sensitivities, check a small area on your baby’s skin on the night before you plan to go out. This will help you detect if your baby will have any skin reactions.
- Choose a waterproof sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics says it’s okay to apply a small amount of sunscreen to a baby’s exposed skin, including the face. For babies older than 6 months, use sunscreen more liberally and more often. Reapply every two hours, or whenever your baby gets wet or sweaty.
- Apply sunscreen under clothes too because an average cotton T-shirt has an SPF of only 5, according to Dr. Siegel – Dermatologist, Milburn, NJ.
- Keep your baby out of direct sunlight;
- Dress your baby appropriately;
- Put on a bucket hat and baby sunglasses for extra protection.
Try To Be In The Shade Whenever Possible
If you are going to be outdoors, try to find shade whenever possible. Shade offers you some protection from UV radiation. If you can find it, try to get under dense shade – the darker the shadow, the better.
While shade is better than no shade, do keep in mind that UV can still reach you under the shade. As such, make sure that baby is covered with a broad-brimmed hat, baby sunscreen, baby sunglasses, and appropriate clothes.
Your Summer Baby In A Stroller
While your baby is in the stroller, do check on him/her regularly to ensure your baby’s comfort. And obviously, never leave baby unattended in a stroller.
If you are going to be out and about with your stroller, here are a few tips you may find helpful to keep your baby comfortable during the hot summer days.
- If the stroller has a canopy, put it up. If the cover is movable, be sure to move it as the sun’s position changes.
- To keep the stroller cool, you could use a car seat cooling pad or a car seat fan.
- Use a burp cloth dipped in water (not cold water), and sponge down your baby when necessary.
- Lightly cover your baby with a burp cloth that is made of natural fibers. Natural fibers absorb moisture better than synthetic fibers.
There is debate over this, but some say NOT to cover the stroller with a blanket – even if it’s a light, muslin blanket. The argument is that even a lightweight blanket can cause temperatures to rise inside the stroller. Also, if your baby is under a blanket, you won’t be able to see if your child is uncomfortable or struggling. Instead of a blanket, use a clip-on shade.
Your Summer Baby In The Car
NEVER LEAVE YOUR BABY IN A PARKED CAR – not even for a minute. Babies become overheated far more quickly than adults. Baby’s temperature could spike and, in extreme cases, may prove life-threatening. Even on ‘not so hot’ days, cars can get really hot inside, quickly.
How to keep baby cool in car seat is one of the top questions asked in forums. Here are 11 helpful tips:
- Avoid traveling when it’s very hot. Babies tend to get cranky when they become uncomfortable from the heat. If you have to travel by car, do so early in the day or at night.
- Cool down the car before you leave. You can do this by opening windows to let the hot air out. Better yet, turn on the air conditioning for a few minutes.
- Use window shades to cool down the car. You can stick them on side windows and protect your baby while you’re driving.
- Check that your baby is not in direct sunlight, either while you are driving or the car is standing. Babies can become overheated if direct sun is shining on them, even if the air conditioner is keeping the car cool.
- Apply baby sunscreen, even if you’re just going to be in the car. Baby skin is thinner than ours, so they can burn through windows if their skin is not protected.
- Make sure the car is well ventilated, with air flowing through the car.
- Never cover a baby’s car seat with a rug or towel to shade baby from the sun. It may restrict airflow and/or create a vacuum, making it even hotter. If you are trying to shade baby from the sun, use window shades, or cover the window with a towel if you don’t have window shades.
- Use a car seat fan. They are easy to use and all they require are batteries. Once your baby gets a little older and starts to grab it, you may need a car seat cooler instead.
- Cover baby’s car seat when it’s not in use. Car seats will absorb heat if the car is standing in the sun, especially if your car seats have dark colors. Keep the seat cooler with a cover that blocks out heat.
- Dress baby in light clothes. Clothes that are light in fabric and colors are preferred.
- Use a carseat cooler pad for baby’s car seat. Some parents prefer to cool the car seat before they leave the house. Simply attach the car seat cooler to the seat, and you’re set. These are great because they offer immediate comfort.
Your Summer Baby At The Beach
- If you are taking your baby to the beach, get under a canopy or beach umbrella. Better yet, a tent made of fabric treated to block the sun’s harmful rays would be quite suitable. Do make sure it has mesh sides for proper ventilation.
- Put on baby sunscreen, a bucket hat or broad-brimmed hat, and sunglasses. Reapply sunscreen every two hours.
- Make sure your baby is drinking lots of liquids. Be sure to offer liquids often.
How Hot Is Too Hot For Baby?
According to Dr. Jan Montague, director of pediatrics at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, New York, heat is to be avoided as much as possible. She says “it is not okay to take a newborn or any infant outside when it’s very hot—over 80 degrees or so,”
Once it gets over 80 degrees, it is harder for our bodies to cool off, especially for babies.
Dr. Montaque goes on to say that newborn “babies cannot sweat, which is your body’s way of cooling itself off, so they can often suffer heatstroke much quicker than an older child or adult.”
If the meteorologist says that it’s over 80 degrees, stay indoors with your baby.
Note From The Author
I felt it was my social duty to write an article that is thorough and helpful about having a summer baby.
I remember when I was a brand new mom and I did stupid things because I was ignorant. Not out of malice, but because I just didn’t know any better. I certainly didn’t know that babies are supposed to drink 50% more during summers. But, my babies told me this when they cried and nothing but more milk soothed them. And so that is my message to you. You may not know everything and that’s okay, but just being there and being attentive to your baby’s needs, will teach you most of what you need to know.
Stay cool and stay safe.