Top Tips to Keep Baby Cool and Safe This Summer
This week, we are welcoming summer with 90-degree temperatures in the D.C. metro area. With hot temperatures, I begin to worry if my little ones are cool enough, have enough sunscreen on, and are staying hydrated. Since a baby's temperature-regulating systems are not fully developed, they sweat less than adults. When the summer temperatures increase, young children are not as efficient in keeping cool and are susceptible to hyperthermia. Hyperthermia is when the body temperature is abnormally high, causing heat exhaustion. If left untreated, a child will develop heat stroke, resulting in convulsions, stroke, and even death.
Top Tips to Keep Baby Cool and Safe This Summer:
1. When babies are too hot, they tend to sleep and often are hard to wake up. To keep your child from overheating, dress them in loose-fitting, lightweight clothing, such as cotton. When you cannot avoid the sun, cover as much of your baby's skin as you can and be sure to dress them in a wide-brimmed UV hat. At night, dress them in one more layer of clothing than you would wear.
2. If you babywear, be sure to use a summer-friendly baby carrier to avoid overheating. Linen-ring slings, mei teis, and structured carriers with ventilation are good options. For more information on babywearing during the summer, be sure to read 5 Tips for Hot Babywearing.
3. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies under the age of 6 months should not be exposed to the sun, but if it cannot be avoided, to use sunscreen. Sunscreen that contains inorganic filters such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the least harmful, especially when applied on the face. If your baby is older than 6 months, it is recommended that sunscreen be reapplied every two hours.
4. Be sure to protect your baby's eyes with sunglasses to avoid harmful UV exposure. Children are more susceptible to UV damage since the lenses of their eyes are more transparent, which allows short wavelength light to reach the retina. UV damage is cumulative, so it's important to protect your baby's eyes at a young age. Your baby should wear sunglasses that are impact resistant, made of polycarbonate material, and offer 99%-100% UV protection.
5. Be extra cautious with daily routines to avoid the fatal mistake of leaving your baby in a hot car. According to the Department of GeoSciences, since 1998, there have been at least 606 documented cases of heatstroke deaths of children in vehicles, with 31% of the cases involving a child under the age of 1 year. This year, there have been seven documented cases so far. Kids and Cars has implemented a Lock Before You Walk campaign to help parents keep their children car safe.
Back seat: Put something in the back seat whenever you strap a child in so you have to open the back door, or at least turn around, to find that item when you get out of the car–your handbag or briefcase, cellphone or employee badge.
Every child should be correctly restrained in the back seat.
Stuffed animal: Keep a brightly colored one in the car seat when your child isn't there. Then move it from the car seat to the front seat after you strap your child in to remind you when your baby is in the back seat.
Ask your baby sitter or childcare provider to call you within 10 minutes if your child hasn't arrived on time.
Focus on driving: Avoid cellphone calls and text messaging while driving.
Every time you park your vehicle–every single time — open the back door to make sure no one has been left behind.
What are your biggest concerns about keeping your child safe during the summer months?