This post is also available in: Svenska
Finally the summer heat is here! It’s so nice! But if it’s your first time caring for a sweaty baby, you’re probably asking – how am I going to deal with this? I’ve only just gotten used to changing my babies diapers! How am I meant to keep up? What’s my baby going to wear? Should I give water to my baby? There’s actually a little extra thinking involved when it comes to babies in the heat. Let’s start with the basic facts:
Babies are bad at regulating their body temperature
Newborns are not very good at regulating their body temperature. They easily get too cold or too hot if they are not dressed properly enough for the season. The bigger the child, the better their heating and cooling system works. A 5 year old is better at regulating one’s body temperature than a newborn.
Babies cool down by sweating
When babies get too hot and needs to cool down, they sweat. Babies often get sweaty on the head. But their feet, hands, back and neck are also common places that get sweaty, not at the least, during their sleep. When their skin gets wet, the body cools down slightly.
A sweaty baby may be too hot
Or it was the heat that made the baby sweat! (However, some children sweat every time they sleep, to the point where the pillowcase gets soaked, even if they’re only wearing diapers in a 20 degree room). It is very common to overdress babies in the summer. Sometimes I see parents with shorts, linen shirt and sunglasses, who have dressed their baby in a diaper, pants, socks, cardigan and covered them in a blanket inside the bunting/ sleeping bag of their stroller.
It’s great that the child is in the stroller. The stroller shades the baby from the sun. But if the stroller is black it can get very hot on the inside. Feel the stroller with your hand! If it feels hot, think about covering the canopy with a light baby blanket or a sheet. (Black attracts heat while white repels it) Looking to buy a stroller for your upcoming summer-baby? Buy a lighter colour!
If it’s 20-25 degrees outside and you’re dressed in short sleeves, then your baby doesn’t need to wear more than one layer of cotton clothes. Make sure that the stroller is not in the scorching sun for a long time. It will get super hot (feel it with your hand every now and then!). If it is 25-30 degrees in the shade, then the baby just needs a short-sleeved body, or just a diaper under thin sheets.
If your child is well, and does not sweat copiously, then they are well-dressed.
How do I know if my baby gets enough liquid in the heat?
If your baby is as alert as usual, eats and pees as usual, then they are well, they have received enough fluid. If your baby starts to get dull, or very whiny and can’t eat, it could be a sign that they’re too hot or they haven’t had enough liquid.
Think about what might be right for your child. If your baby sweats a lot, and it’s a very hot day, then maybe your baby is too hot. Go into the shade and take off their clothes. Try to breastfeed them or provide formula. Feel free to have skin-to-skin with your baby. Your body will help them set the right body temperature. Feel free to use a table fan if it is unbearably hot. This goes for being indoors or out.
If your baby is urinating much less than usual and is tired and lethargic, they may be lacking fluid. Go to a shady place or indoors in a cool room. Breastfeeding or formula also applies here. If your baby is so lethargic, they can’t really suck, you’re going to have to coax them. Put your baby skin-to-skin on your chest. This can usually make lethargic babies suckle more, and allows them to save energy. If your baby falls asleep after a few suckles, tickle or lightly pinch your baby on the hand or foot, and see if they wake up and suckle again.
If your baby does not start eating and doesn’t perk up after an hour of trying, it is time to go to the children’s emergency room. Your child may need IV fluids. It may also be that the lethargy and the lack of sucking is due to an infection that needs to be treated in hospital.
Should babies drink water in the heat?
Babies under three months, should not be given water. They need their nutrition, through breastmilk or formula, when they are drinking. Babies between 3 and 6 months old also do not need to be given water if they mainly live on breast milk or formula. It is perfectly possible to meet a babys’ hydrations needs even through breastfeeding or formula. If they want to taste the water that you’re drinking, or the juice or ice cream for that matter, then let them have a taste. If you don’t want to give it to them, then breastfeed them or give them formula. Children who have started eating larger amounts of solid food also have a greater need to drink water. Let thirsty children drink!