Us Brits love to moan about the weather, whether it’s too cold or too warm, and experiencing a heatwave is when weather whinging is really at its best.
But for parents of babies or young children, a heatwave can be more than something to moan about – it can be a major concern when trying to keep little ones cool, comfortable and, most importantly, safe in the heat.
Although sleeping in hot weather can be bad enough for adults, for babies it’s more than just a nuisance, it’s a serious health risk.
As well as becoming restless and uncomfortable, if a young child overheats it can be potentially life-threatening, even in some cases leading to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Watch out for your baby overheating by being aware of their temperature, excess sweating, a reddened face or rapid breaths; all of which could be a sign they are too hot. Experts at The Lullaby Trust recommend that a baby’s room temperature of 16-20°C should be just right for safe sleeping, with ‘light bedding or a lightweight well-fitting baby sleep bag that is comfortable and safe’.
To reduce the possibility of your child overheating we have spoken to a range of experts and gathered some top tips to try at home to keep your baby cool.
1. Stay away from the rays
‘If your baby is napping in the day, be careful to keep them out of direct sunlight even when inside by positioning your baby away from the window and in the shade. Remember that the sun is at its strongest between 11am-3pm.’
Doctor Isabel Sharkar, specialist at Sond skincare
2. Take a splash
‘If you’re worried about your little one feeling uncomfortable and sticky, opt for a cool or luke-warm bath for baby just before bedtime.’
Steve Pickering, sleep expert at Sussex Beds
3. Cold compress
‘Create a cold compress and apply it to main pressure points like the backs of knees, inner elbows, and neck. Wringing out a flannel in cold water and applying it to little one’s forehead and temples has a nice cooling effect too.’
4. Stay hydrated
‘Keep hydrated! This applies to you if you are breastfeeding as your baby should get enough fluids through feeding. If bottle feeding or weaning, ensure plenty of cooled boiled water is consumed, even at night.’
Angela Spencer, founder and author of Babyopathy
5. Circulate cooling air
‘If the room is very hot a fan generally just moves hot air about, so a good trick is to freeze a bottle of water and stand it in a bowl in front of the fan straight from the freezer. This will help to cool the air the fan is moving around in the room and by the time the temperature starts to drop the water will have defrosted.
Start this about half an hour before you put baby to bed so you can check the room temperature is safe for your baby’s bedtime.’
6. Cool surfaces
‘Just as important as the materials on your baby’s skin is the surface that you lay them on, make sure it’s not cold and sticky like a changing mat (put a muslin down first for example when changing in the middle of the night) and not too hot like a fleece just because it is softer.’
7. Stay relaxed
‘A frustrated baby is only going to raise its body temperature so in the hot weather try and maintain your calming bedtime routine. Allow them to settle naturally and if possible avoid controlled crying until the weather cools down again.’
8. Sleep downstairs
‘If it really is too hot upstairs, change to sleeping in a room downstairs for a while as it will be slightly cooler. Our heatwaves never last that long so it will likely only be a couple of days that you have to change to a cooler room.’
9. Light layers
‘The general rule of thumb for clothing at night is that your baby would need one extra layer of thin clothing to what you need, so if you don’t need anything due to the heat, a thin vest top over their nappy should be sufficient and breathable covering etc at the ready as the temperature will drop during the night.’
10. Cotton bottoms
‘In the warmer weather, change baby’s bottom sheets to cotton rather than nylon – the latter will absorb sweat.’