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. Babies and children are sensitive to the smallest levels of water loss and dehydration in babies can be serious if not addressed immediately.
The best strategy is prevention and keeping you’re little one cool in the sun should be a priority.
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. Cotton bottoms
‘In the warmer weather, change baby’s bottom sheets to cotton rather than nylon – the latter will absorb sweat.’
Steve Pickering, sleep expert at Sussex Beds
Damon Marriot, Head of Product Development at Joie UK adds: ‘Light and breathable cotton fabrics are best as they will help your baby stay cool as the natural fibres let the skin breathe. Layering is also useful as you can put on/take off clothing depending on the temperature – we all know the UK weather can turn from hot to cool pretty quickly!’
2. Ditch the clothes
Damion Marriot says: ‘If your baby is still in nappies and it’s very warm then let them enjoy the freedom of not wearing any clothes – as long as they are in the shade.’
Damion Marriot says you should consider covering your stroller or carseat with a muslin cloth or invest in a stroller that has more breathable materials in the liner if you find yours often gets hot and sticky. He recommends: ‘The Joie spin 360 signature comes with an interchangeable mesh-lined summer seat cover for cool comfort in soaring temperatures. The added benefit is that it’s easy to remove and clean if any mess is made too.’
4. 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.’
5. 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.’
6. 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
7. 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.’
8. 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.’
9. 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.’
10. 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.’
11. Light layers at night
‘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.’
12. Stay away from the rays
It sounds simple, but it makes a lot of sense while your baby is really little.
Doctor Isabel Sharkar, specialist at Sond skincare explains: ‘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.’