How Do I Keep My Baby Cool on a Hot Day?
There's nothing like making those first summer memories with your baby and getting to see those sunny days with fresh eyes. As you experience those special moments, the last thing you want to be worrying about is whether your little one is cool and comfortable enough.
Babies are much more sensitive to temperature than adults, mostly because their body's surface area is about three times greater than an adult's relative to their body size. Plus, babies take longer to acclimatize to hot weather than adults. And since they can't tell us directly when they're too hot, it's important to watch for signs and take steps to help them stay cool on warm days.
What are the signs a baby is too hot?
Just like you can spot signs that your baby is hungry or sleepy, you can also keep an eye out for signs they're too hot. A few common things to look out for:
- Skin feels warmer to the touch than usual
- Baby's skin is red or face is flushed for no reason
- Baby is sweaty, has damp hair, or seems clammy
- Heat rash (small red dots and splotchy skin) appears, sometimes accompanied by chills or fever
- Baby seems fussy for no other reason
- More serious signs of overheating include vomiting, fever without sweat, or baby becoming lethargic or unresponsive
How to Keep a Baby Cool
Dress for Success
Because babies cannot regulate their body temperature as well as adults, the typical recommendation is to dress your baby in one more layer than what's comfortable for the adults. This still applies in warm weather, but stick to breathable fabrics like linen, cotton, or jersey knits that allow sweat to evaporate and effectively cool your babe. Layers are also smart for keeping your little one warm enough when transitioning into air conditioned buildings on hot days, but cool enough when outdoors.
A wide brim baby hat can also help provide additional shade.
Time Your Outings
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children not be outside for long periods if the heat index is above 90 degrees. If you're planning to spend a lot of time outdoors during a hot season, try to go out early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the hottest hours of the day. Typically, the sun is highest from 11am-3pm, so plan accordingly.
Seek Shade - or Make Your Own
If you can find a naturally shady area to take refuge from the sun, that's a great first step to staying cool and avoiding UV exposure. If you're in a wide open space with no trees or buildings to be found, pack an umbrella or beach tent to shade your babe while still enjoying the fresh air.
Consider a Fan
If cool breezes are hard to come by in your area, you might consider a clip-on stroller fan to help keep your babe comfy. Be sure it's made for mounting on a stroller to ensure little fingers don't get injured, and find a safe spot to mount it that works with your stroller design.
You can also pack a small fan to use in a beach tent or under an umbrella at a park.
Just like adults, babies will sweat more in the heat and may need more fluids than usual. If you're exclusively breastfeeding, there's no need to supplement with water, but your baby may want to feed more than usual. If bottle feeding, in addition to milk feeds, you can supplement with a little cooled, boiled water. If you have concerns, talk to your health care provider.
Get in the Water
Kiddie pools, nearby beaches, or even just a cool bath are a great way to cool down your little one in summer. Of course, infants will need to be held and closely supervised in water, and it's best to keep in the shade whenever possible on hot days. When out in the sun, be sure to follow sun safety rules!