Summertime Infant Care: How to Take Care of Your Baby During the Summer Heat

As summertime rolls in, our minds are already on getting some good ole vitamin sea. Who doesn't want to swim the heat away? A sudden beach trip would be nice, except if you have young children. Hopping in your car and going on a beach escapade may not be such a good idea after all. 

Well, technically, you can bring your baby to the beach. But should you, especially with the current weather? With temperatures that can spike as high as 50 degrees Celsius, getting caught outside may open you to various health problems. One of which is heatstroke, a potentially deadly condition. If adults are already at risk, what more with babies who are still unable to regulate their body heat? 

How Does Heat Affect Babies?

Babies' temperature-regulating systems still need to develop fully. Infants are not as efficient in keeping cool because they have fewer sweat glands than adults. Worse, they can't tell us when they're hot or thirsty. 

This is also why they're more prone to hyperthermia. This potentially life-threatening condition causes the body's temperature to rise abnormally high due to failed thermoregulation. So we need to be extra careful about our little ones during summer.

If the baby's temperature doesn't return to normal, this may even lead to heat exhaustion, a more severe condition that can raise your child's temperature to 39.4 degrees. At this point, your baby needs immediate medical attention. If left untreated, this condition may progress to heat stroke. It may also lead to coma, convulsions, and even death.   

Okay. So does that mean you can't bring your baby outside? Well, not exactly. No rule says you need to lock your baby inside your home until their sweat glands are fully developed and their skin less sensitive. But you need to limit their time outside and keep them from direct sunlight. When the heat index is over 32 degrees, you should avoid going out entirely.

How to Protect Your Baby from the Heat

Here are some invaluable infant care tips during the summer that can save your child from getting overly heated.

Dress them properly

The temperature outside during summertime can get burning hot. You'd think it's so much better inside, but that's where you're wrong. The temperature indoors can also rise dramatically. So make sure to dress your baby in loose-fitting and lightweight clothes made from breathable, natural fiber, like cotton, because it absorbs sweat better than any synthetic fabric. 

If you must go outside with your baby during the day, ensure that both of you are appropriately dressed. Wearing light-colored clothes and a wide-brimmed hat ought to do the trick. 

Keep them hydrated

There are obvious signs to watch out for that your baby is overheated, such as a flushed face, restlessness, rapid breathing, and unusually warm skin. But let's not get to that point. Always keep a bottle of water with you if you need to go outside. 

But babies under six months old shouldn't drink water yet, as it could lead to water intoxication. Instead of water, you can give him more formula, or you can nurse him more often.

Keep babies in well-ventilated rooms or spaces

A baby's body is still not developed enough to regulate heat properly. So leaving them in a hot room or parked car even for a few minutes could prove fatal. 

Use a summer-friendly infant carrier

Baby carriers are heaven-sent. They make parenthood much easier, especially when you have a clingy baby. But babywearing during summer may not be as comfortable for both the parent and the child because the combined heat produced by your body and the confining space of the carrier can make a newborn hot and fussy in just a few minutes. 

If you must use a baby carrier in summer, make sure to choose one made from thin, lightweight materials. You can also spray or wipe their hands and feet with water to keep them cool. 

When Is It Safe to Use Sunscreen on Newborns?

Babies under six months have thin, delicate skin. So do all you can to keep them out of direct sunlight, especially between 10 AM and 2 PM, when the sun is at its peak. Experts advise parents to refrain from using sunscreen. But if it can't always be helped - like when you're going to the beach for a dip. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends applying a very light layer of sunscreen on the baby's skin, including the face. But only do so when necessary.

You can use sunscreen more liberally and more often on babies older than six months. Reapply every couple of hours or whenever they get wet or sweaty. Use a broad-spectrum, waterproof sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 that's specifically designed for kids. An average cotton shirt only offers an SPF of five. So apply it to the entire body, not just the exposed skin.

Dehydration Symptoms in Young Children

Some common warning signs that your baby might be suffering from dehydration are:

  • Few wet diapers
  • Few tears were produced while crying
  • Dry mouth or tongue
  • Smelly or dark yellow urine
  • Sunken eyes or cheeks
  • Skin that looks mottled and grayish
  • Skin that is cool to the touch
  • Listlessness
  • High fever

If your child is showing symptoms of dehydration, make sure that he drinks plenty of water or an electrolyte replacement solution, such as Pedialyte. If your child is under six months old, coax him to drink more breastmilk or formula. You should also call your doctor as soon as possible because dehydration puts your baby at an increased risk for heat stroke and exhaustion. 

Heat Stroke Symptoms in Infants

Heat stroke is a condition that forces the body to overheat. When body temperature exceeds 40 degrees, body cells begin to break down, causing essential body parts to start malfunctioning. 

Some of the common symptoms of heat stroke in newborns include:

  • Heavy sweating abruptly stops. 
  • A body temperature that is over 40 degrees
  • Pale and clammy skin
  • Always thirsty
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Hyperventilation
  • The soft spot on the baby's head (the fontanelle) is sunken
  • Dark-colored urine or fewer wet diapers
  • Dry eyes and mouth
  • Muscle cramps
  • Headache
  • A feeling of being sleepy all the time
  • Vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coma

If you suspect your child starts showing signs of heat stroke, bring them to the nearest hospital immediately. Complications, such as brain damage and organ failure, might arise if you ignore these warning signs. 

Other FAQs

How often should I Bathe my baby in summer?

We want to keep our babies as clean and comfortable as possible, especially during summer. But bathing them too often may actually be counterintuitive. Instead of doing good, it will only dry out their skin. Giving your baby a bath two or three times a week should be enough in most cases.

Is baby powder good for summer?

Baby powder helps absorb sweat. But since babies don't sweat much, you only need to apply in areas where friction happens most. This includes the diaper area, armpits, neck, and groin instead of smothering it all over your baby's body.

Is talc cancerous?

Talc, in its natural form, may contain varying amounts of asbestos, a known carcinogen. But most commercial talcum powder products have undergone a purifying process to remove the asbestos. While there have been reports that talcum-based powder causes cancer, there's no strong evidence linking the two at this time. Of course, some brands still sell talcum powder with trace amounts of asbestos. So make sure you only get one that's proven to be baby-safe.

Is it safe to use talcum powder on babies?

Talcum powder isn't unsafe per se. But experts still recommend against one. That's because it contains tiny particles that can cause breathing problems when inhaled. This is especially true in babies suffering from respiratory issues, such as asthma. 

Can I use baby powder every day on my baby?

Yes. You can use baby powder on your child every day. But use it in small quantities. You should also keep the plume of talc in the air as little as possible and away from your child.

What can I use instead of baby powder?

Cornstarch. Yup! The one found in the baking aisle. Cornstarch has the same anti-friction and absorptive properties as talcum-based powder. But it isn't mineral-based and has larger particles, so it's considered a safer alternative. 

In fact, big names like Johnson & Johnson launched their own line of cornstarch baby powder. Although there isn't any danger of asbestos, it can still cause respiratory problems when inhaled in large quantities. 

Can I Moisturize My Baby's Skin in Summer?

It's essential to keep your baby's skin moisturized, especially during summer. At around four weeks old, you can start applying a hypoallergenic lotion or cream on your baby. Make sure the product you use is free of dyes, fragrances, and alcohol. For premature babies, wait until they're at least six weeks old before applying any product to their skin.

Concluding Thoughts

The summer heat can be brutal, especially for young children. The best way you can keep your baby safe from heat stroke is to prevent them from getting dehydrated and overheated in the first place. But if worse comes to worst, don't hesitate to bring them to the emergency room.

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