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  • Writer's picturePaula Robertson

Keeping Your Little Ones Cool: Essential Tips for Managing Hot Weather

Practical tips for navigating the recent hot weather spells safely....



As the temperature rises, ensuring your baby, infant, or child stays comfortable and safe in the heat becomes a top priority. Hot weather can pose unique challenges for parents, but with some practical advice and preparation, you can help your little one stay cool and happy. In this article, we'll provide essential tips on managing hot weather in babies, infants, and children.


Dress for Success: Choosing the right clothing is crucial in keeping your child comfortable in the heat. Kids should wear light-colored, loose clothing on hot days and use sunscreen when outdoors.


Stay Hydrated: Maintaining proper hydration is key, especially in hot weather. For babies under six months, breast milk or formula is sufficient. If your child is older than six months, offer plenty of water throughout the day. Teach kids to come indoors, rest, and hydrate right away whenever they feel overheated. Remember to watch for signs of dehydration, such as dry mouth, fewer wet diapers, and listlessness. For children who are involved in strenuous sports and outdoor activities, adequate hydration is especially important. It's important to encourage them to drink fluids regularly, even if they don't feel thirsty; you can also use an electrolyte solution, like sports drinks, to help replace fluid losses through sweat.


Seek Shade: Avoid direct sun exposure, especially during peak hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you must go outdoors, seek shade under trees, umbrellas, or use a stroller canopy. Additionally, consider investing in a portable playpen with a built-in sunshade for added protection.


Consider Lightweight Bedding: Swap out heavy blankets and sheets for lighter alternatives made from breathable materials. A single lightweight blanket may be all your baby needs for a comfortable night's sleep in warmer weather.


Provide Proper Ventilation: Ensure your home stays well-ventilated by using fans or air conditioning. If using a fan, make sure it's positioned safely out of reach of little hands. During the day keep windows and blinds closed to block out direct sunlight and, if possible, open them at night to let in cooler air.


Use Cooling Techniques: Cooling techniques like a damp washcloth on the forehead or misting your child's skin with a spray bottle of water can provide instant relief from the heat. Avoid using ice packs directly on the skin and opt for a cloth barrier instead.


Offer Cool, Nutritious Snacks: Provide refreshing snacks like chilled fruits (e.g., watermelon, cucumber) or yogurt. These not only help keep your child hydrated but also offer essential nutrients.


Monitor for Signs of Overheating: Pay close attention to your child's behavior. Signs of overheating include excessive sweating, flushed skin, rapid breathing, or lethargy. If you notice any of these symptoms, move your child to a cooler environment and consult a healthcare professional.


Avoid Hot Cars: Never leave your child unattended in a parked car, even for a short period. Temperatures inside a car can soar rapidly, posing a serious risk of heatstroke.


Take Activities Indoors: On exceptionally hot days, consider engaging in indoor activities like reading, puzzles, or art projects to keep your child entertained while avoiding the heat.


Red Flags/What to look out for: Here are some specific things to look for, and tips on what you can do in situations of heat illness - with increasing severity, these include heat cramps, heat exhaustion and finally heatstroke (a medical emergency).


Heat Cramps: These are painful muscle cramps in the legs, arms, or tummy that can happen during or after vigorous exercise in extreme heat. Sweating during physical activity in extremely hot weather causes the body to lose fluids and salts, and this is what causes the muscles to cramp. Children are particularly at risk for heat cramps when they aren't drinking enough fluids. Heat cramps will usually improve when sufficient rest and fluids.


What to do:

  • Take your child to a cool place and let them rest.

  • Give water or fluids that contain salt and sugar, such as sports drinks.

  • Gently stretch and massage cramped muscles.


If cramps don’t get better within an hour, or someone with heat cramps has a history of heart problems or is on a low-sodium diet, they should seek medical attention.



Heat Exhaustion: This is a more severe heat illness that can happen when someone in a hot environment hasn't been drinking enough fluids. Symptoms can include:

  • increased thirst

  • weakness

  • dizziness or fainting

  • muscle cramps

  • nausea or vomiting

  • irritability

  • headache

  • heavy sweating

  • cool, clammy skin

  • a raised body temperature, but less than 104°F (40°C)

What to do:

  • Bring your child to a cooler place indoors, an air-conditioned car, or shady area.

  • Remove excess clothing.

  • Encourage water or cool fluids containing salt and sugar, like sports drinks.

  • Put a cool, wet cloth or cool water on your child's skin.

  • Call your child's doctor for advice. A child who is too exhausted or ill to drink or who doesn't feel better within an hour might need to get intravenous (IV) fluids, so seek medical attention if you're concerned.

If left untreated, heat exhaustion can develop into heatstroke, which is much more serious


Heatstroke: This is a life-threatening medical emergency. In heatstroke, the body cannot regulate its own temperature and this can lead to brain injury or even death if it isn't treated right away. Quick medical care is needed to bring the body temperature under control. Children are at increased risk for heatstroke if they overdress or do intense physical activity in hot weather without drinking enough liquids.


Heatstroke also can happen when a child is left unattended in a car on a hot day, as the temperature inside the car can soar quickly.


What to do: Call for emergency medical help if your child has been in a hot environment and shows one or more of these symptoms of possible heatstroke:

  • severe headache

  • weakness, dizziness

  • confusion

  • nausea

  • rapid breathing and heartbeat

  • loss of consciousness

  • seizure

  • no sweating

  • flushed, hot, dry skin

  • temperature of 104°F (40°C) or higher

While waiting for help:

  • Get your child into the shade.

  • Undress your child and sponge them with cool water.

  • Do not attempt to give fluids if your child is unconscious, drowsy, agitated, having a seizure or behaving strangely.


With these practical tips, you can confidently navigate the challenges of hot weather spells. Remember, each child is unique, so pay attention to their individual needs and preferences. By being vigilant and proactive, you'll ensure your baby, infant, or child stays comfortable and safe.



Be well,

Paula



Dr Paula Robertson is a busy mom and a paediatrician with over twenty years' experience working with young people and their families. She is also a certified children's mindfulness teacher and Positive Discipline Parenting coach. You can find out more at www.paulathedoctormom.com.

Our AI wellness assistant has contributed to the writing of this article

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