It seems like the hideous weather of the last few months has finally broken through into some sun, long may it continue. I was delivering a first aid course today in the glorious sun to some parents to be, one of whom was actually due tomorrow and we were discussing how to manage the heat with a new arrival. It is always a worry for new parents in the summer and overheating can actually increase the risk of SIDS - or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Babies and small children struggle to regulate their temperature.
Here are some hints and tips to get you through the hot season (unless a snow spell comes along to join us again). Small children and babies are the most susceptible to extremes of heat and do not cope particularly well with either extreme heat or extreme cold, so what do you do when your temperature gauge is glowing red and telling you it is 24 degrees in the baby's nursery? How do you get through the night without them melting?
Safe Room Temperature
Ideally the room in which a baby will be sleeping should be between 16 - 20 degrees either in the winter or the summer. If the room thermometer is consistently reading higher in the warmer weather you could try opening a window or door if possible. Another idea would be to keep a fan circulating the air around the room but not pointing directly at the baby.
Safer Sleep Advice
It is recommended by the Lullaby Trust that cots should be kept clear of any bumpers, duvets or pillows. They should also be clear of soft toys and loose bedding. A clear cot allows the air to flow freely around the baby, therefore helping to keep them cool in the summer. Light weight sleeping bags are ideal for use in the summer months and if you get a proper "gro bag" they will give you a guide on what your baby should wear. There are also different togs available, so lighter ones for the summer months.
Also consider their night wear underneath the sleeping bag. If you are uncertain if your baby is too hot or cold, you can check by placing your hand on their chest. This is more accurate than touching their hand / foot which are often exposed & cold.
Feeding adviceIn this hot weather it is important to make sure your baby is getting enough fluid. If your baby is bottle fed you can offer the cool boiled water between feeds when it is really hot. If they are breast fed offer them the breast more frequently to keep their fluids topped up. Make sure they are still having plenty of wet nappies
Keeping Safe in the sun
Babies who are under 6 months of age should be kept out of direct sun. When they are a bit older the sun should be avoided between 11 and 3pm. If you do venture out you can attach a sun shade to the pushchair but do not cover with a blanket. Make sure you apply sunscreen to their skin with a factor higher than 15 and make sure you check out the UVA and UVB content of the brand you choose. Make sure you cover their heads & neck with an appropriate hat (where possible) and keep loose garments on them.
Summer can be lots of fun especially if you are on maternity leave and enjoying a well earned break with your baby just make sure you enjoy it safely.