We all know that the sun and the heat from the big yellow fella’ can cause little ones to become really rather ill if we aren’t careful. But what is ‘careful’? Even the most seasoned parents and carers will at some point hit a time where they think ‘hmm, I’m not sure what to do here’. And let’s face it, it’s not like we have much of a chance to think about it in this neck of the woods before the rain sets in again! Meanwhile, here are some basic tips on ensuring a child’s well-being during a heatwave:
Fun in the Sun
- Babies less than six months old should be kept out of direct sunlight. Their skin is just not developed enough yet (too little melotonin) to cope with the suns rays.
- Older infants should also be kept out of the direct sun as much as possible, between 11am and 3pm when the sun is at its strongest. A parasol or sunshade on a pram is great for this – but please do not cover little one with a blanket or muslin – this can lead to poor airflow and essentially an ‘oven’ effect!
- Apply a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 (I personally use either 30 or 50) to your baby’s skin. Make sure the product also protects against both UVA and UVB rays. So far, I ave found both Tesco and Aldi own brand creams to have the highest (5 star / ultra) protection rating. Feel free to comment if you have found any more!
- Make sure your child wears a sunhat with a wide brim or a long flap at the back, to protect their head and neck from the sun – or if your child is anything like my Son, anything other than an Avengers cap just won’t do. Something is better than nothing, I just make sure to have plenty of cream on his neck and ears.
Fill ’em up
Like adults, babies and young children need to drink plenty of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated.
Breastfeeding? Babies DO NOT need extra water (unless medically advised). Just offer the breast as often as possible. Breast milk is a magical substance which changes to your babies needs at the time. Those a little older love a breast milk ice lolly too!
Bottle / formula feeding? Baby can be offered cooled, boiled water through the day on top of their usual feeds.
For older children, any fluids you can encourage is a bonus. Water, perfect. Diluted, juice, fine. Offer ice to suck, lollies, watery fruits. It will all help.
- Paddling pools are perfect for this time of year. Most children love the water and one under a gazebo or sunshade is just perfect – obviously well supervised.
- A nice, cool bath before bed can calm children enough for sleep. Its awful being all hot and bothered when trying to drift off, isn’t it?
- I keep all of our bedroom curtains closed through the day. Just before bedtime I use a fan to circulate the air around the room – a bowl of ice in front of the fan gives it an extra cool kick. Just be careful not to direct the fan right on to little one.
- Consider what you are comfortable sleeping in and follow the same for baby. Just a nappy or nappy and vest is just fine for extra hot weather. My eldest Son would only sleep in a grobag so I managed to find a 0.5tog one that was essentially a sheet. Perfect with just a nappy.
- A nursery thermometer will help you monitor the temperature of your baby’s room. Your baby will sleep most comfortably when their room is between 16C (61F) and 20C (68F).
Below is a useful link for any of my colleagues in Early Years Settings – advice from Public Health England.