Whether you spend it inside or in the great outdoors, summer is a tricky season for keeping an infant safe and comfortable. Overdress a baby and he could develop an angry heat rash; expose his fragile body to hot conditions and he could be vulnerable to a painful, damaging sunburn or to heatstroke, a serious affliction characterized by a high fever and rapid breathing.
As summer sets in, these simple tips will help you keep your baby cool and comfortable.
Stay indoors during the peak heat hours (10am-6pm)
It is best to stay indoors during the hottest hours of the day. If you need to step out in the sun, ensure that your baby is well protected.
Take him out for walks early in the morning or late in the evening. Remove any excess padding from the pram as it can get very hot. You can also place a cotton sheet in the pram. Lying on cotton will be less hot for your baby than on the synthetic covering of the pram.
Choose suitable nappies
Disposable nappies will keep your baby much warmer than cotton nappies. The synthetic band of the disposable nappy may give your baby a heat rash especially where sweat tends to collect.
Cotton cloth nappies may be more comfortable and help to prevent heat and nappy rash. If you have to use disposable nappies, keep him in a cool environment and dress your baby appropriately.
Dress your baby right
What your baby wears can help keep him cool.
- Dress your baby in cool cotton clothes. Avoid synthetic clothes, as they trap heat and can be very uncomfortable for your baby. They may even cause prickly heat rashes.
- Choose long-sleeved, light clothes when out in the sun.
- Get a sun hat for your baby. Make sure it has a wide rim, and that it fits well. It’s best to avoid hats with elastic support which may constrict blood circulation.
Keep your baby hydrated
If your baby is younger than six months, and if you are exclusively breastfeeding, you do not need to give him water, even in hot weather. Babies who breastfeed whenever they wish do not get dehydrated.
In hot weather, your baby may want to have more frequent, shorter feeds. He will get enough liquid from your breastmilk. These short feeds will give him more foremilk. This is thinner and more refreshing than the fat rich hindmilk. So let him have as many extra feeds as he wishes.
If your baby is formula-fed, you could offer him some boiled, cooled water in hot weather.
For older babies who are already on solids, you could try lassi, milk shakes, fresh fruit juices and coconut water. These are refreshing and nutritious. Find out which are the best and worst drinks for thirsty children.
Avoid buying food and drinks in the street
Don’t give your baby ice-cream, popsicles, baraf ke gole, water and fruit juices from roadside vendors. These may not be fresh and may make your baby sick. Try to take food and water for your baby when you go out with him. You may like to buy good, food grade plastic ware (preferably BPA-free) to store your baby’s food.Taste your baby’s food before you feed him, to ensure that it is not spoilt. This is particularly important in the hot summer months, when stored cooked food spoils very quickly. Make sure food kept in the fridge is safe enough to eat, especially during power cuts.
Simple home remedies for heat rashes
Hot, humid days cause prickly heat rashes on the nape of the neck, shoulder, back, nappy area and in the skin folds. You can help treat this.Some mums use buttermilk or curd mixed with cooled boiled water on the rash. Some also use a paste of Fuller’s Earth (multani mitti) and rose water (gulab jal) and wash the paste off after 10 minutes. These are believed to have cooling and healing properties.
Calamine lotion is also very good, but check with your doctor before using it on your baby.
Do be very careful about trying any home remedies as some ingredients may not be safe for young babies. A baby is most prone to infections, especially during his first six months when his immune system is not very strong.