I love a sunburnt country …. but when the temperature rises into the mid-high thirties and beyond, the heat quickly becomes tiresome, especially with babies and young children. Hot weather affects us all differently, but it’s important to be aware of how to take care in extreme heat.
You might find that your baby seems fussy in the hot weather and sometimes feeding patterns change. Many babies will feed more often – hot weather makes us all thirsty, babies too. Breastfed babies will often want to feed more frequently and some mums notice their baby has lots of quick little feeds rather than long feeds. Young babies who are exclusively breastfed don’t need any extra fluids in hot weather. Your breastmilk will quench your baby’s thirst and ensure he stays well hydrated.
Sometimes the heat can make babies extra sleepy and you might have to wake a small baby to ensure she doesn’t become dehydrated.
Offer older babies and toddlers water in between feeds and meals – keeping a sippy cup, drink bottle or similar nearby is a good reminder for everyone to drink more often, including mum.
Find a cool place to feed – a cool spot under the air conditioner or in front of a fan – you might even try lying down on the bed.
Place a towel or damp cloth between you and your baby – it will stop you feeling so hot and sticky holding your baby against your skin at feed times.
It can still be hot when the sun goes down so think about how you will keep cool overnight. If your bedrooms have air conditioning or a fan you’ll probably sleep quite comfortably. If not, consider moving to a cooler room in the house – perhaps on mattresses on the floor, or purchasing a fan that can be moved from room to room.
Take care when going out in the car – hot buckles on car seats can burn! Cover buckles with a towel or blanket, you might even take a frozen ice brick or cold pack to keep in the car to ensure the car seat isn’t too hot on your return. Never, ever leave a child in the car.
A lukewarm or cool (not cold) bath is very soothing for babies and toddlers on a hot day, and lots of fun too. Dress your little one lightly – a nappy and singlet is probably all that’s needed on a very hot day.
Save the outdoor activities for early in the morning, or evening and stay indoors during the hottest part of the day. Be aware of how to keep your child safe in the sun; babies and children are especially vulnerable to sunburn and the damaging effects of the sun.
Remember to take care of your needs too - keep well hydrated, dress lightly and keep out of the sun as much as possible.
Rachel is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), Certified Infant Massage Instructor (CIMI) and has undertaken training in infant sleep, child development and nutrition. She is also an accredited provider of primary care Triple P (positive parenting program) and volunteers with the Australian Breastfeeding Association.