As summer sets in, these simple tips will help you keep your baby cool and comfortable.
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.
Stay indoors during the peak heat hours (10am-5pm)
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.
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.
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.
Use massage oils with care
In the summer, try to avoid massage oils. They can give your baby a heat rash or irritate his skin if not washed off properly. If you still want to massage him, you can give him a dry massage. If you feel the need to use oil, try cooling oils, like olive oil or coconut oil. See that it is all washed off your baby’s skin during his bath.
Lotions and creams can also irritate your baby’s skin in the heat. But while going out in the sun, its important to use a sunscreen recommended by your doctor on your little one. The cream will protect your baby’s gentle skin from the harmful rays of the sun.
Limit the use of talcum powder to keep your baby cool
Many mothers use a lot of talcum powder on their babies after a bath, thinking that this will keep their babies cool. Powder on wet skin can cake up and cause irritation and discomfort. So it’s best to limit its use, especially near the nappy and neck. It is best not to buy prickly heat powder as it may irritate your baby’s skin even more.
If you still want to use talc on your baby’s body, see that he doesn’t breathe it in. Use it sparingly and rub it in well. Read more about using talcum powder safely.
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.
Let your baby cool off with some water play
Summers are a good time to let your baby enjoy some water play. You can put your baby in his bathtub or a small inflatable baby pool with a little water and some bath toys. Babies love to splash around, so let him have fun.
However, never leave your baby alone, even for a second. Babies can drown in even a few inches of water.
Avoid taking your baby to an air conditioned room right after a bath
Switch on the air conditioner only after your baby is fully clothed and his hair is dry. Dress your baby in thicker cotton clothes and an inner vest if you plan to keep him in an air conditioned room all day. Babies can quickly catch a chill or cold if they are not well protected.
Keep your baby away from direct cold air flow
Do not let the cold air from the AC or cooler hit your baby directly. Whenever your baby is sleeping or playing, ensure that the cold air does not flow directly at him.
It’s also best not to take your baby into warmer areas just after he has been in an air conditioned room. Switch off the AC first. Let him adjust to the warmth before taking him out.
Protect your baby from mosquitoes
Summer also means there are mosquitoes about that spread diseases, like malaria and dengue. Use a mosquito net for your baby, especially if you have many mosquitoes, flies and other insects around your home.
You can also find out more about how to treat insect bites.
Do not use cheap goggles or eye shades for your baby
Some new parents like to use goggles or eye shades for the baby. While opinion on infants using shades is divided, it is best to speak to your doctor.
If you really want to get shades for your baby, buy them from a well-known brand in a reputable shop. Avoid plastic shades that are sold on the roadside or at toy shops. They do not offer proper UV protection and can harm your baby’s eyes.
Reviewed by Dr Saroja Balan, BabyCenter India’s expert paediatrician.