A guide to happy and healthy summer babies
South African summers can become quite uncomfortable for your baby with temperatures rising to above 35°C in certain areas of the country. Tennille Aron provides some useful tips to keep your baby happy and healthy during the sunny season.
The summer heat can be quite intense, especially on a newborn’s body, which is still adjusting to being outside of its mother’s womb and is not able to fully regulate the baby’s body temperature yet. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your baby is protected during summer.
Here are a few ways to keep your newborn healthy and comfortable during those hot summer months.
Be cool, baby
Avoid putting your newborn in heavy, dark and non-breathable clothing during summer. Dressing your little one in loose fitting cotton clothing is advisable on hot days, as cotton fabrics are light and breathable, so they will keep your baby cool and comfortable. Light coloured clothes also absorb less heat than darker garments and therefore, are recommended for your baby when going out in hot temperatures.
Be very careful when covering your pram with heavy materials as these can decrease the air flow to your baby in the pram and cause your little one to overheat. Use light, breathable fabrics over your pram if you need to, or better yet, rather use your pram shade as these were designed to shield your newborn from the sun’s rays in a safe manner.
Always wear sunscreen
Just as you would take special care to ensure that your newborn’s skin is moisturised during winter, summer also requires special steps to care for your baby’s skin. The Mayo Clinic recommends the use of sunscreen for infants older than six months, and there are various sunscreens available on the market for babies that can provide protection from the sun.
When choosing a sunscreen, ensure it has been formulated specifically for babies and that you choose the correct SPF for your child. As babies’ skins can be quite sensitive, a good suggestion is to test the sunscreen on a small area of your little one’s skin 48 hours before you plan to slather it on, to ensure that no skin irritation develops.
For babies six months or older, apply the sunscreen to all the areas of their body that will be exposed to the sun, including their face for maximum protection. Mayo Clinic recommends reapplying sunscreen every two hours if your baby is out in the sun, or more frequently if they are spending time in water.
If your newborn is younger than six months, they should be kept out of direct sunlight as much as possible to protect them from getting burnt by the sun’s rays. This might mean avoiding being outdoors between 10am and 2pm, when the sun is at its highest.
You can also protect your little one from the sun by putting them in protective wear such as sun-protective clothing, wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses. Just be sure to check that these items do offer UV protection.
Much like adults, infants are also at risk of becoming dehydrated in hot weather, so monitor your baby’s fluid intake. If your baby is younger than six months and is exclusively breastfeeding, then there is no need to give your little one extra water in hot weather, as they will get sufficient fluid intake from the breastmilk. You might notice that your baby’s feeds will be more frequent, so be prepared for extra feeds during the hotter months to ensure your baby remains hydrated.
If your baby is on solids, be sure to give him boiled cooled water more often during hot weather to prevent dehydration.
Summer time bugs
Mosquito bites can be particularly uncomfortable for your little one and babies are more at risk of these during the beautiful South African summers. Protecting your baby from these pesky insects is essential during the hot summer months.
There are various products on the market that can help to keep these insects away from your little one, including mosquito repellent sleeping bags, mosquito repellent sprays as well as mosquito nets. Find the solution that works best for your little one, as bites from these insects can be extremely irritating.
Don’t be rash
Skin rashes are quite common in babies during the summer months. These rashes develop because a baby’s skin is not yet able to sweat properly in the heat, which leads to fine pimples forming on their skin.
In most cases, heat rash is not painful nor itchy, but it is a sign that your baby might be too hot. If your newborn starts to develop heat rash, loosen any tight-fitting clothing and move him to a cooler spot. You can try putting a fan in your baby’s room or putting him a cooler room in the house, such as where there is air conditioning to cool down. You can also try wiping down your baby regularly, paying particular attention to wiping the neck, underarms and any other areas where the skin folds as these are the areas that are most likely to develop heat rash first.
If the heat rash doesn’t resolve, or you are worried it might be something else, seek medical advice sooner rather than later.
While there is no way to avoid the hot weather completely, you can ensure that your newborn is happy and comfortable this summer season, because a happy summer baby = a happy summer parent.