Caring for Baby on a Hot Summer Day

photo credit: vinvalenti

Humans are drawn to sunlight and warmth. During long winters and chilly days we daydream about beach trips, sunbathing by the lake, and generally enjoying the summer sun. Sunlight is also beneficial to babies, but not without caution. Careless exposure to direct sunlight can damage the baby’s skin, spoil his food, cause dehydration, and bring on heat stroke. When you’re travelling outside in the summer months, keep the following tips in mind to protect your baby from the sun’s harmful effects.

Limit Exposure to the Sun

Adults can easily control their exposure to sunlight’s harmful effects. Sunscreens can be liberally applied when needed. Parasols or umbrellas provide portable shade, and adults have the ability and understanding to seek shady areas when relaxing outdoors. Babies, however, are at the mercy of their caregivers. Their skin is delicate and can’t readily handle the ravages of direct sunlight or intense heat. Babies under a year old really don’t need the small amount of sunlight exposure required by adults.

Babies should be shielded from the sun whenever possible. Little baseball caps and light clothing offers some protection. Special sunshades are available for use with strollers.

They provide UV protection for the baby, permit air circulation, and even screen out bugs and mosquitoes. Sunscreen may offer some protection at a beach, but it may contain chemicals that are harmful to the baby’s skin. It’s better to provide shade and air circulation to keep the baby safe.

Avoid Dangerous Hot Spots

We’ve all heard stories about the tragedy of babies left in hot automobiles. These, of course, are extreme situations, but many less obvious hot spots can cause great or equally tragic consequences. A good example is the heat buildup in a stroller when moving along a hot pavement. It’s a good idea to keep a thermometer in a stroller to check the ambient temperature around the baby. That’s what I always do when I take my two babies out for travelling. I always take a thermometer with us and put it in Joovy Caboose Stand on Tandem Stroller. Heat stroke is a possibility and it can be dangerous-even deadly. If your baby’s body temperature is rising, he is urinating infrequently (a sign of dehydration), has dry mouth and eyes, or begins vomiting, heat stroke could be the cause. If these symptoms are evident, cool the baby using a damp cloth, and seek immediate medical attention.

Store Food Properly

When travelling on hot days, make sure that the baby’s food is properly stored in a well insulated cooler. Food spoils quickly in the heat. Discard any perishable food that has been exposed to the heat for more than an hour. Obviously, foods like crackers and cookies will not spoil, but opened jars of baby food will support bacteria growth very quickly. Even if the food jars haven’t been opened, the overheated baby foods may be as unpalatable for the baby as they would be for you. Keep these foods cool for both quality and safety. Food poisoning is bad for adults and worse for babies.

Keep the Baby Well Hydrated

If you’re thirsty, you’ll find a water cooler or purchase a bottle of water. Whenever you’re thirsty, the baby may be as well. Don’t follow a schedule as you would at home. Keep water available for the baby and offer it often. If he doesn’t need it, he won’t take it. The symptoms of dehydration are very similar to those of heat stroke. If the baby exhibits these symptoms, try giving him water and seek medical attention.

Give the Baby Cooling Baths

Babies love to splash in the water. A cooling dip in a pond or a bath tub works equally well. Don’t make the mistake, however, of bathing the baby in direct sunlight for too long. The damaging effects of the sun are of more concern that the cooling off from bathing. Holding an umbrella over the baby while he is bathing outdoors is an excellent idea. If you’re using a small portable plastic baby pool, move it under a shade tree. Be careful about any cooling dip in ocean water. It may be too cold and the salt water may remove natural protective oils from the baby’s skin. Gently splash the baby with water instead.

Remove Diapers Where Possible

Even though you’re an adult, think about how you’d feel on a hot day to be lying down in a soggy wet diaper. It’s not a pretty thought, and the baby will be no happier about it than you would be. If you are in a shaded area, don’t just change the wet diaper, remove it. Let the baby enjoy the cooling effect of nakedness. Lay him down on a blanket in the shade. There’s little chance he’ll be arrested.

A stay-at-home mom, Amy Brown gave up her career to move with her husband and their two children. Amy is now an editor of Livesnet, a site offering baby gear reviews and tips on problems parents encounter in daily life. She’s surely willing to share her own experience and tips. Please visit Livesnet and read her recent review on Britax Roundabout Convertible Car Seat.

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  1. Hello! This is a great tips! Moms should really be more cautious about bringing their babies out. Babies have very sensitive skin and should not be over exposed to the sun.