As many of you know, the last week has almost been unbearably hot! I really don't like the heat, I'll take a crisp 60 degree day anytime, but living in Iowa, that happens only a few times of the year. So we must make the best of those steamy hot days. We need to be especially careful with our little ones when the temperatures start to climb. And take some precautions to avoid dehydration and heat stroke, especially for very young children. Here are some tips to go by:
1. Plenty of Fluids
Just like adults, babies lose fluid when the temperature rises. Parents Magazine says that babies should have their fluids increased by 50 percent on hot days.
2. Cover up
According to the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP), babies under 6 months should not be exposed to direct sunlight. Babies have very sensitive skin that can burn easy. Dress babies in lightweight clothing that covers most of their body. Also, use brimmed hats to shade their face from the sun.
3. Block it
For babies over 6 months, you can use a sunscreen with SPF 15. There are many brands specifically made for babies, like the one from Aveeno. Make sure to follow manufacturer's instructions and reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or sweating. It is still recommended that you shield your baby as much as possible from the sun with clothes and hats.
4. Dress like twins
Well, not really like twins. Dress your baby how you're dressed when at home. If you are walking around with shorts and a t-shirt, baby should be as well.
5. Get wet
Easy Baby Life recommends frequent baths to help cool down your baby. Just bring out the baby tub and watch your little one relax and cool down. Don't forget to splash some water your way as well!
6. Made in the shade
When out and about, try to stay in the shade as much as possible. Choose parks with lots of trees as opposed to those with lots of blacktop.
7. Time it right
If you have to venture out in the heat, try to do it early in the morning or later in the evening. According to the AAP, the hottest times of day are between 10am and 4pm.
8. Live cool
Use an air conditioner, fans or open the windows. Try to make the house or vehicle as comfortable as possible. If the house is unbearable, then check with your local government agency to see if they have any "cooling centers" available. Many cities invite those with young children and the elderly to come to well air-conditioned community centers during heat waves.
9. Think before you sit
Baby strollers and car seats can get really hot in a matter of minutes. Check the seats before putting your baby in. Especially be aware if any there are any metal parts to the seat, which can get very hot and burn your baby. Also, if they have been in a seat for a while, babies might be getting sweaty or overheated. Easy Baby Life even suggests putting a thermometer in the stroller to monitor the heat. If possible, start the vehicle for a few minutes before putting your little one in a hot car seat and allow it to cool off.
10. Know the signs
Read up on the signs for heatstroke and dehydration. Call 911 immediately of you suspect your baby is in distress.
Though summer is a wonderful time to be outdoors, remember when it gets to those extremely high temperatures to keep an eye on your little ones and don't hesitate to have them checked out if they are showing signs of over-exposure to the heat such as: red flushed skin that's clammy to the touch, extreme irritability and uncontrollable tearless crying, frequent spitting up and vomiting immediately following ingestion of baby formula or breast milk. This is typically caused by dehydration and a high temperature. In extreme cases of heat exhaustion an infant may show signs of sluggish responses or be non responsive. So by following a few tips, your little one can have a safe and fun summer!
Sue Junge is an Early Childhood Support Specialist for the Iowa River Valley Early Childhood Area and is a Thursday columnist for the Times-Republican. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don't necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. For more information, please visit www.iowarivervalleyeca.com.