Babies can get stressed by the heat and they need extra care in very hot weather. If you feel uncomfortably hot, your baby will need special care too. It is important to keep them from getting overheated.
Babies should be kept in a cool, shady place. If they need to be outside on a very hot day, cover their pram or pushchair with a damp towel or an Outlook shade. Use only one fully breathable layer over the baby, to ensure maximum airflow. Try to point the buggy away from the sun when you are on the move, and make sure the buggy is in deep shade when stationary.
Dress babies lightly, but cover their arms and legs if they are outside.
Avoid travelling in the car in hot weather if possible, or do it early in the day. Babies can overheat very quickly in cars. Never leave a baby alone in a car, even if it is in the shade. Make sure your baby shaded when you are travelling, as a baby’s skin can burn in sunlight which has passed through car windows.
The Outlook auto-shade covers the whole window to provide effective shade for the rear of your car, cutting out 90% of UV & glare. We do not recommend the use of a closed cover over the car seat when inside the car.
Babies are not able to tell you that they are thirsty, so plan to give them extra drinks.
If your baby starts to be floppy or more irritable, this could be a sign of heat stress and you need to give more drinks and take your baby to be checked by a doctor.
Prickly heat is a rash of tiny little red pin-head spots, with tiny blisters.
It is common in hot weather on parts of the skin that stay moist, such as in the nappy area or under the chin.
Creams such as zinc and cod-liver oil creams, or zinc and castor oil creams will protect the skin. The same creams that are used for protecting the nappy area can be used under the chin and on other areas that are prone to prickly heat.
Changing the baby’s clothes more often, and giving tepid baths can also help.
If babies do not get enough to drink, or if they lose a lot of fluid through sweating, diarrhoea or vomiting, they become dehydrated, which means that the body has lost too much fluid from body cells and blood.
Babies show that they are dehydrated by looking unwell, being more floppy or irritable that usual, losing weight, having dry skin and a sunken fontanelle (the soft spot on top of their head is lower than usual) and by having a lot fewer wet nappies than usual.
Babies who are dehydrated need lots of extra drinks. If they will not drink they may need hospital treatment. If you think your baby may be dehydrated, it is important to have the baby checked by a doctor or health worker.
Heat stroke occurs when too much body water is lost and a baby’s or child’s temperature starts to rise. It can, if severe, cause damage to the body organs and it can be fatal.
Signs of heat stroke in babies, children and adults, include:
- Rising body temperature
- Smaller amounts of urine passed than usual, and dark coloured urine
- Increased thirst (but later, as the baby gets weaker, he or she may drink less)
- Dry mouth and eyes
- Headache, muscle cramps
- Being sleepy or ‘floppy’
- Confusion, shortness of breath and vomiting
- Coma (not rousing when touched or called)
What to do
If your child has any of these signs, he or she needs urgent treatment. While babies and children who are a little dehydrated may be able to recover with extra drinks, by the time a child has signs of heat stroke, he will need treatment in a hospital or other health centre.
What to do while you are getting help for your baby:
- Call for urgent help, such as calling for an ambulance (dial 999), or take your baby to a hospital or health centre. The staff of an ambulance service will be able to start the treatment that is needed.
- Cover your baby with cool damp cloths.
- Keep trying to give your baby drinks unless your baby is unconscious and not able to swallow safely.