Keeping your baby cool, happy and hydrated over the summer holiday months.
1. It can be counter-intuitive to take clothing off your baby rather than put it on, but babies are very happy in just a nappy, so leave the dress-ups for special occasions or when the weather is a little cooler.
2. Soft muslin wraps are perfect for babies to sleep in during summer. If more covering is needed, another muslin wrap can be used as a top sheet.
3. Be careful when you cover the pram, as heavy materials can reduce air circulation and overheat baby. You should be able to see the baby at all times while they’re in a pram or stroller. If the back of their head is damp, they are hot. Put a hat on your baby as soon as you can, so it doesn’t become a game to take it off and throw it out of the stroller.
4. Use a fan to circulate air around baby. They won’t get a chill or a cold from the fan or air conditioning – only a virus can cause a cold.
5. Breastfed babies need a lot of fluid. Your breastmilk adapts in volume and characteristics for the frequent feeding babies need throughout the warmer season. Babies under six months don’t need any other fluid except breastmilk. Formula-fed babies can be offered cool boiled water as well as their feeds to satisfy their thirst on hot days. Babies become very lethargic and quiet if they’re too hot or need more fluids, so you can’t depend on them to grizzle or be unsettled as a sign for you to act. Anytime you’re not sure, take off some of their clothing and give them a drink.
6. Dip your baby in and out of a tepid bath at each nappy change throughout the day. It will cool them and make them more comfortable, like a quick dip in the pool. This can work on hot, sticky nights too.
7. Keep your baby out of the sun between 10am and 2pm. A rash vest should be worn any time they are in the sun or water. Reflected sun will burn your baby even if you think they are shaded and protected. Be careful when wearing your baby in a sling or pouch. Make sure their head is covered, and feet and arms are loosely covered, so they don’t burn.
8. Look after yourself. Drink lots of fluids and eat healthy snacks, especially when you don’t feel like your usual meal. Be careful with alcoholic drinks, as they can be dehydrating, reduce your baby’s interest in feeding and put your milk supply at risk.
9. Enjoy the holiday season with your baby but don't push yourself. Catch up with friends at the shopping centre so you can stay cool and comfortable when it’s really hot outside. Take your baby to a mothers-and-babies session at the movies.
Lynne-McKensey Hall is author of the Breastfeeding & Baby Matters book series. www.betterbeginnings.com.au