Summer is here and if you are in need of some easy ways to help keep your kids stay cool while it is hot, hot, hot, read on for my handy tips.
Keep your child hydrated
Exclusively breastfed babies between 0-6 months do not need any water until they begin weaning, however, you may find that they want to feed more than usual. For bottle fed
babies, you can offer cooled boiled water as well as their usual feeds.
From weaning stage onwards (around 6 months) all babies should be offered water at meal times, but do keep offering water throughout the day too, particularly during hot weather.
If your little one isn't great at drinking water you can offer them plenty of foods with a high water content like watermelon, cucumber and tomatoes. Ice lollies are also a great way of getting fluids into them. I would recommend making your own using very diluted fruit juice or squash and water but if you can't, find lollies that have the least amount of sugar in them to avoid teeth decay.
Avoid certain foods
Did you know that certain foods can raise your body's temperature? I'm not just talking about soup, there are other foods that will naturally increase the body's heat as well. Ginger, coconut oil, brown rice, garlic and cayenne pepper all contain properties that bring the body's temp up, so try saving them for a cooler day.
Stay out of the sun
This might mean simply spending more time at home, or heading to indoor venues which have air-con (soft play), but keeping babies and toddlers out of the sun between 11am and 3pm when the sun is at it's hottest, is important. Getting out first thing or later in the afternoon/evening is best, so adjust your daily schedule to suit. A picnic breakfast or tea at the park or beach will always go down well with the kids and will ensure that they have had a
chance to burn some energy, without getting overheated.
Cool rooms before they sleep
Closing windows and keeping blackout blinds and curtains shut, can help keep the heat out of a room during the day, and then opening them up again once the sun has moved off the windows. If you are opening windows, you must be sure that your child is unable to climb out of them, using window catches where possible.
Use a fan
Great for use when it is under 35C, but never aim a fan directly at your child's body. You can easily find handy portable fans which can be helpful when out and about and if you are bothered about the noise from a fan keeping your little one awake, look for ones that are quiet - they do exist!
Be careful in the car
NEVER leave your baby or toddler strapped in a hot car, even for just a minute or two. Cars are heat traps and unless you have proper air-con, it can be hard to stay cool in the car. Be mindful that the buckles on the car seat straps can become burning hot too. Use a window shade to keep the sun off your child and NEVER cover your baby's seat with a blanket or muslin cloth.
If you have to make a long trip, make sure that you take regular breaks and get your children out the car.
Encourage them to wear a hat
A hat not only keeps the sun off your child's head, but it helps to keep their face covered too. Not always easy to get a smaller child to keep a hat on, I know, but perseverance is key. Some tips that can help:
Choose the right style - For younger babies, a Legionnaire style is perfect, the flap lies flat as the baby does, so great for out and about in the pram. Great for toddlers and older children, the broad brim on a bucket hat are great for offering protection all around a child's head, neck and face.
Start them early, whatever the season - Get your baby used to having a hat on their head, they will be more inclined to wear one as they grow.
Don't take no for an answer - It's important that they wear one whenever they are outdoors. so no hat, no going out. They will eventually learn to live with it and stop protesting.
Be a good role model - Kids are always watching their parents, so follow your own advice and wear a hat too!
Include them in choosing their hat - As well as the initial purchase, give them a choice of which hat to wear each day - a choice of two is fine, and they often come in packs in of two.
Use a cool cloth to cool them
Dampen a cloth or muslin and put it on your child's wrists or the back of the neck. These are pulse points where the blood vessels closest to the surface of the skin. Cooling the body at these points, recirculates the blood into the central part of the body and cools it down.
Dress them correctly
Inside, a general rule of thumb would be to look at what you are wearing and dress your baby the same. A short romper suit or just a vest is usually fine or, on a very hot day just a nappy. For older babies and children shorts and t-shirt or cotton rich dresses are ideal.
Outside, all babies and children benefit from light coloured, cotton rich clothing which gives good coverage for keeping cool, so bare this in mind when purchasing their summer wardrobe. It is important though, not to over dress them and to make sure that they wear a hat.
At night time, again it is important not to over dress. Try and keep the room as cool as possible, ideally between 16C and 20C and use the following as a guide:
27+ degrees: A short sleeve vest or just a nappy
24-27 degrees: A short sleeve vest and a 0.5 tog sleeping bag
21-23 degrees: A short or long sleeve vest and a 1 tog sleeping bag
17-20 degrees: A sleep suit and 2.5 tog sleeping bag
Below 16 degrees: A long sleeve vest, sleep suit and a 2.5 tog sleeping bag
Have cooling play activities
Pick a shady spot in the garden and set up activities like water or ice cube play, water beads, dried pulses or painting, which won't get your child all hot and bothered. Place the paddling
pool in the shade or use it later in the day.