Saturday, May 28, 2011
With summer coming upon us quickly, now is the time to start planning ahead for keeping our babies safe and happy during these hot months. Because babies’ temperature regulation systems are not fully developed, they are at much greater risk for over-heating than we are as adults. And, to make things even more dangerous, they also have fewer sweat glands, making them much less efficient at staying cool. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), babies and toddlers up to four years old are at the greatest peril of heat-related sickness.
When babies do not cool off, they can suffer from heat exhaustion, in which their temperature can skyrocket as high as 103 degrees and require instant medical attention. If still not treated properly and temperature rises over 103 degrees, babies can actually suffer heat stroke, which can have extremely serious consequences.
All this is not meant to frighten or scare you, because the good news is that your baby potentially over-heating is entirely preventable! Follow these simple guidelines to ensure that your baby stays happy, healthy and safe, all year long.
Keep Baby Hydrated
Since baby obviously can’t tell you when he is hungry, it’s up to you to ensure that he stays well hydrated. Even if you don’t notice drops of sweat, your baby can still be losing fluids in hot summer temps. If you see rapid breathing, restlessness, even skin that’s flushed or warm to your touch, your baby may be dehydrated. To be safe: plan on your baby taking in 50% more fluid during summer months than normal.
Avoid Hot Rooms and Cars
Even a few minutes stuck in an excessively hot car or room can cause baby’s temperature to rise dramatically and be life-threatening. Always cool down the car or bedroom with some type of cooling system before bringing baby in. If you live in particularly hot areas or are planning an extended road trip, you may want to look into a car-seat cooler. It not only provides 10 hours of cooling from the inner frozen rings, it also covers all dangerous metal clasps that could potentially burn baby’s sensitive skin.
Dress Baby Appropriately
Keep clothes loose and lightweight in the heat of summer, and opt for cottons over synthetics. They’ll absorb and wick away moisture better, leaving baby cooler and drier.
Avoid the Peak Times of Sun
The sun is most dangerous between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM. Avoid unnecessary damage to baby’s skin by staying indoors during the worst hours.
Know the signs of heat stroke:
• Hot, red, dry skin
• Rapid or shallow breath
• Tired, lethargic
• A temperature of over 103 degrees, but no sweating
As well as the signs of dehydration:
• Sunken eyes
• No tears when crying
• Dark or strong smelling urine
• Over six hours without urinating
• Excessive sleepiness or crying
By being aware and taking all the preventative measures, you can ensure that your baby stays properly cooled during the hottest of the summer months. But don’t forget to have fun, too! Summer offers freedom to take your baby to the park and to the pool and to get outside and escape the confines of the home.
Freelance writer Jocelyn Anne is currently working alongside Air & Water, researching portable air conditioners and their potential to protect infants from overheating.