Essential Tips to Keep Babies Safe in Excessive Heat
Hot weather is a danger to babies because their temperature regulating systems aren’t fully developed. This means their bodies don’t have a function that keeps them cool, as adults do. Excessive heat can be life-threatening for babies. Infants and kids up to 4 years of age are among those at greatest risk for heat-related illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Health Threats in Heat
Babies have fewer sweat glands than adults. Because they sweat less, they are much more vulnerable to developing hyperthermia, which is abnormally high body temperature. Hyperthermia can be deadly.
If a baby isn’t treated for hyperthermia, it could progress to a more serious condition—heat exhaustion. A baby suffering from heat exhaustion is in immediate need of medical care.
Without treatment of heat exhaustion, an infant can have a heat stroke. Heat stroke leads to convulsions, coma, and, frequently, death. Since 1998, the number of infants and small kids in the U.S. who have died from hyperthermia is almost 500. In most cases, the deaths were completely preventable.
Warning Signs of Dehydration
An added complication with babies is that they are unable to tell their parents that they are thirsty. In hot weather, babies can quickly become dangerously dehydrated. Parents should become familiar with the warning signs of dehydration in babies, which are:
- Few tears when crying
- High fever
- Listless behavior
- Less than six wet diapers per day
- Grayish, blotchy skin that feels cool
- Parched tongue or mouth
- Smelly or dark yellow urine
If you believe your baby may be dehydrated, try to get him or her to drink something for electrolyte replacement.
Essential Tips to Keep Babies Safe in Summer Heat
1- Avoid Dehydration
In hot weather, babies need to drink extra fluids, and water is best. Breastfed babies need additional fluids, too, whether from a bottle or the breast. Nursing moms should increase fluid intake to avoid dehydration.
2-Prepared to Be Outdoors
Babies are highly susceptible to sunburn. When going outdoors, think “light” when you dress your baby—both the color and weight of the clothes. A light-colored baby onesie is always a good choice of baby garment. It is essential to dress babies in sunglasses and a hat. Babies 6 months and older should wear sunscreen. For babies younger than six months, sunscreen is considered unsafe.
3-Never Leave a Baby in a Hot Car
The temperature in a hot car quickly accelerates. Within 10 minutes, it’s dangerous. Tragically, babies and small children left in hot cars die every year. Parents usually claim they forgot the baby was in the car. One suggestion for any parent who thinks that could happen due to a busy life or being off routine is to put one of the child’s shoes in the front seat where it is highly visible, as a reminder of the tiny passenger in the back.
4-Keep Babies in the AC during Heat Waves
Air conditioning is the number one protection against heat-related illness and death, according to the CDC. During a heat wave, if your home isn’t air-conditioned, bring your baby with you to a library, shopping mall, or heat-relief shelter. Although fans can often help, they can’t do enough when temperatures reach the 90s and higher.
It’s excellent for you, as a parent, to become familiar with the way temperatures affect your baby. You can relax and enjoy summer when you know how to provide the right protections. Have a great summer!