Charlie O'Brien blog: How to keep babies and small children cool in a heatwave

by Charlie O'Brien

Spring has sprung! Finally! And not only that – we’re in the midst of a mini heatwave. Hurrah.

Whether it lasts or not is another question, this is the UK after all. But I’m going to enjoy the weather here in Kent while it lasts and just hope that my packing of jumpers away in the loft wasn’t a premature move. Hot weather though can be tricky for babies and small children.

So here are some tips for keeping them cool – both from my experience and the NHS...

Keeping cool with my daughter Luna earlier this week
Keeping cool with my daughter Luna earlier this week

Avoiding dehydration: If you’re breastfeeding you don’t need to give water as well as breastmilk. (Unless of course they’re older and already having water with meals.) But you may want to feed them more than usual. And remember to keep yourself well hydrated. If you’re bottle feeding you can give some cool boiled water as well as milk feeds throughout the day.

Getting creative: Fun ways to keep babies and small children cool are homemade fruit ice cubes / lollies (if they’re over 6 months.) My baby also loves sticks of cucumber straight from the fridge or even the freezer. If you’re breastfeeding you can also make breastmilk popsicles!

Times to avoid the sun: Babies and small children should be kept out of the sun as much as possible particularly between 11am and 3pm when the sun is at its strongest. You should also apply a suncream with a high SPF factor to their skin regularly and after swimming. Make sure it protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

Cheers: With my £3 paddling pool last summer while pregnant
Cheers: With my £3 paddling pool last summer while pregnant

Use parasols NOT muslins or blankets: A common mistake is to drape a muslin cloth or blanket over your baby’s pram to keep them in the shade but this can actually make temperatures in their pram soar to a lethal 34 degrees. Choose a parasol that attaches to your pushchair instead. If you've any doubts - read this.

Night time: Keep clothing and bedding to a minimum. I find that choosing light pyjamas without feet helps keep baby cool. We also keep a blackout blind up in the room all day to keep hot sunlight out and have a fan going at night. Babies sleep most comfortably between 16C and 20C degrees. I like to use a Gro Egg which shows me if the room is too hot or cold.

Paddling pools or water play: Paddling pools are great in hot weather and you don’t need to spend a fortune. We have one that I picked up for £3! If you don’t have room for a paddling pool – water play in buckets / bowls / pots and pans works just as well. It keeps small children cool and entertained for hours! (Under supervision, obviously.)

Wine, chilled: And if all the above fails and you’ve had enough of trying to keep everyone cool – I find a nice chilled sauvignon blanc at the end of the day very effective!

Enjoy the sunshine!

Charlie X

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