Keeping baby cool in hot weather
May 6, 2010 (WPVI) -- With the hot weather lingering and more to come as the summer months approach, it's really important to be conscious of keeping your baby cool.
There is so much concentration on protecting babies from the sun but sun block and even shade is not enough to keep your baby cool during extreme heat, and infants are very sensitive to the heat. After all, their tiny systems haven't learned to regulate their body temperatures. Dr. Charles Shubin, medical director of the Mercy Family Care Children's Health Center in Baltimore, Md., believes babies and very young children can be more sensitive to heat than adults. In a recent medical article he was quoted as saying "Heat is lost (or gained) mostly through the skin in humans, so the more skin for your weight you have, the more sensitive to temperature changes your are."
But Dr. Andrea McCoy, associate professor of pediatrics at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, believes the problem isn't that babies are necessarily more sensitive to heat but that they are unable to cool themselves as easily as adults.
"They cannot move themselves to get out of the heat, take off extra clothes, replenish fluids, etc.," says Dr. McCoy. "They are able to sweat and have a large body surface area through which they lose heat, which is a good thing! However, if a baby sweats and the clothing becomes wet, they have even less ability to evaporate off the heat, especially in a closed environment like a car."
Theories aside, doctors recommend that you dress your baby in very light clothing when the temperatures start to rise. Although it might cut into the middle of your day, it is best to stay inside during the hottest time of the day, which is generally noon to 3:00. Now for infants like Sienna, that time is actually convenient since it coincides with her naptime. I think a lot of new parents getting geared up for summer may have envisioned bringing a pack and play out on the beach or by the pool while their little one naps. But unless the temperatures stay fairly mild, it's probably better to take a little siesta with your little one and give them a break from the heat while he or she sleeps.
I found some helpful tips on keeping your baby "Sun Safe".
- Provide shade either with a loose hat or umbrella.
- Don't leave a baby in a closed car even for a few minutes.
- Make sure your baby is drinking enough. If Baby is sweating significantly, offer him an infant rehydrating solution such as Pedialyte.
- Try to keep Baby in an environment that is cool or at least has good air movement.
- If the baby starts to get flushed, cool the baby in a tub or swimming pool. The water should not be ice cold, however, as that will shock the body and cause blood vessels to close down, which stops sweating.
- Ceiling fans are great in a baby's room. Floor and widow fans also are effective for cooling down the room, but be sure they cannot be reached by Baby or that the cord cannot be used to pull the fan over.
- Make sure babies continue to feed on their usual schedule in extreme heat. If they are sweating, try to avoid plain water because babies will become hyponatremic (decreased body sodium) more quickly.
- Watch diapers and make sure they are as wet as often as usual, as the body will conserve water by not making urine if dehydration is starting.
- Eyes and cheeks seem sunken, he is unusually inactive or sleepy, his mouth and tongue are very dry or Skin feels dry and wrinkled.
- If you gently pinch the skin on the back of a dehydrated child's hand, it flattens slowly when released.
You can read more on this topic by visiting http://www.babiestoday.com/articles/general-safety-issues/the-effects-of-summer-heat-on-infants-2805/
erin o'hearn parenting reports, parenting, erin o'hearn
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