Jane Dickens of Smyrna has a plan. She says she's carrying a light baby blanket everywhere she goes this summer because you never know when you'll need it.
“Sometimes it’s freezing in the grocery store aisles,” she attests, “and if I have to linger, the baby gets cold.”
That’s just one of the tips that can help you keep your baby cool and comfy in hot weather this summer.
Most importantly? Beware the sun. Sunburn can happen to a baby in less than 10 minutes, and a child’s sun exposure directly relates to skin cancer risk as an adult. Babies under 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight when possible, particularly between the hours of 10 and 2. Keep your baby in the shade or under an umbrella whenever you are outside. If you must be in the sun, use sunscreen. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends PABA and fragrance-free brands with an SPF of at least 15 applied 30 minutes before going outside.
Keep your baby hydrated, too – but keep away from extra water if Baby’s still an infant. Breastfed babies fed on demand will automatically increase their fluid intake to compensate for warm temperatures and bottle-fed babies get what they need from formula. “Breastmilk and formula are better suited to meet the infant’s needs,” says Jean Turtle, a nurse practitioner.
So your baby should be find as long as he’s feeding well. But what if he’s not for some reason like illness? Know that infants are more susceptible to dehydration than adults. Signs “include restlessness and irritability, dry mouth and tongue, fewer tears when crying, and fewer than 6 wet diapers a day,” points out Kathleen Reidy, registered dietician and director of nutritional sciences at Gerber Products.
If your baby does becomes dehydrated, get him to a shady or cool area pronto and cool him by removing excess clothing and sponging his body with lukewarm tap water. Contact your physician immediately if your child begins vomiting or develops fast, shallow breathing, says the AAP.
To judge how comfortable your baby is, “Put your hand on the back of your baby’s neck. If he’s perspiring, he’s too warm,” says Ann Douglas, author of The Mother of All Baby Books.