In most parts of the world, there are times when the weather can be really hot.
It’s important for everyone to take extra steps to stay cool and well hydrated during hot weather.
This is particularly important for babies because their bodies cannot adjust to changes in temperature as well as adults can.
Babies And Hot Weather – 6 Important Things To Know
Babies sweat less than adults older children, reducing their bodies’ ability to cool down. Hence, they’re more at risk of overheating and developing a heat-related illness.
It’s common for parents to have questions about feeding their baby in hot weather. This article provides you with 6 important things to be aware about babies during hot weather.
#1: Babies Often Need And Want To Feed More Often
During hot weather, many babies want to feed more often, just like we want to drink more often during such times.
Regardless of whether your baby is bottle-fed or breastfed, it’s a good idea to offer more feeds during hot weather too.
Feeding a breastfed baby more often means she gets more of the lower fat milk which satisfies her thirst more. You don’t need to worry about your baby wanting to breastfeed more often as your supply can adjust to her needs.
An older baby who is no longer exclusively breastfed can be encouraged to drink extra water between feeds.
#2: It’s Important To Dress Your Baby Appropriately
During hot weather, it’s important to dress your baby in light, loose clothing. It’s even better if the clothing is made of 100% cotton, which is breathable.
Some nappy-free time would be very welcome during hot weather too. This could be done, for example, on a portable change mat with a cotton towel placed over it.
#3: It’s Best To Stay Indoors
It’s best to stay inside during the heat, especially during the hottest part of the day (often between 11am-5pm in summer).
If possible, it’s best if outdoor activities can be done in the early morning and evening, when the temperature is cooler.
You can help protect your baby from the sun by keeping her in the shade as much as possible, using a hat with a broad brim, and using long sleeves and pants (made of light cotton). If sunscreen is necessary, look for a brand which uses minimal/no chemicals.
#4: Exclusively Breastfed Babies Don’t Need Extra Water
Leading health organisations such as Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council recommend exclusive breastfeeding for around the first six months and then for breastfeeding to continue alongside suitable family foods for at least one year or as long as the mother and child desire.
Exclusive breastfeeding means a baby receives only breastmilk, no other liquids or solids are given, not even water.
Breastmilk is very thirst quenching with a high percentage of water. Feeding your baby according to her individual needs helps ensure she gets all the nutrition and water she needs even during hot weather.
Giving a breastfed baby water might actually reduce how much breastmilk she drinks and hence reduce your milk supply. Also, because a young baby has immature kidneys, giving her water can put her at risk of water intoxication. Hence, it’s important to seek medical advice before giving a young baby any water.
Formula-fed babies may need extra water during hot weather – this is best guided by a doctor.
#5: Your Baby May Be Extra Fussy
When we’re feeling hot and bothered, the last thing most of us want to do is to sit close to someone else. Hence, it’s not really surprising that some babies may be reluctant to want to breastfeed during these times. If this is your baby, it can help to:
- Keep trying to follow her cues
- Place a light 100% cotton towel between you and your baby while breastfeeding to absorb any sweat and keep you both from sticking to each other
- Try breastfeeding lying down.
Some babies refuse to feed during the hottest part of the day. They cope by feeding for longer or more frequently in the cooler parts of the day such as evening, overnight and early morning.
#6: Watch Out For Signs Of Heat-Related Illness
It’s important to be aware of signs and symptoms of heat-related illness and to seek urgent medical advice if you notice any. Following are some signs and symptoms of heat-related illness in a baby:
- Looks unwell and is more irritable than usual
- Pale and clammy skin
- Sleepy and floppy
- Fewer wet nappies
- Dark-coloured urine
- Soft spot on baby’s head (fontanelle) appears sunken in.