How to Keep Your Newborn Safe During the Summer

Hot and humid days can be dangerous for newborn babies. They are not able to regulate their body temperature yet. Here are some ways to keep your baby safe.

How to keep your newborn safe during summer weather.

Heat Does Effect Your Baby

Once the temperature is over 80 degrees, it is harder for our bodies to cool down-especially for babies. Dr. Jan Montague, the director of pediatrics at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, NY, says to avoid the heat as much as possible. "It is not OK to take a newborn or any infant outside when it's very hot – over 80 degrees or so," she says. "Babies cannot sweat, which is your body's way of cooling itself off, so they can often suffer heat stroke much quicker than an older child or adult." 

Here are some tips on keeping you baby safe:

  • When the temperature is over 75 degrees F, a single layer of clothing is plenty. Dress your infant in loose-fitted, light weight clothing, preferably made from natural fiber like cotton, which absorbs perspiration better than synthetic fabric.

  • Cover you baby’s head with a lightweight hat to protect them from getting too much sunlight.

  • When it is hot outside , think thinner clothing. Use lighter fabrics. Your baby may require another layer of clothing at night like a light sleeper.

  • Be sure to if you are using a carrier that it is breathable material. Choose a carrier made from lightweight nylon rather than a heavy fabric like denim. If a child's face starts to look flushed, remove him/her from the carrier immediately.

  • Use sunscreen. Most pediatricians will support using sunscreen on babies, however the FDA doesn’t endorse the use of sunscreen on babies under the age of 6 months. For newborn babies it is best to just avoid the sun.

  • Make sure you protect your babies eyes by getting them UV protection sunglasses.

  • Make sure your baby gets extra fluids. A flushed face, skin that's warm to the touch, rapid breathing, and restlessness may be warning signs of dehydration. Since infants under 6 months shouldn't drink water (babies over 6 months can take in modest amounts), replace the lost liquids by giving him extra formula or by nursing more frequently. Babies should drink at least 50 percent more than usual in the summer.

  • Provide good ventilation for your baby. Since your baby doesn’t perspire effectively, he/she can become overheated quicker than an adult. Your should never leave your baby in a hot room or parked car, even for a few minutes. This could cause his/her temperature to spike and in extreme cases may prove life-threatening.

  • Babies can get very hot sitting in their rear facing car seats, so make sure they are dressed in one layer of clothing only, no hats or feet covers (socks or shoes). Babies release their heat from their head and feet. Also make sure the sun isn’t beating down on them while you are driving, you can use a window shade to avoid too much sun coming in your car.

  • Time your outdoor activities. The worst time for your baby (and you, for that matter) to be outdoors is between 10am and 2pm. This is when the sun does the most harm to skin.

  • Watch for heat exhaustion. When outside with your little one, monitor him/her closely for signs of heat exhaustion. If your baby is overheated, he/she may get very cranky or irritable, or he may get very lethargic and not wake to eat or drink.

  • Find the shade! When you go to a park or to the beach look for a shaded area. This can be under a tree or you can use an umbrella, tent, or canopy.

What’s the Right Temperature for Your Baby

Your baby’s body temperature should always be between 98 and 100 degrees F. If you are concerned about your baby’s temperature the most accurate way to check is with a rectal reader.

Baby’s nursery should be between 68 and 72 degrees F. If your baby is preterm, keep thermostat a bit higher at 72 degrees F. If your baby’s room is too hot it can increase your baby’s risk of SIDS.

How to Know When Your Baby is Too Hot

When your baby is too warm, they may look flushed (have rosier cheeks) and sweaty or they may breathe more rapidly if they are overheated. Being too warm can cause babies to be more cranky and irritable. If you notice that your baby seems like he/she is overheated start by removing layers of clothing. Find shade or go inside to cool off.

What to Watch For

If your baby starts to sweat profusely during the hot, humid weather, your baby can get tiny red bumps on their neck, in their groins, in the fold of their skin, back of their knees, and elbows. This is called heat rash. The best thing to do is to remover your baby’s clothing and and dress them in a loose cotton outfit or even let them sit in just a diaper for a while. You can apply cornstarch baby powder to at affected areas. Keep your baby cool and in a well ventilated room to help relieve symptoms.

Watch for Sunburns

A sunburn is characterized by hot, red, swollen skin that's painful to the touch, can cause a baby even greater misery. Contact your pediatrician immediately if a child under age 1 gets a sunburn. Your pediatrician will likely have you apply cool (not cold) tap water, followed by a moisturizer, to the burned area. Don't pop blisters; they protect against infection. Infants' acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be appropriate for relieving discomfort.

Kim Sabin