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A pediatrician's 3 tips for keeping kids cool in the extreme heat

Most heat illness is attributable to humidity. Here's how to beat it.

A pediatrician's 3 tips for keeping kids cool in the extreme heat

I walked outside this morning to bring my two boys to camp, and when I stepped outside couldn’t tell if I was outdoors, or still in my bathroom with the shower on hot and the door closed! I was sweating within seconds of stepping outside. It was a scorcher—with temps reaching nearly 100F and humidity of 60% here in NYC.


When the temps are this hot, especially with such high humidity, it's important to know what we do to prevent heat-related illness for ourselves and for our children.

Kids' body surface area make up a greater proportion of their overall weight (compared to an adult) which makes them sweat more (proportionally) so they lose more electrolytes and become more at risk for dehydration. They are also less likely to recognize the early signs of heat effects on their bodies or, even if they do, they are less likely to act appropriately. These factor put them at high risk to suffer from heat-related illness.

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Most heat illness is attributable to humidity. When humidity is high, our sweat can’t evaporate and cool us as quickly as it normally does, and this can lead to an increased body temperature and the need for more fluids. The heat index, takes into account humidity and temperature and is easily obtainable at NOAA.

As with many things in pediatric healthcare, the best “cure” is prevention. I'm sharing three essential tips to keep your child cool and comfortable—and avoid heat-related illness—during times of extreme heat:

1) Keep kids hydrated. If you wait until your child is thirsty it is too late, he is already dehydrated! Get your kids drinking before thirst develops and consume additional fluids even after thirst is quenched.

Babies under the age of 6 months should not get pure water—however, they may need to nurse (or have bottles) more frequently in order to stay hydrated. Babies over 6 months can be offered a few ounces of water throughout the day. Offer water in a sippy cup or a few extra ounces of breastmilk/bottle every 20mins that you are outside in the heat. For older kids that are in camp or participating in other outdoor activities—scheduled hydration breaks with strong encouragement for drinking is very important! For kids exercising more than 45 minutes, fluids with electrolytes should be provided (eg: Gatorade or other sports drinks; coconut water is also a great natural source of most needed electrolytes.)

Keep track of how many trips to the bathroom you make with your child—babies and children should be urinating at least every 6-8 hours—and their urine should be a pale yellow color.

Some fun ways to get fluids in your child—ice pops (make your own!); watermelon and flavored waters.

2) Restrict outdoor activities. When possible, plan for vigorous exercise to occur early or late in the day, and limit your little one's outdoor exercise during the peak sun hours of 11am-3pm.

Talk to your child’s camp counselors or coaches, and ask them what their plan is for the hot days: Are there extra water breaks? Will they encourage drinking during those breaks? Will they allow children to rest if they look fatigued?

Older children who are athletes often face pressure to continue to participate, so educate your child to listen to his/her body and to take breaks when needed. (It is much “cooler” to make it through the day at sports camp then it is to get carted off to the Emergency Room for intravenous fluids!)

Choose outdoor activities that are in the shade and/or in cool water—pools and water sprinklers are great ways to stay cool.

And remember, if your child has recently had a gastrointestinal (GI) illness or fever, they are more likely to be susceptible to the effects of heat and will dehydrate more quickly. Limit their activity during the hot days.

3) Dress appropriately! Dress your child in a single layer of light-colored, loose-fitted breathable clothing (less sun absorption from the bright colors and the loose fit enables your child to sweat (it's the body’s natural way to let off extra heat). And please do not forget to protect your and your children's skin: ALWAYSUSE SUNSCREEN!

If despite your best efforts, the summer heat still gets the best of your children, it's important to recognize signs of heat exhaustion:

  • Tachycardia (fast heart rate)
  • Sweating
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Thirst
  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Irritability
  • Cool-clammy skin

If your child is exhibiting any of these signs of heat-illness, cool them off as quickly as possible… remove them from their activity, bring them into the shade or indoor air conditioning; remove layers of clothes; let them sit/play in a kiddy pool filled with cool water/ice; apply cold/ice towels to the neck, armpits and groin—these areas have large blood vessels and can help cool the body off more quickly.

'Here comes the sun. Here comes the sun, and I say It's all right.' – The Beatles

Tiffany Otto Knipe, MD, is a pediatrician, a mother and the founder of Washington Market Pediatrics in Manhattan.

*All content in this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Neither this article nor your transmission to the author of any personal medical information creates a physician/patient relationship. You should always seek the advice of your own physician regarding any medical condition you may have. More information.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.



Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

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Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

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