Summer can be so fun, but it can also be so, so hot. We mamas may be feeling the heat, but the CDC warns infants and children are more at prone to developing heat-related illness than adults are. So if we're feeling the temperature rise, we need to be aware that the risks to our babies are rising, too.
A heat wave doesn't have to mean an end to all summer family fun, but there are a few important steps parents should take to prevent heat-related illness and injury in little ones.
1. Schedule around the sun
If you've got little kids who have to get outdoors, or you just like to take your baby for a walk in the stroller, you still can if you pick the right time of day. The CDC recommends limiting outdoor activity to when it's coolest, like morning and evening hours. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) takes it a bit further and cautions against outdoor activities between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.. Basically, midday is a great time to head inside for lunch and a nap.
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2. Sunscreen for the whole family
When you do go outside, make sure to slather on the sunscreen first. The CDC recommends an SPF of 15 or more (along with a hat and sunglasses) 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposures. The AAP recommends shade and adequate clothing as the first line of sun defense for babies under 6 months old, but even those little ones should get a small amount of sunscreen on areas like the face and the back of their hands.
3. Don't use blankets as sun blockers
When the sun's rays are intense parents naturally look for ways to keep the sun off a baby's delicate skin, but experts warn the common practice of draping a blanket (even a very thin muslin one) over a stroller or car seat can increase a baby's temperature drastically.
An experiment conducted by a Swedish newspaper found that if it's 71F (22C) outside when a stroller is covered with a blanket, the inside of the stroller can reach a scorching 94F (34C) within about half an hour.
So instead of draping a blanket over the stroller parents can make use of canopies that attach to the stroller but don't trap the heat, and should seek shade for the baby as much as possible.
4. Keep everyone hydrated
According to the World Health Organization, babies under 6 months old do not need water, but older children should be offered plenty on hot days, says the CDC. Bottle fed babies may require more frequent formula feeds in order to stay hydrated in the heat, and breastfeeding babies may want to nurse more than usual during hot weather. That means mama will need to make sure she's well hydrated, too.
5. Make use of air conditioning
The CDC recommends people make use of air-conditioned spaces as much as possible during heat waves. For those who don't have AC at home, a trip to the mall or a public library (especially during those really hot mid-day hours) can provide some relief and help your family keep cool even when you venture back out into the heat.
With lots of water and indoor activities, we can make it through the heat wave and plan for some more fun in the sun when the temperatures are a little less intense.
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