Looking after a summer baby

Stay cool! Dressing your baby for the heat

When it’s warm weather, babies don’t need any more clothing or bedding than you do yourself. So if it’s too hot for you to wear anything but a tee shirt and a light pair of shorts or trousers, your baby is likely to feel the same way. A light sun hat will also help her stay cool.

You may want to put your baby in a vest under her top, to prevent seams and necklines chafing against delicate skin, but there’s no need to bother in the very warmest weather. In fact, when it’s hot, your baby doesn’t need anything other than the vest itself, plus a nappy. Do dress your baby in something while she’s very young and still lying down in a pram, crib or cot, as this will keep her comfortable by absorbing sweat (babies do sweat ), preventing it from collecting in her skin folds and causing rashes or irritation.

Stick to natural fibres or mixes with natural fibres in them, as they help the body stay cool, and allow sweat to evaporate.

If it’s very warm, a light cotton sheet may be all your baby needs if she’s in her cot or pram. If the night gets colder, you can always add an extra cover, perhaps when you go to bed yourself. Be guided by your baby. Hot babies are often cross and irritable! Also, check skin folds for sweat and the beginnings of rashes. If your baby’s chest and neck feel clammy, then she’s probably too hot.

Feeding your baby

Not surprisingly, hot weather makes babies feel thirsty. If you’re breastfeeding, you may find your baby seems to need more feeds, or more time on the breast than she and you have been used to. This is fine. Don’t assume you are running out of milk, or your baby’s appetite is greater than you can supply. This is highly unlikely, anyway, as long as your baby is well-attached and well-positioned at the breast, and you are happy to let her feed when she wants. There’s no need to offer water or any other drinks to a fully-breastfed baby. In any case, giving these could interfere with the ‘supply and demand’ production of breast milk, which is made in response to your baby’s sucking. Breast milk is all your baby needs, and other fluids are best avoided, especially in the early weeks.

Older babies taking food and drink other than breast milk may need more fluids, though of course you can give breast milk if you like.

Bottle fed babies can be given water in a bottle, though don’t substitute a bottle feed with a water feed. Give it as an extra, and always boil and cool the water first.

Buzz off!

An insect net over your baby’s pram (and cot if you are somewhere with an indoor insect problem) offers good protection. If you use any insect-repellant creams or sprays, do check they are safe to use for a baby.

Out of the sun, into the shade

Babies can get very hot, and burnt, if the sun is allowed to shine directly onto their skin. Tiny babies can’t even change their position to get more comfortable, so you have to think ahead. Dark-skinned, including black and Asian babies, need protecting from direct sunlight, as well. A window shade on your car’s passenger window, to prevent the sun shining in on your baby in the safety seat, is essential when it’s hot.

You will find it useful to have a fasten-on sunshade for your pushchair or pram. Don’t use the normal pram hood as a sunshade – it can get boiling inside there! If you stop anywhere outside with your baby in her pram or pushchair, wheel her into the shade under a tree or by a wall. A sun hat with a brim or a frill will also help protect her.

Enjoying your summer baby

If you take care of your baby’s health and comfort, summer can be fun, and there’s no need to avoid summer time visits to the beach or the countryside, or holidays away from home. Do be careful of the sort of surface you place your baby on. Take a clean mat or rug with you, as a safe play area, for your baby to sit or lie on. Most outdoor surfaces present health and hygiene hazards that are best avoided. Once your baby is crawling, and moving, you need to watch her all the time, as she may put sand or soil straight into her mouth. This is an exhausting stage for you, whether you’re indoors or out!

Skin care

If there is any chance your baby will come into strong sunlight, especially away from the UK, apply a sunscreen or block at least every two hours. Choose factor 25 as a minimum protection. This year, Boots introduce a new sun block cream with a highest-ever factor of 50, especially formulated for young skin with mild ingredients to prevent irritation.

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