Keeping Baby Cool in Summer: A How To Guide For New Parents

Keep Baby Cool

Memorial Day has come and gone and it’s officially summer in the Twin Cities! Barbecues, pool parties, vacations and hot weather are upon us and it’s time to get prepared. While having a summer baby in Minnesota may be decidedly easier than the challenges of having a winter baby, there are still factors that you must consider to protect your baby from the heat. Conditions like heat stroke, sunburns and dehydration can be very serious when they happen to a new baby. Here are 10 ways to ensure that your precious babe stays cool in the summer heat.

  1. Keep baby hydrated: Although babies under six months should not drink water, they should be more frequently breastfed or offered a bottle when it’s hot. Babies need to drink up to 50 percent more breastmilk or formula during the warm summer months to receive sufficient hydration. Babies over six months should be offered modest amounts of water in addition to breastmilk or formula. 
  2. Don’t expose baby to direct sunlight: Your new baby lacks the ability to regulate his temperature like an adult and also is not old enough to wear sunscreen. When outdoors, your baby should be fully covered in loose fitting, lightweight clothing at all times and a broad-brimmed hat. Seek shade wherever possible and avoid outdoor activities during the sun’s most harmful hours, between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM.
  3. Use sunscreen wisely: Although sunscreen is not advisable for small babies, the American Academy of Pediatrics has changed their stance now saying that children under the age of six months can wear small amounts of sunscreen on exposed areas when necessary. Children over the age of six months should have sunscreen applied liberally and often when exposed to the sun. Be sure to wipe off sunscreen with a with a cool damp wash cloth upon returning inside to allow baby’s body temperate to regulate most efficiently. For a list of safest sunscreens for kids, click here.
  4. Choose the right clothing: While baby should be mostly covered when outside, always choose lightweight, loose-fitting clothing on hot days. Natural fibers like cotton, bamboo and linen work best in the heat to keep baby covered but cool. Remember that sunburns can happen even in the shade. Make sure your baby is fully covered or in the shade at all times if he is less than six months and avoid prolonged exposure for babies over six months. 
  5. Never EVER, EVER leave baby alone in a hot car: It does not matter if you roll down all the windows and only intend to be gone for a minute. There is never a time when this is a safe practice. On a 70 degree day, it only takes 20 minutes for the internal temperature of the car to reach over 120 degrees WITH the windows cracked. Leaving your baby in a hot car can be life threatening.
  6. Choose a summer friendly baby carrier: While baby wearing is wonderful for bonding, it can create extra heat between the two of you. To ensure that you both stay as cool as possible while baby wearing, choose a warm-weather-friendly carrier like a linen ring sling, gauze wrap or SSC with a mesh panel. They also make mesh wraps and slings that can be worn in the pool so that you and your baby can take a cool dip together. Opt for tummy-to-tummy carry positions during the summer to allow baby easy access to breastfeeding. 
  7. Keep baby’s sleep environment cool: The safest room temperature for sleep for a new baby is between 65-70 degrees. If temperatures are high and you do not have an air conditioner, consider installing a window unit or large fan or dress baby in minimal nighttime clothing. Baby should be dressed comfortably and appropriately for the nighttime temperature-not too warm but not too cold either. It’s imperative that you do not over bundle baby for sleep as overheating has been found to play a factor in some instances of SIDS. For more tips on safe sleep for infants, check out this article!
  8. Choose air-conditioned fun activities: If it’s unpleasantly hot outside and you have a new baby, you really shouldn’t be spending much time outdoors, if any. Think of places in your community where you can go to cool off and get out of the house like bookstores, the mall, the library, the aquarium, the movie theater, Target, Starbucks etc. In the case of extreme temperatures (over 100 degrees), opt for staying home instead and waiting for more comfortable weather before taking baby out. 
  9. Crank the air in the car: When possible, cool your car down first prior to buckling baby into her car seat. Because she lacks the ability to regulate her little body temperature, strapping her into her car seat in a hot car is not a good idea. Let the AC run for a few minutes to begin the process of cooling down the car. Also, if you have them, ensure that your backseat vents are open and working properly to increase airflow to baby once you do get moving. 
  10. Watch for signs of heat distress: Problems caused by hot weather can range from less serious conditions like heat rash (a red and bumpy rash in the creases and folds of the body) to much more serious complications like heatstroke and dehydration. If your baby appears flush, red-faced, restless and lethargic or is vomiting and seems to be breathing rapidly, seek medical attention immediately as he may be experiencing symptoms of heat stroke. While you wait for medical help, take baby to a cool place, strip him down to his diaper and sponge him with a cool wet cloth. Most importantly, take precautions to prevent serious conditions like heat stroke and dehydration before they happen. 

Taking the proper precautions to protect your baby from the sun and heat during the summer months is as important as protecting them from the winter chill. Remember that your little one cannot regulate his own body temperature like adults can and therefore relies on you to keep him in a comfortable setting. For questions about infant care, pregnancy, natural birth and more, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center. Happy Summer!

Babywearing Safety: 15 Tips to Wear Baby Safely

Babywearing Safety

Babywearing is the wonderful and highly convenient practice of keeping your baby close to you by wearing them in one of several different types of carriers. Although babywearing is a traditional and age-old practice in many cultures around the world, it has only recently begun to catch on in the US due to its many benefits to both mom and baby. To learn more about the great benefits of babywearing, check out Eight Reasons to Wear Your Baby. If you are planning to wear your new baby during any stage of his younger years, it is important to educate yourself on the principles of safe babywearing. Here are some tips for ensuring that your baby is secure and comfortable in the carrier.

  • Choose a carrier that is ergonomic. There are many different types of baby carriers from soft structured carriers and Asian style carriers, to woven wraps, stretchy wraps, and ring slings. 
  • Ensure that you use proper ergonomic positioning for the carrier you choose to make sure that baby is in the safest and most supportive position.
  • Although it is normal for babies to fuss the first couple times you try a new carrier, choose a time of day when baby is well rested and happy for his maiden voyage.
  • Ensure that baby’s airway is open at all times. 
    • Keep baby in an upright position, high on your body so that you can easily monitor breathing.
    • Infants should only be placed in a cradled position if necessary to nurse and should then immediately be returned to the upright position upon finishing.
  • Carefully inspect new and used carriers before use. Check for areas of worn fabric, tears, weak spots, loose stitching, broken buckles, undone hems and any other structural flaws that may make the carrier unsafe. It is also important to choose carriers from reputable manufacturers to ensure that they will be compliant with US safety standards.
  • Choose a carrier that provides ample support for your baby’s back and neck.
    • Your baby should be held with his knees higher than his bottom and with his legs in a spread squat position, with support spanning from knee to knee. Full knee to knee support becomes less possible and necessary as your baby ages and becomes a toddler.
  • Practice common sense when wearing. If you wouldn’t carry your baby in your arms while doing the activity (i.e.: riding in a car, boat, kayak, or bike) then don’t wear your baby in those scenarios.
  • Practice all carries with someone to spot you or over a bed, couch or low to the ground soft surface. Do not use carries, such as back carries, that you have not confidently mastered. Seeking out a babywearing group is a great way to educate yourself on different types of carriers and carries and to get helpful instruction from babywearing educators and other moms.  
  • Support baby’s head if you bend over while wearing him in a carrier.
  • Choose an age appropriate carrier. Stretchy wraps, for instance, are wonderful for cuddly newborn carries but do not provide adequate support for bigger babies. You should also be able to try a variety of types of baby carriers through your local babywearing group who often have lending libraries. 
  • Ensure that your carrier is snuggly fitted to you and your baby. Your baby should not be able to slump down in the carrier and you should not feel unnecessary pressure on your back.
  • Close enough to kiss: You often hear the phrase, “close enough to kiss,” in the babywearing world used as a good measure of positioning. You should be able to reach your baby’s head effortlessly to give them a kiss if they are in the proper position.
  • You should always be able to see your baby’s face. The fabric of the carrier should never be pulled over baby’s face so that you need to pull it back to see him.
  • Keep baby’s chin off his chest. This restricts airflow and can make breathing difficult for your baby. As mentioned above, baby should be carried in an upright position and there should be at least a finger width of space in between their chin and neck.

When done correctly, babywearing is an extremely safe and comfortable practice for both the caregiver and the baby. There are so many benefits to wearing your baby from bonding and breastfeeding promotion, to freeing up your hands to do things around the home all while making your baby feel safe and secure. Education on safe babywearing is essential before using a baby carrier and can be easily sought through your local babywearing group. Check out Babywearing International to learn more about your local chapter. You can also contact us at Health Foundations with any questions regarding baby care.