Keep Baby Safe and Cool on Hot Summer Days
When it comes to keeping baby cool during the heat of the summer, it's all up to the grownups. "Unlike adults, babies cannot tell us they are thirsty, to take off their clothing if they are hot, turn on a fan, open a window or move to a cooler spot," said Ann Keppler, a Seattle registered nurse, parent educator and co-author of The Simple Guide to Having a Baby.
"They aren't able So as the mercury rises, moms and other caretakers need to be on high alert for situations that can cause infants to overheat—especially because experts believe that there is a connection between overheated babies and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). In a study presented last year by scientists at Dartmouth Medical School, researchers working with baby pigs found that increasing their body temperature by just four or five degrees resulted in breathing problems.
Other researchers believe that overheated infants suffering "thermal stress" has been a long-ignored problem in the United States. In a 2003 survey commissioned by the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths, researchers discovered that "56 percent of the parents didn't know the correct temperature at which to keep the room where their baby sleeps."
Children are especially susceptible to heat stroke, say experts, because their core body temperature rises three to five times faster than that of adults. The SIDS Alliance advises parents and caregivers to be alert for these signs of overheating: sweating, damp hair, heat rash, rapid breathing and restlessness.
Author Keppler offers these tips for keeping your baby safe and cool during the summer:
- Dress your infant in light-colored, loose-fitting, lightweight cotton clothing.
- If your baby shows signs of overheating, remove all clothing except the diaper and gently wipe his/her body with a cool, damp washcloth. Then move your baby to the coolest setting possible—a room with air conditioning or a fan.
- Make sure your baby is getting enough to drink. If your baby is breastfed or formula fed, feed him/her often and check for lots of wet diapers. If your baby is old enough to eat table foods, offer cool water in a sippy cup or bottle.
- When you are outside, keep your baby in the shade as much as possible. Use strollers with a cover.
- If your baby is in the sun, cover the head with a wide-brimmed hat that protects baby's face and the back of the neck.
- There are sunglasses available for infants. Buy the type that provide 99 percent to 100 percent UVA and UVB protection.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend the use of sunscreens before 6 months of age. However, it states that "parents can apply a minimal amount of sunscreen to small areas, such as the infant's face and the back of the hands."
- Never leave an infant or child alone in a hot car. Every year, infants and children die needlessly from deadly overheating.
- If your baby develops signs of heatstroke (rapid rise of body temperature over 100 degrees; hot, dry, flushed skin; rapid or difficult breathing; and no response to stimulus), seek immediate medical attention. Take your infant to the coolest setting you can find, remove clothing, breastfeed or offer water, and call 911.
Parents and caretakers must also be vigilant during the winter months, say experts. This is because caretakers tend to over-bundle babies in warm blankets, which causes body temperature to rise.
The Simple Guide to Having a Baby: What You Need to Know, contains many other helpful ideas for caring for yourself and your newborn.
Cool Down the Kids with Great Summer Drinks
Drinks disappear from the fridge quickly in the summer, as active kids raid your kitchen looking to quench their thirst. Here are a few nutritious and cost-effective ideas for summer drinks from Vicki Lansky's book Feed Me! I'm Yours.
- Always keep ice-cold water in the refrigerator to encourage kids to choose an inexpensive, sugar-free beverage.
- Apple juice that's frozen or a shelf-stable concentrate is economical because it can always be stretched. Mix it with sparkling soda for a change of pace.
- When jam or jelly jars are almost empty, pour in cold milk, shake, and serve as a fruit-flavored drink.
- You can double any amount of bottled grape juice by adding an equal amount of water. For each two cups of water added, put in 1/2 cup of sugar and a fresh lemon.
- Add fresh fruit to lemonade or fruit drinks.
- Make ice cubes interesting by freezing fruit juice cubes to add to other juices or water. Put a raspberry, strawberry, or blueberry in each ice-cube section before freezing water or juice cubes.
- Top a drink with cool whipped cream to make it more exciting.
6/13/2006 2:21:39 PM