Staying cool and hydrated can be a challenge for anyone when the temperature is dangerously high. Extreme heat and humidity is not only uncomfortable, it can lead to serious health problems in vulnerable infants and young children. Here are some tips to help you and your breastfed baby stay safe and comfortable during the hot summer months.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink! Keep plenty of water close by for frequent sipping. A thermal cup or carafe helps keep water cool.
- You will know you’re drinking enough if your urine is pale. Dark yellow urine can be a sign that you need more fluids.
- Be aware that baby may prefer to nurse more frequently and for shorter periods of time than normal in order to quench thirst.
- Toddlers may request to nurse more frequently, too. Offering more water at meals and between nursing will help meet his need for additional fluids, and possibly reduce increased requests to nurse due to thirst.
- Healthy, exclusively breastfed babies do not need extra water even in very hot weather. Your milk has the perfect balance of water and nutrition.
- If your baby is less willing to breastfeed, it may be because he feels hot and uncomfortable. The sweaty, sticky feeling from body contact can add to the discomfort. Try dressing baby in light a cotton shirt, or keeping a muslin or thin cotton receiving blanket between the two of you to create a barrier against sweat. Consider taking a break from the heat and nursing while lying down in a cool room or in a tub of slightly warm water. Sponging baby off with a slightly warm damp washcloth may help, too.
- Babies who are old enough to feed themselves might enjoy a refreshing “momsicle” (frozen breastmilk popsicle) as a treat.
- To help keep toddlers hydrated, consider offering small, frequent snacks that include food with high water content such as watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber, tomato, sorbet, fruit smoothies, and fruit juice popsicles.
- If you’ll be wearing your baby, dress both of you lightly and adjust your carry to allow better air circulation.
A gentle reminder: Never leave your baby alone in a car even for only for “just a few minutes.” The temperature inside a vehicle rises quickly, even on a slightly warm day. When the temperature is very high, the danger is exponentially increased. “In hot weather in an open parking lot, the inside temperature of a car can rise by 7 degrees Fahrenheit in five minutes, 13 degrees in 10 minutes, 29 degrees in 30 minutes and 47 degrees in an hour.” Always take your baby in with you and check your car before you get out (many tragedies are caused when a baby is forgotten in the car). Assure anyone who is transporting your baby does the same. For more information, please see: Never leave your child alone in the car and Where’s Baby? Look before you lock.
Please see these resources for more information about keeping your entire family safe and comfortable in extreme heat conditions:
Last updated 6/30/14