Here are some tips to help you, and your baby or toddler, stay cool when temperatures soar:
· Stay indoors at the hottest time of the day in a well-ventilated room.
· Close the blinds to prevent your home becoming a mini greenhouse.
· A fan won’t make the room cooler, but moving air over your skin can make you feel more comfortable (check it has a finger guard). Better still; put a bowl of ice in front of it.
· Place wet towels and bottles of frozen water around the room to help reduce air temperature.
· Take a cool bath or shower with your toddler (not recommended for babies) or wet your hair.
· Place a cool, damp flannel on your pulse points.
· Wrap a tea towel soaked in cold water around your feet.
· Turn on the oven and bathroom extractor fans to help remove warm or steamy air from the room.
· Avoid using the oven - it will heat up the house.
· Cool down with a cold water bottle on your tummy.
· Wear as little clothing as possible and go barefoot.
· Sit or play on the floor where the air is cooler.
· Reduce bedtime clothing and bedding to a minimum and keep the bedroom well ventilated.
· Light dust your skin with corn flour to absorb sweat and make you feel more comfortable.
· Slightly dampen your bed sheets to help you cool you down.
You and your child will sleep more comfortably when the room is between 16°C (61°F) and 18°C (65 °F).
Out and about
If you do need to venture out in hot weather, try scheduling activities earlier or later in the day when the temperature is cooler.
It also helps if you:
· Wear light-coloured, loose-fitting, breathable clothing made from natural fibres such as cotton or silk. Cover your child’s arms and legs. Avoid synthetic fibres, which increase sweating.
· Wear a wide-brimmed hat to provide shade and keep your head cool.
· Keep to shady places such as a shopping mall or library.
· Stay in the shade especially between 11 am and 3 pm, when UV radiation is at its strongest.
· A sun tent can provide shade, but make sure that it doesn’t get too hot inside.
· Mist yourself or your child with cold water or spray from a garden hose.
· Sit in a cold, shaded paddling pool or refresh your feet in a bowl of cold water. Make sure your child is closely supervised at all times.
· Attach a sunshade to the pushchair to protect your child from the sun. Check that there are no metal parts on the pushchair that can get hot and cause burns.
· A lamb’s wool fleece is an ideal way to keep your child cool in the pushchair when you’re out and about (although you may get a few strange glances). The fleece absorbs moisture and helps to disperse heat.
· When travelling, place a portable blackout blind or sunscreen in the side window to reduce temperature and glare, and to help shield your child’s skin and eyes from the sun.
· Consider travelling at night when the temperature is cooler.
· Drink more water than usual so that you never become thirsty. A glass of water every 30 minutes or so will prevent dehydration.
· Avoid salty foods, which retain water and increase blood pressure.
· Drink cool, non-alcoholic beverages (mums and dads!).
· Eat ice cubes and keep trays stocked up in the freezer.
· Avoid drinks with large amounts of caffeine such as tea, coffee, chocolate, and energy drinks.
· Keep your metabolism steady by eating small, regular meals. Large portions increase metabolism and generate more body heat.
Seek immediate medical attention if you or your child experience one or more of the following symptoms during the heatwave:
· Strong, rapid pulse.
· Extreme weakness or fatigue
· Throbbing headache.
· Muscle cramps.
· Fast and shallow breathing.
Excessive heat may cause problems if you become dehydrated. Find a cool area where you can rehydrate and rest.
By Dr Lin Day (www.babysensory.com