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Keep your baby cool in a heatwave

Here in Canada, we've already experienced higher-than-usual temperatures this summer. My 2nd grader's school was recently let out early and canceled the next day due to extreme heat - a first for us! We live just outside of Ottawa, in the Quebec countryside, and while we've never needed air conditioning in the past, it's starting to feel like it might be in our future.

When temperatures rise, my thoughts always turn to parents with newborns. The danger of extreme heat to babies, especially newborns, cannot be overstated. Overexposure to heat can lead to fussiness, heat rash, lethargy, dehydration, and even increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

If you're a parent of a newborn or young baby, you're probably wondering how to keep your little one safe and cool when the weather heats up. Keep reading for some practical and easy-to-follow tips.

A baby cools off in a kiddie float in a pool
Keep your baby cool in a heatwave

How to Keep Your Baby Cool in a Heatwave

1) Hydrate

  • Frequent feeds: Breastfed and bottle-fed babies may want to feed more often to stay hydrated. The increased fluid intake helps maintain proper hydration levels, which is essential during hot weather.

    • Under six months: Do not offer water to babies under six months of age; it is not safe, as their kidneys are not mature enough to handle water, and it can lead to water intoxication.

    • Over six months: Babies over six months can be given small amounts of water during meals or between feeds. This helps prevent dehydration without overloading their tiny bodies.

2) Dress Lightly

  • Breathable fabrics: Opt for lightweight, breathable fabrics like cotton, which allow for better air circulation and help to wick moisture away from the skin.

  • Light colors: Dress your baby in loose-fitting clothing in light colors to reflect the heat and reduce the absorption of heat from the sun.

  • Minimal clothing indoors: A simple onesie or even a diaper may be sufficient indoors.

3) Stay Indoors During Peak Heat

  • Peak hours: To minimize sun and heat exposure, avoid outdoor activities between 10 AM-4 PM, the hottest part of the day.

  • Cooler times: If you need to go out, plan for early morning or late evening when temperatures are lower, reducing the risk of heat-related issues.

4) Stay in the Shade and Ensure Ventilation

  • Shade: Keep your baby in the shade outdoors to protect them from direct sunlight and reduce the risk of heatstroke.

  • Sun Protection:

    • Under six months: Using sunscreen on babies under six months old is unsafe. Instead, dress them in long, light layers made of breathable fabric and use a wide-brimmed hat and stroller shade to shield them from direct sunlight.

    • Over six months: Use baby-safe sunscreen for babies older than 6 months to protect their skin.

  • Ventilated stroller: Use a stroller with a sunshade and good ventilation, preferably with mesh panels, to ensure air circulation and prevent overheating.

    • No blankets over car seats/strollers: Do not cover car seats or strollers with blankets as sunshades. Doing so reduces air circulation and raises the temperature dangerously. Even thin covers can lead to significant heat buildup.

  • Never leave your baby in a car: Never leave your baby alone in a car, even for a short period. Cars can heat up rapidly, posing a severe risk of heatstroke and death.

5) Keep the House Cool

  • Block sunlight: Close curtains or blinds during the hottest part of the day to block out direct sunlight and keep indoor temperatures lower.

  • Create a cross-breeze: Use fans to create a cross-breeze and keep air circulating, helping to maintain a cooler indoor environment.

  • Create a cool sleep environment: Use a fan or air conditioner to maintain a room temperature between 20-22°C (68-72°F). Pediatricians recommend this range to ensure a safe and comfortable sleeping environment for infants.

    • No air conditioning: If you don't have air conditioning, try creating a makeshift air conditioner by placing a big bowl of ice in front of a fan to help cool the air.

    • Light bedding: Use light, breathable bedding. Blankets are never safe for sleeping infants and should especially be avoided during a heatwave to prevent overheating during sleep.

6) Use Cool Baths and Cloths

  • Lukewarm baths: Gently lower your baby's body temperature with a lukewarm bath. The water should not be too cold to avoid shocking their system.

  • Gentle drying: Pat your baby dry gently and dress them in light clothing afterward to maintain a cool body temperature.

  • Damp washcloth: Wipe your baby with a cool, damp washcloth to help reduce their body temperature. Pay attention to areas where heat builds up, such as the neck, underarms, and behind the knees, for effective cooling.

7) Thoughtful Babywearing

  • Carriers and slings: Avoid using carriers and slings for extended periods during hot weather. They can trap heat against your body and your baby, increasing the risk of overheating.

  • Single-layer carries: To reduce heat buildup when babywearing, use shorter wraps designed for single-layer carries. Choose lightweight, breathable materials that allow for good air circulation.

Signs of Overheating in Babies

Look out for:

  • Baby feels hot

  • Looks flushed or red

  • Sweating or damp hair

  • Unusual fussiness

  • Elevated heart rate

  • Overly tired or lethargic

  • Vomiting

Immediate action: If you notice any of the above symptoms, immediately move your baby to a cooler environment and offer age-appropriate fluids. Seek medical advice if symptoms persist to prevent severe heat-related illnesses.

A baby keeps cool in a pool floatie
Keep your baby cool in a heatwave

A matter of safety

Keeping your baby cool during a heatwave is not just a matter of comfort; it's a matter of safety. By following these tips, you can ensure your baby remains comfortable and safe. Always be alert for signs of overheating and take steps to cool their environment.

Stay cool and enjoy your summer with your little one!



Have questions about newborn care? Need a little help? Remember, you're not alone. I love helping families with babies. Whether you're looking for breastfeeding support or postpartum doula care, I'm here for you. Book your service below or send me a message! <3

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